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Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Harassment Grievance Procedures and Investigative Process

Jacksonville State University

The following process governs Jacksonville State University’s (JSU, University or university) procedures for receiving complaints of sexual misconduct and protected-class discrimination and harassment, the investigation of such complaints, the prompt and fair determination whether JSU’s policies have been violated, and the imposition of appropriate sanctions where violations have been found to exist. This procedure also governs the appeal process whereby a party aggrieved of any findings or sanctions may seek review.

Sexual and discriminatory misconduct are especially destructive of the educational process and wellbeing of the members of the JSU community. The prompt investigation and appropriate disposition of charges is required if the University is to fulfill its responsibilities and its obligations under federal law; therefore, to the extent the provisions herein may conflict with those related to charges of other Student Code of Conduct violations, this procedure governs.

The following definitions are intended to supplement those set out in the JSU’s Title IX policy and are not in substitution thereof. Definitions of conduct prohibited by University policy should be read liberally so as to accomplish JSU’s goal of protecting members of the University community from sexual and discriminatory abuse by others.

DEFINITIONS

Sexual Harassment is:  Unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that denies or limits, on the basis of sex, someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program or activities. Sexual harassment can take two forms: quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment.  Quid pro quo harassment occurs if a teacher or other University employee conditions an educational decision or benefit on the student’s submission to unwelcome sexual conduct., Hostile environment harassment is sexually-harassing conduct by a University employee, another student or a third-party that is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program or activities. Teachers and other University employees can participate engage in either type of harassment. Students and third parties generally can engage in only hostile environment harassment, unless they have been given responsibility over a student.  

Examples include, but are not limited to: an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a romantic or sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to unwanted sexual attention or ogling (lustful, flirtatious staring); to subject a person to egregious; unwanted sexual attention to punish a refusal to comply; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence; intimate partner violence, stalking; gender-based bullying or harassment.

Discrimination is:  Different treatment of an individual based upon his or her protected status, for which the actor does not have a nondiscriminatory reason for the difference in treatment.  Discrimination may be based upon an individual’s actual or perceived gender, race, color, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital or pregnancy status, religion, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or other protected status.

Discriminatory Harassment is:  Detrimental action based on an individual’s actual or perceived gender, race, color, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, marital or pregnancy status, religion, sexual orientation, sexual identity or other protected status that is sufficiently serious to limits or deny a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program or related services or activities.

Retaliatory Harassment is:  Intentional action taken by an accused individual or allied third party, absent legitimate non-discriminatory purposes, that harms an individual as reprisal for making a complaint or participating in a grievance proceeding.

Sexual Harassment of Student by Another Student is:  Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a student toward another student that is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program or related services or activities.

Sexual Harassment of a Faculty/Staff Member by a Student:  Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed toward a faculty/staff member by a student that is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with employment or creates a hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment of a Student by a Faculty/Staff Member is: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a faculty or staff member toward a student are considered to constitute sexual harassment when (1) submission to such sexual conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of rating an individual’s educational development or performance, or (2) such conduct is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational programs or related services or activities.

Importance of Circumspection By Those in Authoritative Positions: While a particular interaction must be sufficiently offensive to both a reasonable person and to the victim to be defined as misconduct, faculty and staff members and other persons of authority should be sensitive to questions about mutuality of consent that may be raised due to the conflict of interests that are inherent in personal relationships that result from professional and educational interactions.  Harassment is particularly damaging when it exploits the educational dependence and trust between students and faculty/staff.  When the authority and power inherent in faculty/staff relationships with students, whether overtly, implicitly, or through misinterpretation, is abused in any way, there is potentially great damage to the individual student, to the accused individual, and to the climate of the institution.

COMPLAINTS AND REPORTS OF OR CONCERNING
DISCRIMINATION AND/OR HARASSMENT
 

JSU does not permit discrimination or harassment in its educational programs and related activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or any other characteristic protected by institutional policy or state, local, or federal law.  Students who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment in violation of JSU policy should follow the procedure outlined in this herein to report these concerns.

This process involves an immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the JSU’s nondiscrimination policy has been violated.  If so, the University will initiate a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation.  This investigation is designed to provide a fair and reliable determination about whether the University’s nondiscrimination policy has been violated.  If so, the University will implement a prompt and effective remedy designed to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.

Students who wish to report a concern or complaint relating to discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct may do so by reporting the concern to the JSU’s Title IX Coordinator:

Jai Ingraham, Director, Diversity & Inclusion
109 Bibb Graves Hall
700 Pelham Road North
Jacksonville, AL  36265
256.782.8565
Email: jingraham@jsu.edu

Individuals with complaints of this nature also have the right to file a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education:
                                                                                             or

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20202-1100
Customer Service Hotline 800.421.3481
Fax 202.453.6012
TDD: 877.521.2172
Email: OCR@ed.gov
Web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr

Office for Civil Rights, Region IV
61 Forsyth Street S.W., Suite 19T10
Atlanta, GA 30303-8927
Telephone: (404) 974-9406
Facsimile: (404) 974-9471
Email: OCR.Atlanta@ed.gov

 

The University will not retaliate against any students for reporting a Title IX concern or complaint or for participating in the Title IX grievance resolution process.


                                                                 OVERVIEW OF THE GRIEVANCE RESOLUTION PROCESS

Title IX Coordinator’s Authority / Shared Responsibility: All complaints or reports of discriminatory conduct and/or harassment will be investigated promptly and neutrally. Unless a conflict exists, an administrative investigation will be conducted by the University’s Title IX Coordinator. Should a conflict exist whereby the Title IX Coordinator is unable to discharge the responsibilities of that position, the President will appoint an alternate member of the University administration to conduct the investigation. Reasonable efforts will be undertaken to interview all individuals possessing relevant information.  Where criminal misconduct is alleged or found to exist, the Title IX Coordinator’s investigation may include information received from, exchanged with or obtained in cooperation with responsible law enforcement agencies or the University Counsel.

Timely Resolution: The generally accepted standard to resolve formal Title IX complaints will be thirty (30) days from the date of the receipt of a complaint unless extenuating circumstances necessitate additional time up to a maximum of sixty (60) days.  If additional time is required for complaint resolution, the reason for and anticipated duration of the delay shall be made known to the individuals directly involved – usually a Complainant (victim) and Respondent (individual accused)[1]. University officials and employees directly involved or who have supervisory or legal responsibility may be informed of progress on a need-to-know basis. In rare circumstances resolution of a complaint may take longer than the goals set due to unavailability of parties or witnesses, University closings (scheduled and unscheduled) or other compelling reasons. In such cases, notice of unanticipated delays shall be given to persons directly involved or affected.

Concurrent Remedies: Nothing herein shall prohibit a Complainant from filing or pursuing a criminal or civil complaint at the same time a Title IX grievance complaint investigation is underway.

Not a Substitute for Non-Title IX Disciplinary Process: The Title IX grievance process is intended to apply to student civil right grievances against employees, employee civil rights grievances against students, student-on-student civil rights grievances, student civil rights grievances against visitors or guests, and guest or visitor civil rights grievances against students.  All other grievances by students against students will be addressed through the student code of conduct procedures as outlined in the student handbook.  The most current and accurate version of the student handbook is located online at http://www.jsu.edu/studentaffairs/handbook.html.

Possible Dual Responsibility With Human Resources: In the event an employee is taking classes or should a student also be an employee (e.g., work study, Graduate Assistant, Resident Assistant), procedures applicable to employee-on-employee grievances through the Department of Human Resources may also be applicable.  It is the practice of JSU to bring employee and student grievance mechanisms together for joint resolution in such cases.  Sanctions may result in an individual’s capacity as a student, as an employee, or both.

INFORMAL AND FORMAL GRIEVANCE PROCESS

Voluntary Informal Resolution Encouraged But Not Required: Before pursuing the formal complaint process, students are encouraged to voluntarily pursue every reasonable effort to constructively resolve issues with other students, faculty, staff, or administrators. If deemed to be practical and safe, the problem or grievance should first be discussed with the individual or other individual(s) involved.  If satisfactory resolution is not reached after discussion with the individual(s), the student may contact the individual’s direct supervisor in an attempt to resolve the complaint.  If these efforts are unsuccessful or deemed impractical, the formal complaint process may be initiated.  The University does not require a student to contact any other person involved or that person’s supervisor if doing so is impracticable, if the student believes that the conduct cannot be effectively addressed through informal means, or if the aggrieved student decides it is his/her bests interests not to do so.

Formal Grievance Process: JSU’s Title IX Coordinator is designated to respond to concerns, complaints and grievances regarding discrimination and sexual misconduct.  While notice of a formal statement of grievance (complaint) can be made in person to an appropriate official (President, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Judicial Coordinator, University Police, Athletic Director, Human Resources, Faculty and Supervisory Staff), students are strongly encouraged to submit grievances in writing or by email to the Title IX Coordinator, 109 Bibb Graves Hall, 256.782.8565 or jingraham@jsu.edu.

Strict compliance with the structure or content of a complaint is not required. The following structure, however, will be helpful to the Title IX Coordinator in initiating, undertaking and concluding a timely investigation. The complaint should clearly and concisely describe the alleged incident(s), when and where it (they) occurred, and may state any desired remedy sought.  The grievance should be signed by the Complainant or, in the case of an email submission, sent in letter format and should contain the name and all contact information for the Complainant.  Any supporting documentation and evidence should be referenced within the body of the formal grievance.  Additionally, the Complainant should submit any supporting materials in writing as quickly as is practicable. Undue delay in submitting a complaint complicates the investigation.

The Complainant’s supporting documentation should clearly demonstrate all informal efforts, if any, to resolve the issue(s) with the person involved and the person’s supervisor.  This includes names, dates and times of attempted or actual contact along with a description of the discussion and the manner of communication made in the course of each effort. 

Upon receipt of a grievance the Title IX Coordinator will open a formal case file and coordinate any interim action, accommodations for the alleged victim, or other necessary remedial short-term actions necessary to ensure the wellbeing of such victim or Complainant and to protect the integrity of the investigation.

The Title IX Coordinator will take the following steps, perhaps among others:

  • Determine the identity and contact information of a reported victim or reported victims.
  • Implement any initial remedial actions necessary to ensure safety of persons or integrity of evidence, whether requested or deemed necessary.
  • Conduct immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the accused individual and what policy violations should be alleged as part of the complaint. If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause of a policy violation or Title IX violation (i.e. a complaint alleging conduct that is not a violation of University policy or Title IX) the grievance will be closed with no further action.
  • Where a complaint facially states sufficient facts to establish reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred, meet with the Complainant to finalize the complaint and prepare a notice to the individual(s) accused.
  • Deliver the notice of the opening of an investigation to the person or persons accused of a violation or violations.
  • Commence a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the accused individual, who may be given notice of charges prior to or at the time of the interview.
  • Use the preponderance of evidence standard in conducting the investigation (i.e., more likely than not that the accused individual violated University policy or Title IX as alleged).
  • Complete the investigation promptly without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline.
  • Provide a summary of findings to the Judicial Coordinator for presentation to the accused individual for acceptance or rejection.
  • Share the written findings with and update both the Complainant and the accused individual on the status of the investigation and the outcome.

Where the accused individual is found not responsible for the alleged violation(s), the investigation should be closed.  Where the accused individual accepts the finding that he/she violated University policy, the Judicial Coordinator will impose appropriate sanctions.  The University will act to end any sexual misconduct, harassment or discrimination, prevent a recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the University community.

In the event that the accused individual rejects the findings, in part or entirely, the Judicial Coordinator will convene a hearing within two weeks (the University's goal is to set a hearing within a week to ten days) to determine whether the accused individual is in violation of the misconduct alleged.  In the discretion of the Judicial Coordinator, a hearing may be before the Judicial Coordinator alone or conducted before a panel convened for that purpose in accordance with University policy governing disciplinary hearings; however, where the Judicial Coordinator initially elects to hear a complaint without a panel, he must so advise the complainant and the accused in the formal notice of the setting of the disciplinary hearing. In such case, either the complainant or an accused may request a hearing be conducted before a panel provided such a request is made in writing no later than twenty-four (24) hours prior to the date and time set by the Judicial Coordinator, weekends, holidays and university closings excepted.

At the hearing, the findings of the investigation will be admitted, but are not binding on the decider(s) of fact.  The hearing will determine whether it is more likely than not that the accused individual violated University policy as alleged.  The goal of the hearing is to provide an equitable resolution via a fundamentally fair and neutral process, respecting the civil and legal rights of all participants.

Where an accused individual is found in violation, the Judicial Coordinator will impose appropriate sanctions.  The University will act to end the misconduct or discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the University community.  If the accused individual disagrees with the Judicial Coordinator’s decision and/or the sanctions imposed, he/she may appeal to the Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. (P&VPASA) as described below. As further set forth below, if the accused individual disagrees with the P&VPASA’s decision, he/she may appeal to the President who shall review the investigative and adjudicatory process for adherence to the requirements of due process only.  The President’s decision is final.

Elaboration on Student Participation in the Investigative Process

The Title IX Coordinator will contact or request a meeting with the initiator of the formal grievance (Complainant), and the alleged victim (if different people).  The Title IX Coordinator also may contact or request a meeting with relevant University staff, students, or others as part of the investigation.  The Complainant may request at any time to meet with and discuss the allegations of the grievance with the Title IX Coordinator or any case officers in the event of an ongoing criminal investigation and may offer any documentation, witnesses, or other materials in support of the complaint.  The Complainant has the option to have an advocate or attorney present during a meeting with the Title IX Coordinator but must advise the Title IX Coordinator of the identity of any advocate before the date of any meeting where such a person is expected to be present.  During a meeting with the Title IX Coordinator, an attorney may give advice to the Complainant, however, an attorney is not allowed to speak or argue for the Complainant.  These procedures are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings.  No audio or video recording of any kind, other than as required by institutional procedure, is permitted.  The Title IX Coordinator may remove anyone disrupting the meeting from the discussion.  All these same opportunities and privileges extend to all parties to the investigation and are applicable to any judicial hearing with the Judicial Coordinator.

FORMAL HEARINGS OF A COMPLAINT

Disciplinary hearings for charged violations of this policy will be conducted in the same procedural manner as other disciplinary hearings. Where this policy calls for or requires procedures that differ or require expedited review, this policy shall control.

Grounds, Procedure and Timeframes for Filing an Appeal

The decision of the Title IX Coordinator or the Judicial Coordinator may be appealed by petitioning the Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs (P&VPASA) to review the decision.  All sanctions imposed by the Judicial Coordinator will be in effect during the appeal unless imposition of sanctions is stayed by the Judicial Coordinator upon request and a finding made by him/her that a stay is reasonable and can be allowed without jeopardizing the safety of other persons or the integrity of the educational mission of the University. The decision whether to grant a stay is in the sole discretion of the Judicial Coordinator but is subject to expedited review by the P&VPASA, if requested.  In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the Respondent-student to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term.

The decision of the Title IX Coordinator or the Judicial Coordinator may be appealed by written petition only (verbal notice or email notices are not adequate) and may be pursued by either a Complainant or an accused Respondent.  Both Respondents or Complainants may petition the P&VPASA for a review of the decision of the Title IX Coordinator or the Judicial Coordinator, or the sanctions imposed, which petition for review must be filed (physically received) within seven(7) business days (no later than close of business of the seventh business day) following the appealing party receiving the Title IX Coordinator's or the Judicial Coordinator’s written findings and final decision. The P&VPASA will share the appeal documents filed with the other party, who may file a response thereto in a similar manner within seven (7) business days of notice of the same.  The P&VPASA will initially determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds of appealability and is timely.  The original findings and sanctions imposed shall stand if the appeal is determined not to be timely or substantively eligible for review. If so found, the decision may be appealed to the President for a review of that finding alone.  In such event, if the President sustains the decision of the P&VPASA, the appeal will be dismissed with finality and the P&VPASA so advised. If the appeal is found by the P&VPASA to have standing (timely and stating a proper ground for review), upon request of the P&VPASA the investigative and judicial records shall be promptly forwarded by the Judicial Coordinator for review.  The Judicial Coordinator’s decision shall be accorded a presumption of correctness, and the party requesting review by the filing of an appeal must affirmatively demonstrate (as opposed to simply allege) procedural or substantive error. Grounds for appeal are as follows and are exclusive of any others:

  1. A procedural or substantive error occurred in either the investigative or adjudicatory process that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantial bias, material deviation from established procedures, the findings and decision are contrary to the great weight of the evidence, etc.)
  2. To consider new evidence it must be newly discovered evidence (unavailable during the original hearing or investigation) that could substantially impact the original findings, decision or sanction.  A summary of this new evidence and its probable impact must be included in the notice of appeal. Evidence that was known or reasonably should have been known and available at the time of the investigation or original hearing but is only now disclosed (newly disclosed evidence as opposed to newly discovered evidence) shall not be deemed to be sufficient.
  3. The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation found.

If the P&VPASA determines that new additional evidence should be considered, he/she shall return the complaint to the Title IX Coordinator to investigate or Judicial Coordinator to consider in light of the new evidence only. 

If the P&VPASA determines that a material procedural or substantive error occurred, he/she may return the matter to the Judicial Coordinator with instructions to reconvene a hearing to cure the error.  In rare cases, where the procedural or substantive error cannot be cured by the Judicial Coordinator, the P&VPASA shall order a new hearing on the complaint.  The results of a reconvened or new hearing can be appealed to the P&VPASA in the same manner as the original appeal. 

If the P&VPASA is of the opinion that the sanctions imposed are inadequate or disproportionate to the severity of the violation, he/she shall return the matter with an explanation of his/her reasons for doing so to the Judicial Coordinator, who may then increase, decrease or otherwise modify the sanctions.

The procedures governing the hearing of appeals include the following:

  • All parties shall be timely informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal considerations and review, and the results of the appeal decision in all phases of the process. Unless a principal party to the process (Complainant, Respondent) advises otherwise, notices may be made by utilizing the email address of a party on file with the Registrar.
  • The submission of new evidence or finding of procedural error in the investigative process where the result of the investigation or Judicial Coordinator’s decision is reasonably caused to be called into question should be resolved in light most favorable to the party appealing and considered as an opportunity to return the appeal to the Title IX Coordinator or Judicial Coordinator for clarification or reconsideration where appropriate; however, appellate review is not an opportunity for the P&VPASA to substitute her/his judgment for that of the original hearing body merely because he/she may disagree with their finding and/or sanctions.  Appeal decisions are to be deferential to the original hearing body, making changes to the findings only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so.
  • Appeals are conducted by review only and not by the P&VPASA conducting a rehearing of the evidence, and in most cases are confined to a review of the record of the original hearing and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal.
  • Sanctions imposed by the Judicial Coordinator are implemented immediately unless the Judicial Coordinator or P&VPASA stays implementation for good cause in extraordinary circumstances pending the outcome of the appeal.
  • The P&VPASA will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within seven (7) business days from receipt of an appeal notice, or where a response is filed by the other principal to the disciplinary hearing (Complainant or Respondent, as applicable) then within seven (7) business days of the receipt of said response, time being of the essence. Timeframes and deadlines may be extended for compelling reason or to comply with requirements of due process. Notice of any extensions shall be promptly given to persons involved.

Should an appeal result in the matter being returned to the Title IX Coordinator or Judicial Coordinator by the P&VPASA for additional investigation or adjudication, further investigation by the Title IX Coordinator and/or consideration by the Judicial Coordinator shall be finalized and written notice given within seven (7) business days and the P&VPASA so informed. Appeal of any final decisions made following a return shall be filed in the same manner as the original appeal.

The decision of the P&VPASA is final in all regards, except a limited appeal may lie to the President whose review is limited solely to a determination that the parties involved were afforded substantial due process, which decision shall be final. Should the President determine that there was a lack of substantial due process, he/she shall so inform the P&VPASA and shall return the matter to the P&VPASA with instructions.

All investigatory and adjudicatory proceedings shall be concluded within sixty (60) days of the filing of a complaint, absent compelling reason for delay.

To prevent delay caused by the unavailability of any JSU official designated herein, the President may designate and temporarily appoint another University official to discharge the duties of the unavailable official.

 SPECIAL GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

  1. University as Complainant

As necessary, JSU reserves the right to initiate a complaint, to serve as complainant and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by a reputed victim of misconduct.

  1. False Reports

JSU will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents or violations.  It is a violation of the University’s sexual misconduct and discrimination policies to make an intentionally false report of any applicable violation. Making an intentionally false report may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.

  1. Immunity for Victims and Witnesses

JSU encourages the reporting of all policy violations by victims and witnesses, especially those involving sexual misconduct or discrimination.  Sometimes, victims or witnesses are hesitant to report to University officials or participate in grievance processes because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident.  It is in the best interest of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to University officials, and that witnesses come forward to share what they know.  To encourage reporting, the University pursues a policy of offering victims and witnesses of sexual misconduct and discrimination, in particular, limited immunity from being charged for policy violations related to the alleged misconduct where they may have been involved only to a minor degree or involved in misconduct not directly related to the violation(s) under investigation or charged. While violations cannot be overlooked, the University will, if appropriate, provide educational rather than punitive responses, in such cases.

  1. Bystander Engagement

The welfare of students in our community is of paramount importance.  At times, students on and off-campus may need assistance.  JSU encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need.  Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a sexual misconduct victim to the hospital or University Police).  The University pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who offer to help others in need.  While policy violations cannot be overlooked, the University will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.

  1. Parental Notification

JSU reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risks to the student, a change in student status or conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations.  The University may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations.  Where a student is not dependent, the University will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is significant health and safety risk.  The University also reserves the right to designate which University officials have a need to know about individual conduct complaints pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

  1. Notification of Outcomes

The outcome of an administrative investigation and/or hearing is part of the educational record of the accused individual, and is protected from release under federal law, FERPA.  However, JSU observes legal exceptions as follows:

  • Complainants in non-consensual sexual contact/intercourse incidents have an absolute right to be informed of the outcome, essential findings, and sanctions of the hearing, in writing, without condition or limitation.
  • Complainants in all other gender-based complaints, including but not limited to, complaints of sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, relationship violence, discrimination and any other gender-based offense,  have an absolute right to be informed of the outcome, in writing, and to be informed of any sanctions that directly relate to them, and to essential findings supporting the outcome when the outcome is one of violation and/or is equitable to share the essential findings with all parties.
  • JSU may release the name, nature of the violation and the sanction for any student who is found in violation of the sexual misconduct policy.  The University will release this information to the Complainant in any of these offenses regardless of the outcome.
  • JSU reserves the right to release to appropriate law enforcement agencies and/or the District Attorney the filing of a complaint involving sexual misconduct, or the results of an investigation or disciplinary proceeding where it appears criminal misconduct may be involved.
  1. Alternative Testimony Options

For sexual misconduct complaints, and other complaints of an extreme sensitive nature, whether the alleged victim is serving as the Complainant or as a witness, alternative testimony options will be given, such as placing a privacy screen in the hearing room, or allowing the alleged victim to testify outside the physical presence of the accused individual, such as Skype.  While these options are intended to help make the alleged victim more comfortable, they are not intended to and shall not be utilized to work to the disadvantage of the accused individual.

  1. Past Sexual History/Character

The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be admissible by the other party in the investigation or hearing unless such information is determined to be highly relevant by the Title IX Coordinator or Judicial Coordinator.  All such information sought to be admitted will be presumed irrelevant, and any request to overcome this presumption by the parties must be included in the complaint/response or a subsequent written request, and must be reviewed in advance of the hearing by the Title IX Coordinator.  While previous conduct violations by the accused individual are not generally admissible as information about the present alleged violation, the Title IX Coordinator or Judicial Coordinator may consider it or allow it to be presented only if:

  • The accused was previously found to be responsible for the conduct.
  • The previous incident was substantially similar to the present allegation.
  • Information indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern by the accused individual.

If you have any questions regarding any item specified in this policy please contact the
Title IX Coordinator, 109 Bibb Graves Hall, 256.782.8565 or jingraham@jsu.edu.

Statement of Victim’s / Complainant’s Rights
  • The right to investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible complaints of sexual misconduct or discriminatory misconduct made in good faith to University administrators.
  • The right to be treated with respect by University officials.
  • The right to have others present (in support or advisory roles) during an interview or hearing.
  • The right not to be pressure to or discouraged by University officials from reporting an assault to both on-campus and off-campus authorities.
  • The right to be promptly informed of the outcome and sanctions of any disciplinary hearing involving sexual misconduct or discrimination.
  • The right to be informed by University officials of options to notify proper law enforcement authorities, including University Police (UPD) and local law enforcement resources, and the option to be assisted by campus administrators in notifying such authorities, if the student so chooses.  This also includes the qualified right not to report, if this is the victim’s desire.
  • The right not to be retaliated against by the University for reporting a Title IX violation or for participating in the Title IX grievance resolution process.
  • The right to be notified of available counseling, mental health or student services for victims of sexual misconduct or discrimination, both on campus and in the community.
  • The right to notification of and options for, and available assistance in, changing academic and living situations after an alleged incident, if so requested by the victim and if such changes are reasonably available.  Accommodations may include:
    • Change of an on-campus student’s housing to a different on-campus location.
    • Assistance from University support staff in completing relocation.
    • Exam and assignment rescheduling.
    • Transferring class sections.
    • Temporary withdrawal.
    • Alternative course completion options.
    • Such other accommodations as may be reasonable or necessary.
  • The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history admitted as evidence in a campus hearing.
  • The right not to have any complaint of sexual misconduct mediated as opposed to adjudicated.
  • The right to make a victim impact statement at the hearing and to have that statement considered in determining sanction(s).
  • The right to a campus no contact order against another student who has engaged in or threatens to engage in stalking, threatening, harassing or other improper behavior that presents a danger to the welfare of the complaining student or others.
  • The right to have complaints of sexual misconduct responded to quickly and with sensitivity by University officials.
  • The right to appeal the sanctions, in accordance with the standards for appeal established in the sexual and discrimination misconduct policy.
  • The right to review all documentary evidence available regarding the complaint, subject to the privacy limitations imposed by state and federal law, at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to a disciplinary hearing.
  • The right to be informed of the names of all witnesses who will be called to give testimony, within forty-eight (48) hours of the hearing, except in cases where a witness’ identity will not be revealed to the accused individual for compelling safety reasons (this does not include the name of the alleged victim/complainant, which will always be revealed).
  • The right to preservation of privacy, to the extent possible and allowed by law.
  • The right to a hearing closed to the public.
  • The right to petition that any member of the University administration/staff, including the Title IX Coordinator, Judicial Coordinator, Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs or members of any hearing committee, be removed on the basis of demonstrated bias.
  • The right to bring a victim’s advocate or advisor to all phases of the investigation and hearing.
  • The qualified right to give testimony in the hearing by means other than being in the same room with the accused individual.
  • The right to ask the Title IX Coordinator or Judicial Coordinator to identify and question witnesses, including expert witnesses.
  • The right to be fully informed of the sexual misconduct and discrimination policy and procedures.
  • The right to have the University arrange the presence of student, faculty and staff witnesses, and the opportunity to ask questions, directly or indirectly, of witnesses present (including the accused individual), and the right to challenge documentary evidence.
  • The right to be present for all testimony given and evidence presented at the hearing.
  • The right to have complaints heard by the Judicial Coordinator and hearing committee members who have received annual sexual misconduct training.
  • The right to a hearing committee comprised of representatives of both genders.
  • The right to have University policies and procedures followed without material deviation.
  • The right to be informed in advance, when possible, of any non-confidential release of information regarding the complaint. (Some legal and regulatory reporting is mandatory and may be done by the University without prior notice or consent.)
  • The right not to have released to the public any personally identifiable information about the complainant, without his or her consent.
Statement of the Accused Individual’s Rights
  • The right to prompt investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible complaints of sexual misconduct or discriminatory misconduct made against him/her.
  • The right to be treated with respect by University officials.
  • The right to be informed of and have access to campus resources for medical, counseling and advisory services where indicated.
  • The right to be fully informed of the nature, rules and procedures of the hearing process and to timely written notice of all alleged violations within the complaint, including the nature of the violations and possible sanctions.
  • The right to a hearing on the complaint, including timely notice of the hearing date, and adequate time for preparation.
  • The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history admitted as evidence in a campus hearing.
  • The right to make an impact statement at the campus conduct proceeding and to have that statement considered by the Judicial Coordinator in determining any sanction.
  • The right to appeal sanction(s) imposed, in accordance with the standards for appeal established by the sexual misconduct policy.
  • The right to review all documentary evidence available regarding the complaint, subject to the privacy limitations imposed by state and federal law, at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the hearing.
  • The right to be informed of the names of all witnesses who will be called to give testimony, within forty-eight (48) hours prior to the hearing, except in cases where a witness’ identity will not be revealed to the accused individual for compelling safety reasons (this does not include the name of the alleged victim/complainant, which will always be revealed).
  • The right to a hearing closed to the public.
  • The right to petition that the Title IX Coordinator, Judicial Coordinator, Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs or members of the disciplinary hearing committee be removed on the basis of demonstrated bias.
  • The right to have the University arrange the presence of students, faculty and staff witnesses and the opportunity to ask questions, directly or indirectly, of witnesses present, and the right to challenge documentary evidence.
  • The right to have complaints heard by the Judicial Coordinator and disciplinary hearing committee members who have received annual sexual misconduct adjudication training.
  • The right to have University policies and procedures followed without material deviation.
  • The right to have an advisor or advocate accompanying me and assisting in the hearing process.  This advisor can be anyone, including an attorney provided at the accused individual’s own cost, but the advisor may not take part directly in the hearing itself, though they may communicate with the accused individual as necessary.
  • The right to a fundamentally fair hearing, as defined in these procedures.
  • The right to a hearing outcome based solely on evidence presented during the conduct process.  Such evidence shall be credible, relevant, based in fact, and without prejudice.
  • The right to written notice of the outcome and sanction(s) of the hearing
  • The right to a hearing committee comprised of representatives of both genders
  • The right to be informed in advance, when possible, of any non-confidential release of information regarding the complaint. (Some legal and regulatory reporting is mandatory and may be done by the University without prior notice or consent.)

COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THIS POLICY AND PROCEDURES

Jacksonville State University

  • Does information about a complaint remain private?

The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct and discrimination must be respected, except insofar as it interferes with the JSU’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct.  Where privacy is not strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis.  Dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure is not permitted.  Violations of the privacy of the complainant or the accused individual may lead to conduct action by the University.

In all complaints of sexual misconduct and discrimination, all parties will be informed in writing of the outcome.  In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief public announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, without using the name or identifiable information of the alleged victim.  Certain University administrators may be informed of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy (i.e., President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Deans, Judicial Coordinator, University Police, Athletic Director and Human Resources).  If there is a report of an act of alleged sexual misconduct is made to an official of the University and there is evidence that a felony has occurred, University Police will be and the District Attorney may be notified.  This does not mean charges will be automatically filed or that a victim must speak with the police, but the institution is legally required to notify law enforcement authorities.  The institution also must statistically report the occurrence on campus of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics.  The statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.

  • Will my parents be told?

No, not unless you tell them.  Whether you are the complainant or the accused individual, the University’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent.  However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents.  University officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, in a life-threatening situation, or if the accused individual has signed a written release, or as stated in Paragraph “e” of the “Special Grievance Procedures” outlined above.

  • Will the accused individual know my identity?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint.  Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused individual has the right to know the identity of the complainant/alleged victim.  If there is a hearing, the University does provide options for questioning, including using a room divider or using separate hearing rooms.

  • Do I have to name the perpetrator?

Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator.  No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint.  Victims should be aware that not identifying the perpetrator might limit the institution’s ability to respond

  • What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

Do not contact the alleged victim.  You may immediately want to contact someone in the campus community who can act as your advisor.  You may also contact the Title IX Coordinator or Judicial Coordinator for an explanation of the University’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints.  You may want to talk to a confidential counselor at Counseling Services or seek other community assistance.

  • Will I (as a victim) have to pay for counseling/or medical care?

JSU provides free counseling at the Counseling Services office located in 140 Daugette Hall, (256) 782.5475.  If a victim is accessing community and no-institutional services, payment for these will be the responsibility of the victim.

  • What about legal advice?

Victims of criminal sexual assault need not retain a private attorney to pursue prosecution because representation will be handled by the District Attorney’s office.  You may want to retain an attorney if you are the accused individual or are considering filing a civil action.  The accused individual may retain counsel at their own expense if they determine that they need legal advice about criminal prosecution and/or the campus conduct proceeding.

  • What about changing residence hall rooms?

If you want to move, you may request a room change.  Room changes under these circumstances are considered emergencies.  It is typical institutional policy that in emergency room changes, the student is moved to the first available suitable room.  If you want the accused individual to move, and believe that you have been the victim of sexual misconduct, you must be willing to pursue a formal or informal University complaint.  No contact orders can be imposed and room changes for the accused individual can usually be arranged quickly.  Other accommodations to you might include:

    • Assistance from University Housing & Residence Life in completing the relocation
    • Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund
    • Assistance with or rescheduling an academic assignment
    • Taking an incomplete in a class
    • Assistance with transferring class sections
    • Temporary withdrawal
    • Assistance with alternative course completion options
    • Other accommodations for safety as necessary
  • What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?

Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime.  Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the alleged victim’s person within 120 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time.  If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to the Jacksonville Medical Center Emergency Room, before washing yourself or your clothing.  A victim advocate from the institution can also accompany you to the hospital and the University Police Department can provide transportation.  If a victim goes to the hospital, University Police will be called, but she/he is not obligated to talk to the police or pursue prosecution.  Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to a victim, but will not obligate him or her to any course of action.  Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the victim decide later to exercise it.

From the victim:  The hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections.  If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless).  If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence.  You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want.  Do not disturb the crime scene – leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.

  • Will a victim be sanctioned when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used drugs or alcohol?

No.  The severity of the infraction will determine the nature of the University’s response, but whenever possible the University will respond educationally rather than punitively to the illegal use of drugs and/or alcohol.  The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the University does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.

  • Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint?

The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused individual’s responsibility.  On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the complainant’s memory and, therefore, may affect the outcome of the complaint.  A person bringing a complaint of sexual misconduct must either remember the alleged incident or have sufficient circumstantial evidence, physical evidence and/or witnesses to prove his/her complaint.  If the complainant does not remember the circumstances of the alleged incident, it may not be possible to impose sanctions on the accused without further corroborating information.  Use of alcohol and/or drugs will never excuse a violation by an accused individual.

  • Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?

Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.

  • What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?

If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct or discrimination, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the institution’s sexual misconduct and discrimination policy, you should contact the Title IX Coordinator or Judicial Coordinator.

Title IX Coordinator                                                         
109 Bibb Graves Hall                                                       
256.782.8565                                                                 
jingraham@jsu.edu                                                        



[1] While a “complainant” is normally the alleged “victim” of an incident, such  may not always be the case. For the purposes of this document, however, complainant and victim will be used synonymously (complainant and alleged victim being the same individual).

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