Procedure for Reporting a Sexual Misconduct/Title IX/Sexual Harassment Complaint for Students and Employees

THE PROCESS: INITIAL STEPS

  1. Please contact the Title IX Coordinator for Students or Employees. They may be contacted by:

For complaints against a student, contact the Student Title IX Coordinator:
Aura Cazares, Student Conduct & Compliance Manager/Title IX Coordinator
Counseling Office, L117
Phone: 313-845-6315
Email: ajcazares@hfcc.edu

For Complaints against an employee, contact the Employee Title IX Coordinator:
Lynn Borczon, Assistant Director of Human Resources
Welcome Center, 3rd Floor
Phone: 313-845-9664
Email: lynn@hfcc.edu

Please note, an employee complaint will be conducted either in accordance with this procedure or applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement.

A. Intake Meeting with Complainant.

Upon receipt of notice of any allegation of sexual misconduct, the Student Title IX Coordinator will first schedule an individual intake meeting with the complainant in order to provide to the complainant a general understanding of this process and to identify forms of support or immediate interventions available to the complainant. The intake meeting may also involve a discussion of any interim measures (in accordance with III.D. below) that may be appropriate in light of the known information.

B. Complainant Wishes to Pursue Formal or Informal Resolution.

At the initial intake meeting with the complainant, the Student Title IX Coordinator will gather basic information about the alleged incident and seek to determine how the complainant wishes to proceed, (e.g., whether the complainant wishes to pursue Formal Resolution, Informal Resolution or does not wish to pursue resolution of any kind).
If the complainant wishes to proceed with either Informal Resolution or Formal Resolution, the Student Title IX Coordinator will determine the name of the accused student, the date, location, and nature of the alleged sexual misconduct, and will schedule an individual intake meeting with the accused student in order to provide to the accused student with a general understanding of this process and to identify forms of support or immediate interventions available to the accused student.
If the complainant wishes to proceed with Formal Resolution, the Student Title IX Coordinator will promptly prepare and forward a formal complaint to the investigators for investigation. The formal complaint will set forth the name of the accused student, and the date, location and nature of the alleged sexual misconduct.

If the complainant wishes to proceed with Informal Resolution, the Student Title IX Coordinator will promptly refer the matter and initiate Informal Resolution proceedings in accordance with Section V, below.

C. Complainant Does Not Wish to Pursue Resolution or Requests Confidentiality.

If the complainant does not wish to pursue Formal or Informal Resolution and/or requests that his or her complaint remain confidential, Title IX nevertheless requires the College to investigate and take reasonable action in response to the complainant's information. The Student Title IX Coordinator will inform the complainant, however, that the College's ability to respond may be limited. The Student Title IX Coordinator may refer the allegation to a designated investigator to conduct a preliminary investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct. The investigator may weigh the complainant's request(s) against the following factors: the seriousness of the alleged sexual misconduct; whether there have been other complaints of sexual misconduct against the same accused student; and the accused student's right to receive information about the allegations if the information is maintained by the College as an "educational record" under FERPA. The Student Title IX Coordinator will inform the complainant if the College cannot ensure confidentiality. Even if the College cannot take disciplinary action against the accused student because the complainant insists on confidentiality or that the complaint may not be resolved, the Student Title IX Coordinator reserves the authority to undertake an appropriate inquiry, issue a "no-contact" order, and take other reasonably necessary measures, including the interim measures.

D. Interim Measures.

In all complaints of alleged sexual misconduct, regardless of whether the complainant wishes to pursue Formal Resolution, Informal Resolution or no resolution of any kind, the College will undertake an appropriate inquiry and take such prompt and effective action that is reasonably practicable under the circumstances to support and protect the complainant, including taking appropriate interim steps before the final outcome of the investigation and hearing, if any. Accordingly, at or after the intake meeting, the Student Title IX Coordinator may impose a "no-contact" order, which typically will include a directive that the parties refrain from having contact with one another, directly or through proxies, whether in person or via electronic means, pending the investigation and, if applicable, the hearing. The Student Title IX Coordinator, also may take any further protective action that he or she deems appropriate concerning the interaction of the parties pending the hearing, if any, including, without limitation, directing appropriate College officials to alter the students' academic and/or College employment arrangements and/or issuing an interim suspension. When taking steps to separate the complainant and the accused student, the Student Title IX Coordinator will seek to minimize unnecessary or unreasonable burdens on either party; provided, however, that every reasonable effort will be made to allow the complainant to continue in his or her academic and/or College employment arrangements. Violation(s) of the Student Title IX Coordinator’s directive and/or protective actions will constitute related offenses that may lead to additional disciplinary action.

INFORMAL RESOLUTION

A complainant who wishes to file a formal complaint with the Student Title IX Coordinator but who does not wish to pursue Formal Resolution, or an investigative team (in place of a reluctant victim) may request a less formal process, known as "Informal Resolution," as more particularly described in this section.
Although less formal than Formal Resolution, Informal Resolution is an appropriate resolution process; it is not mediation. The accused student is expected to attend the Informal Resolution proceeding, but is not required to participate.

A. Purpose of Informal Resolution.

Informal Resolution provides an opportunity for the complainant to confront the accused student, in the presence of, and facilitated by, a presiding officer, and to communicate their feelings and perceptions regarding the incident, the impact of the incident, and their wishes and expectations regarding protection in the future. The accused student will have an opportunity to respond.

B. Advisors.

The complainant and the accused student each may bring an advisor to the Informal Resolution. Advisors are assigned and subject to the same restrictions set forth for advisors in Formal Resolution, outlined above. The Panel Chair or a designee of the Chair will preside over the Informal Resolution, and may elect to be assisted by another member of the Panel or senior staff representative of the Vice President of Student Affairs.

C. Informal Resolution Where Accused Student Acknowledges Responsibility.

If, during the course of the Informal Resolution, the accused student elects to acknowledge his or her actions and take responsibility for the alleged sexual misconduct, the Informal Resolution will be concluded and the Panel Chair will propose a sanction. If both the complainant and the accused student agree to such proposed sanction, the complaint will be resolved without any further rights of appeal by either party. If either the complainant or the accused student objects to such proposed sanction, a hearing before the Panel will be convened for the exclusive purpose of determining a sanction, which determination is subject to appeal. For purposes of this sanction hearing, all of the other provisions of this process relating to the imposition of a sanction for sexual misconduct shall apply (including, for example, the provision for an impact statement, and the provisions governing the effective date of the sanction).

D. Informal Resolution Where Accused Student Contests Responsibility.

If the accused student contests the complaint of alleged sexual misconduct, the Vice President of Student Affairs, his or her designee or the Student Title IX Coordinator may nevertheless impose a protective order agreed upon by the parties, or (with or without such agreement) based on information derived from the Informal Resolution proceedings, taken together with any other relevant information known to the College at the time of the Informal Resolution.

E. Election of Formal Resolution.

The College or the complainant may, at any time prior to the conclusion of the Informal Resolution, elect to end such proceedings and initiate Formal Resolution instead. In such cases, statements or disclosures made by the parties in the course of the Informal Resolution may be considered in the subsequent Formal Resolution.

F. Privacy of Informal Resolution.

In order to promote honest, direct communication, information disclosed during Informal Resolution must remain private while the Informal Resolution is pending, except where disclosure may be required by law or authorized in connection with duties on behalf of the College.

FORMAL RESOLUTION

A complainant may elect to pursue a formal resolution, which involves a hearing before the Panel, as more particularly described in this section. Such a hearing is also referred to as "Formal Resolution." Formal resolution shall be completed within a reasonable timeframe (which is usually 60 days) unless extended for good cause by the Student Title IX Coordinator.

A. The Hearing Officer Cadre.

Formal Resolution involves a hearing before a trained Hearing Officers (the "Cadre") made up of two College administrators. Each hearing will be led by a Chair (Chair). The Cadre is a standing group composed administrators approved by the VP of Student Affairs. The Student Title IX Coordinator will ensure that all Panel members receive annual training.

B. Investigation.

When the complainant indicates a desire to pursue Formal Resolution, the Student Title IX Coordinator will forward the complaint to an appointed investigative team. The Student Title IX Coordinator and the Deputy Student Title IX Coordinator may serve as investigators on any investigation, if necessary. The investigation will be conducted in an adequate, reliable and impartial manner. The investigative team will receive annual training that draws on process, procedures, and professional resources.
Investigators are neutral fact-finders, who, during the course of the investigation, typically conduct interviews with the complainant, the accused student, and each third-party witness (including expert witnesses, where applicable); visit and take photographs at each relevant site (if necessary); and, where applicable, coordinate with law enforcement agencies to collect and preserve relevant evidence. The completed investigative report (the "investigative report") includes, among other things, summaries of interviews with the complainant, the accused student and each witness; summaries of interviews with expert witnesses (where applicable); photographs of the relevant site(s) and related logs; other photographic, electronic and forensic evidence; and a detailed written analysis of the events in question.

A typical investigation should be completed within 15 (fifteen) business days, if not sooner, but may be delayed with good cause, as determined by the Student Title IX Coordinator. If a hearing is granted by the investigative team, the Hearing Chair and the Panel will be provided with a copy of the investigative report. In addition, at least one member of the investigative team shall be present at the Panel hearing to answer any questions the Panel or the parties may have with regards to the investigative report.

The investigative team shall keep the complaint and investigation confidential to the extent possible or as required by law.

C. Granting/Denying a Hearing.

The investigative team will determine whether or not there is enough information available to grant a hearing. If the investigative team determines that a hearing should be granted, notice of that determination will be delivered, concurrently, to both parties and to the Student Title IX Coordinator. If a hearing is denied, a notification summarizing the investigative report will be distributed concurrently, to the parties and to the Student Title IX Coordinator.

The investigative team may specify which alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct, which type or types of sexual misconduct and, if applicable, which other, related alleged misconduct (as described in Section I.B above or the current Student Code of Conduct) will be reviewed by the Panel during the hearing. Concurrently with the delivery of the investigators' notice of a determination, the investigative team may, where the alleged sexual misconduct is sufficiently serious in their reasonable discretion, suggest to the Student Title IX Coordinator that interim measures be taken and may suggest what those interim measures should be, if not already in place.

If the accused student has been placed on an interim suspension, the Panel will use all information that is provided to the administration (in lieu of an investigative report) in addition to any subsequent information received, as the basis for any sexual misconduct allegation.

A complainant whose request for a hearing is denied, and an accused student whose records have been placed on hold, may appeal that decision to the Vice President of Student Affairs, whose decision will be final.

If the case involves a reluctant complainant and the investigative team has granted a hearing, the investigative team will present information to the Panel in place of the complainant. The team may have the option to pursue an informal resolution (see Article V below) with the approval of the Student Title IX Coordinator.

D. Complainant Changes Election to Informal Resolution; Accused Student Elects to Accept Responsibility.

Upon receipt of the investigative report, the complainant may decide to elect Informal Resolution instead of Formal Resolution, by submitting a written request to the Student Title IX Coordinator prior to the hearing date. At any time prior to the hearing, the accused student may elect to acknowledge his or her actions and take responsibility for the alleged sexual misconduct. In such cases, the Panel Chair will propose a resolution to the complainant and a sanction. If both the complainant and the accused student agree to such proposed sanction, the complaint is resolved without a hearing and both parties will waive their rights an appeal. If either the complainant or the accused student objects to the proposed sanction, a hearing before the Panel will be convened for the exclusive purpose of determining a sanction, which determination is subject to appeal. For purposes of this sanction hearing, all of the other provisions of this process relating to the imposition of a sanction for sexual misconduct shall apply (including, for example, the provision for an Impact Statement, and the provisions governing the effective date of the sanction).

E. Notice of Hearing; Challenges to Panel; Delivery of Notice.

If a hearing is granted by the investigators or occurs as a result of an interim suspension, or is granted by the Vice President of Student Affairs on appeal (as stated in IV(C) above), the Panel Chair will commence the Formal Resolution process by providing written notice to both parties (the "Notice of Hearing") stating: (1) the date, time, and place of the pre-hearing meeting at which preliminary matters will be discussed, as more fully addressed in Section IV.G.2, below; and (2) the names of the Panel members selected to serve as the Panel. A party wishing to challenge the participation of any Panel member must notify the Panel Chair, in writing, within five (5) business days of the scheduled hearing date stating the specific reason(s) for the objection. Failure to do so will constitute a waiver of any objection to the composition of the Panel. If a party wishes to challenge the participation of any panel member, and notifies the Panel Chair in writing within the allotted timeframe, the Chair will determine whether the challenge has merit and reserves discretion to make changes in the Panel composition at any time. The Notice of Hearing will be delivered, at the Panel Chair's discretion, by email or in person, and will be considered effective immediately upon receipt. The parties are expected to cooperate in the scheduling of the hearing. If either party fails to appear at the scheduled hearing, the Panel Chair may postpone the proceedings or direct that the Panel proceed and determine the complaint on the basis of the investigative report and any other available information, provided the absent party was given appropriate notification of the scheduled hearing date, as outlined in this section.

F. Advisors to the Parties.

Both the complainant and the accused student may request an advisor be present to support and assist them during the pre-hearing, hearing, and appeal stages of the Formal Resolution process. Outside legal counsel may be allowed at the discretion of the Panel Chair, however, their role is limited. (see Section IV.G.4, below, for a description of the role outside counsel may play during a hearing). The Panel Chair may disallow a particular advisor in cases where such adviser might be a witness or where such advisor's presence, in the Panel Chair's sole determination, would be obstructive to the process or for other good cause. An advisor may not direct questions to the Panel of witnesses at the hearing, but may consult with the student that he or she is assisting. The Panel Chair will not allow an advisor's presence to inhibit the parties' sharing of information or the conduct of the hearing.

G. Hearing Procedures

Pre-Hearing Submissions. The parties will provide the Panel Chair with a list of witnesses they propose to call, copies of documents, and a description of any other information they propose to present at the hearing, on or before a date set by the Chair. Evidence of the complainant's past sexual history will not be permitted at the hearing unless it is relevant to the complaint. The Chair will provide each party with a copy of the list of witnesses, and identification of copies of documents or other information submitted by each party. In the absence of good cause, as determined by the Chair in his or her sole discretion, the parties may not introduce witnesses, documents, or other information at the hearing that were not provided to the Chair by this deadline. The parties are also responsible for the attendance of their witnesses at the hearing.

Pre-Hearing Meeting and Determination of Complaint and Witnesses. The Chair will schedule a pre-hearing meeting prior to the hearing date. At the meeting, the Chair will review hearing procedures with the parties, separately or jointly, at the discretion of the Chair. The Chair will also review the complaint of alleged sexual misconduct (and related misconduct, if applicable), and review the parties' respective lists of proposed witnesses to assist them in eliminating redundant information. The College reserves the right, through the Chair, (a) to add to or modify the alleged violations specified by the investigators, pursuant to Section IV.C, above, at the pre-hearing meeting, and (b) to add witnesses to the witness lists at the pre-hearing meeting and/or at the hearing.

Pre-Hearing Discussion. Once a Panel member has been named to a Panel, he or she may not publicly or privately discuss the merits of the complaint with anyone not involved in the proceedings, with the parties themselves, or with anyone acting on the behalf of the parties. The Chair will provide the panelists with a copy of the Notice of Hearing, the investigative report, and the list of witnesses submitted by the parties with an instruction to avoid any public or private discussion of the merits of the complaint.

Legal Counsel. Legal counsel may be present (at the expense of the individual parties) at the hearing on behalf of either party. Such counsel may privately consult with and advise the parties during the proceeding, but may not question witnesses, address the Panel or otherwise directly participate in the hearing.

Conduct of the Hearing. The hearing will not follow a courtroom model, and formal rules of evidence will not be observed. Accordingly, for example, the parties may elect to rely upon the statements of witnesses contained in the investigative report if such witnesses are unavailable to attend the hearing. The Chair will determine the order of the witnesses (if any) and resolve any questions of procedure arising during the hearing, if any. The parties are responsible for ensuring that their proposed witnesses are present. Members of the Panel will review in advance of the hearing all the written materials provided to them by the Chair in accordance with Section IV.G.1, above. The parties will have received or been provided the opportunity to review all available materials during earlier stages of the pre-hearing process. The parties will be expected not to repeat undisputed details or non-material circumstances that would merely duplicate information contained in the investigative report or in other written materials. Only the Chair and the Panel may question the individual parties and any witnesses, unless permission is granted by the Chair to modify the questioning process provided the modification does not result in an adversarial tone. Both parties and their advisers may ask the Chair to pose additional questions or inquire further into specific matters by submitting these requests in writing, at the discretion of the Chair. If necessary, a brief break may be granted to allow both parties an opportunity to prepare and submit such requests. The Chair is empowered to disallow or reframe any questions that are irrelevant or redundant. After all witnesses have been questioned, each party may make a closing statement and request a short recess to prepare it. If the Panel determines that unresolved issues exist that would be clarified by the presentation of additional information, the Chair may suspend the hearing and reconvene it in a timely manner to receive such additional information. A delay may not be based on the failure of witnesses to appear without good cause or on the proposed introduction of documents or other information that should have been presented at the pre-hearing meeting. A Student IX Coordinator or Deputy Student Title IX Coordinator may attend any Provision 4 Hearing at any time to observe the hearing. If the Student Title IX Coordinator or the Deputy Student Title IX Coordinator did not directly participate in the investigation, then their presence in the hearing shall be for the purpose of observation only.

Testimony or Participation by the Accused. The accused student has the option not to testify; however, the exercise of that option will not preclude the Panel from proceeding and determining the complaint on the basis of the investigative report and other available information. In addition, as indicated in Section IV.E, above, if the accused student fails to appear at the hearing, after being duly notified of its place and time, the Panel will proceed with the scheduled hearing and make a determination on the basis of the investigative report and any other available information.

Testimony via Electronic Technology. Upon timely request by a party or witness, the College may be able to make arrangements (in appropriate circumstances) where parties or witnesses are otherwise unable to participate in the hearing via electronic means. The availability of testimony via electronic technology will be at the sole discretion of the Chair.

Recording. The hearing will be digitally recorded and is the sole official verbatim record of the hearing for the purposes of FERPA.

Standard of Proof. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has interpreted Title IX to require schools to evaluate evidence of alleged sexual misconduct under a "preponderance of the evidence" standard and that is the standard adopted by this process. A preponderance of the evidence means that the information shows that it is "more likely than not” that the accused student violated College policy. In the context of a hearing, the accused student will be found to be responsible for the alleged sexual misconduct if the Panel concludes that such sexual misconduct more likely than not occurred based upon careful review of all information presented. In making its determination, the Panel shall carefully consider all of the information presented and follow the procedures stated in this process in order to ensure as fair a hearing as possible for all parties.

Impact Statement. If the Panel determines that the accused student is responsible for sexual misconduct, e.g., that the sexual misconduct “more likely than not” occurred, both the complainant and the responsible student may present the Panel with a statement recommending a sanction (the "impact statement") for consideration by the Panel. The Panel is not bound by these statements in determining a sanction. Witnesses other than the parties may be allowed to provide a written character statement to the Panel during the Sanction Phase of the hearing. The Chair may determine, in his or her sole discretion whether portions of any written impact statement should be redacted because of the inflammatory or inappropriate nature of those statements.

Sanction. The Panel is required to consider suspending, dismissing, or expelling any student found responsible for sexual misconduct; however, the Panel may impose any sanction that it finds to be fair and proportionate to the violation. In determining an appropriate sanction, the Panel may consider any record of past violations of the Student Code of Conduct, as well as the nature and severity of such past violation(s). The Panel will also consider, as part of its deliberations, whether the sanction will (a) bring an end to the violation in question, (b) reasonably prevent a recurrence of a similar violation, and (c) remedy the effects of the violation on the complainant and the College community. The sanction decision will be made by the Panel by majority vote. Any sanction imposed will be explained or supported in the written decision of the Panel.

Decision. The decision of the Panel, including the sanction, if applicable, will be announced to both parties, concurrently, by the Chair at the conclusion of the hearing. In addition, the Chair will provide a copy of the Panel’s decision described in Section IV.G.15, below, to both parties, concurrently, and to the Student Title IX Coordinator, within five (5) calendar days following the conclusion of the hearing (or longer if the Chair determines there is good cause).

Appeals. Either party may appeal the Panel's decision by notifying the Chair of the Panel in writing within five (5) calendar days of the date of the Panel's decision. All appeals are not automatically approved. The Vice President of Student Affairs will determine if any of the following criteria is present before granting an appeal.

  • substantial evidence not previously considered;

  • evidence of bias by the administrator who conducted the disciplinary hearing;

  • significant errors in procedures by the administrator who conducted the disciplinary hearing;

  • significant finding of inequity in disciplinary actions related to findings.

Effective Date of Sanction. Sanctions imposed by the Panel become effective immediately until the resolution of any timely appeal of the Panel’s decision. The Vice President of Student Affairs (or his or her designee) may suspend the determination pending exhaustion of any appeals by the accused student pursuant to Section IV.G.13, above, or may allow the accused student to attend classes or to engage in other activity on a supervised or monitored basis, or may make such other modifications to the determination as may be advisable in the sole discretion of the Vice President of Student Affairs (or his or her designee). The Vice President of Student Affairs (or his or her designee) decision may not be appealed.

Privacy of the Hearing Process; Final Outcome Letter. In order to comply with FERPA and Title IX and to provide an orderly process for the presentation and consideration of relevant information without undue intimidation or pressure, the hearing process is not open to the general public. Accordingly, documents prepared in anticipation of the hearing (including the investigative report, the Notice of Hearing, and the pre-hearing submissions referenced in Section IV.G.1, above), written statements, testimony, or other information introduced at the hearing, and any transcript of the hearing itself, may not be disclosed outside of the hearing proceedings, except as may be required or authorized by law.

In addition to complying with Title IX and FERPA, the College is required to comply with the Clery Act. Under the Clery Act, both the complainant and the accused student must be informed of the hearing outcome, and the College may not impose any limitations on the re-disclosure of this information. Accordingly, following the hearing, the Panel will issue a written decision letter (the "Final Decision Letter"), concurrently to both the accused student and the complainant. The Final Decision Letter will set forth, as required by the Clery Act, the name of the accused student; the violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct for which the accused student was found responsible, if any; any essential findings supporting the Panel's decision on the issue of responsibility; and the sanction imposed, if any. College policy neither encourages nor discourages the further disclosure of the Final Decision Letter by either the complainant or the accused student. The College acknowledges that sharing the Final Decision Letter with others, including family, friends, legal counsel, mental health professionals, and sexual assault advocates or victims, may be a critically important part of a student's healing process.

The College will maintain the most updated process on the web at all times.

This procedure supersedes and replaces any and all policies related to this subject

Private: 
Public
Procedure Type: 
Adopted Date: 
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Procedure Name: 
Procedure for Reporting a Sexual Misconduct/Title IX/Sexual Harassment Complaint for Students and Employees
Status: 
Department Approved