Resolving Reports and Complaints

Overview


As outlined in the Reporting section of this policy, an individual who wishes to make a report of sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking or intimate partner violence is encouraged to make a report directly to the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinators, the Dean of Students Office, or Campus Safety. In every instance under this policy, the College, through the coordinated efforts of the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct, will conduct an initial Title IX Assessment. The Director of Campus Safety will make an immediate assessment of imminent risk to the individual or the campus community and respond accordingly.

Timely Warning

If a report of misconduct discloses a serious or continuing threat to the Union College community, the College may issue a campus wide timely warning (which can take the form of an email to campus) to protect the health or safety of the community. The timely warning will not include any identifying information about the complainant. Even where there is no imminent threat, the College may send campus-wide email notifications on all reported sexual misconduct.

At no time will the College release the name of the complainant to the general public without the express consent of the complainant. The release of the respondent’s name to the general public is guided by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Clery Act.

All College proceedings are conducted in compliance with the requirements of FERPA, the Clery Act, Title IX, and state and federal law. No information shall be released from such proceedings except as required or permitted by law and College policy

Coordination with Law Enforcement

Upon receipt of a report, Campus Safety will comply with any legal requirements to notify local law enforcement if a violent felony is suspected to have occurred and/or when physical evidence of the sexual misconduct, relationship violence, sexual harassment, or stalking incident is available and/or offered; to the fullest extent permitted by law, the identity of the complainant will not be disclosed without his/her permission being given. Physical evidence must be properly documented and stored by local law enforcement to maintain the ability for it to be presented as evidence and used in a legal case if a complaint is filed by the complainant with local law enforcement.

Information regarding Campus Safety’s Emergency Response Protocol can be found at:
http://www.union.edu/offices/safety/

The College encourages complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual misconduct, relationship violence, sexual harassment, and stalking that may also be crimes under New York law. The College, through Campus Safety, will assist a complainant in making a criminal report and cooperate with law enforcement agencies if the complainant decides to pursue the criminal process to the extent permitted by law.

The College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy may contain provisions, including definitions, burden of proof and standards that  differ from New York criminal law. A Complainant may seek recourse under this policy and/or pursue criminal action. Neither law enforcement’s determination whether or not to prosecute a respondent nor the outcome of any criminal prosecution are determinative of whether a violation of this policy has occurred. Proceedings under this policy may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off campus.

At the request of law enforcement, the College may agree to defer its Title IX fact-gathering until after the initial stages of a criminal investigation, but the College is not obligated to make such deferral.  The College will nevertheless communicate with the complainant regarding Title IX rights, procedural options, and the implementation of interim measures to assure safety and well-being.  If the College defers its Title IX fact-gathering, the College will promptly resume its Title IX fact gathering as soon as it is informed that law enforcement has completed its initial investigation or once it decides to stop deferring fact-gathering during a criminal investigation.

Initial Title IX Assessment

Upon receipt of a report, the College, through the coordinated efforts of the Title IX Team (the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct, the Director of Campus Safety, and a Deputy Title IX Coordinator), will conduct an initial Title IX assessment. The first step of the assessment will usually be a preliminary meeting with the complainant with the Title IX Team. The purpose of the preliminary meeting is to gain a basic understanding of the nature and circumstances of the report; it is not intended to be a full forensic interview. At this meeting, the complainant will be provided with information about resources, procedural options and interim remedies.

As part of the initial assessment of the report, the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct and the assigned Deputy Title IX Coordinator will:

  • Assess the nature and circumstances of the allegation.
  • Address immediate physical safety and emotional well-being needs.
  • Notify the complainant of his/her right to contact law enforcement and seek medical treatment, including the importance of preservation of evidence.
  • Enter the report into the College’s daily crime log.
  • Provide the complainant with information about:
    • On- and off-campus 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.
    • Sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault forensic examinations, and resources available through the New York State Office of Victim Services (found at https://ovs.ny.gov/ )
    • The range of interim accommodations and remedies.
  • An explanation of the procedural options, including Informal Resolution and Formal Resolution and the process for filing a Formal Complaint (see Section VIII.H.1 below, “Filing a Disciplinary Complaint”).
  • Assess for pattern evidence or other similar conduct by respondent.
  • Discuss the complainant’s expressed preference for manner of resolution and any barriers to proceeding.
  • Explain the College’s policy prohibiting retaliation.

This initial review will proceed to the point where a reasonable assessment of the safety of the individual and of the campus community can be made. Thereafter, an investigation may continue depending on a variety of factors, such as the complainant’s wish to pursue disciplinary action (Formal Complaint), the complainant’s request to maintain confidentiality (see Section VIII.E below “Request for Confidentiality”), the risk posed to any individual or the campus community by not proceeding, and the nature of the allegation.

If the complainant elects to file a disciplinary or Formal Complaint, a complainant’s Statement, in addition to other forms, is required to initiate the action.

At the conclusion of the Title IX assessment, the Title IX Team will determine the appropriate manner of resolution and, if appropriate, refer the report for further Investigation, Informal Resolution or Formal Resolution.

The determination as to how to proceed will be communicated to the complainant in writing. Depending on the circumstances and requested resolution, the respondent may or may not be notified of the report or resolution. A respondent will be notified when the College seeks action that would impact a respondent, such as protective measures that restrict his/her movement on campus, the initiation of an investigation or the decision to involve the respondent in Informal Resolution.

Request for Confidentiality

When a complainant requests that his/her name or other identifiable information not be shared with the respondent or that no formal action be taken, the Title IX Team will balance this request with its dual obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all College community members and to remain true to principles of fundamental fairness that require notice and an opportunity to respond before action is taken against a respondent. In making this determination, the College may consider the following factors, including but not limited to:

  • Whether the respondent has a history of violent behavior or is a repeat offender.
  • Whether the incident represents an escalation in unlawful conduct on behalf of the respondent from previously noted behavior.
  • The increased risk that the respondent will commit additional acts of violence.
  • Whether the respondent used a weapon or force.
  • Whether the complainant is a minor.
  • Whether the College 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.

The College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation, but its ability to do so may be limited based on the nature of the request by the complainant. Where the College is unable to take action consistent with the request of the complainant, a member of the Title IX Team will inform the complainant about the chosen course of action, which may include the College seeking disciplinary action against a respondent. Alternatively, the course of action may also include steps to limit the effects of the alleged harassment and prevent its recurrence that do not involve formal disciplinary action against a respondent or revealing the identity of the complainant.

Administrative Complaint

Union College may independently initiate a disciplinary complaint against a student under this policy pursuant to a complaint called a “Dean’s Complaint.” In this type of Administrative Complaint, the College will act as the complainant in the adjudication of a sexual misconduct complaint against a student. Such complaints will proceed under the processes outlined in this policy and may result in disciplinary action as if the complainant were a student.