Procedures for Investigating Reports and Claims
This section applies when both parties are students. The College has discretion to apply these provisions when one or both parties are neither students nor a faculty, staff member or contract services employee (e.g., when one party is a former student or is not enrolled at or employed by Rhodes). If the Respondent is a faculty member, staff member or contract services employee, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the case to the Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the Faculty and/ or the Chief Human Resources Officer for investigation, and it will be adjudicated under the employee discipline policies for faculty and staff and as described in the Rhodes College Handbook.
A. General Provisions.
- Rhodes will investigate all reports and Claims of Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct.
- The Associate Dean of Students and/or Title IX Coordinator will facilitate the investigative process from an administrative and logistical standpoint. It is anticipated that Title IX Coordinator will be the interface with the Claimant and Respondent through the investigation and resolution of a report or Claim from start to finish.
- Most investigations into incidents of alleged Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct will be completed within sixty (60) calendar days, excluding any appeal(s). The amount of time needed to investigate a report or Claim will depend in part on the nature of the allegation(s) and the evidence to be investigated (e.g., the number and/or availability of witnesses involved).
- Rhodes will make reasonable efforts to balance and protect the rights of the parties during any investigation commenced under this policy. Rhodes will respect the privacy of the parties and any witnesses in a manner consistent with the College's obligations to investigate the alleged incident, take appropriate interim and/or corrective action, and comply with any discovery or disclosure obligations required by law.
- Pursuing a report or Claim under this policy does not affect a Claimant’s ability to pursue a criminal action against the individual accused of the misconduct through the criminal justice system. An individual who has been subjected to Sex/Gender Discrimination or Sexual Misconduct may choose to file a report or Claim under this policy, pursue remedies through the criminal justice system, or both. To the extent allowed by law, Rhodes will cooperate with any other ongoing College or criminal investigations of the incident.
- Rhodes will keep the parties reasonably informed of the status of the investigation. If it is determined that more time is needed for the investigation, Rhodes will communicate the additional estimated amount of time needed to complete the investigation.
- Any reoccurrences of conduct found to have violated this policy or any other related concerns should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator.
B. Allegations of Sex/Gender Discrimination or Sexual Misconduct:
- Promptly following the filing of a Claim or the receipt of a report by the Title IX Coordinator, the Title IX Coordinator will schedule separate, individual meetings with the Claimant and the Respondent to:
- Provide the parties with a general explanation of the College's procedures for handling reports and Claims of incidents of Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct, the College's prohibition against retaliation, and the investigative process;
- Discuss and/or provide written information regarding forms of available support including, if applicable, campus Advisors and on- and off-campus resources;
- Discuss and/or provide written information regarding immediate interventions and potential interim measures;
- Discuss and/or provide written information regarding options and available assistance in changing any accommodations that may be appropriate and reasonably available concerning the individuals' academic, living, transportation and working situations;
- Where applicable, provide information about their rights and the College's responsibilities regarding criminal and civil court proceedings, including protective orders, restraining orders, and no-contact orders;
- Determine if the Claimant wishes to notify law enforcement authorities, wishes to be assisted in notifying law enforcement authorities, or does not wish to notify law enforcement authorities; and
- Provide information about how the College will evaluate requests for and protect confidentiality
The Title IX Coordinator may also schedule a meeting with a third-party Reporter to discuss some of the above information, as appropriate..
- If a Claim has been filed, a Respondent should submit a response within five (5) business days after the meeting with the Title IX Coordinator. The response should be in writing and may admit or deny the allegations and include any facts, evidence or witnesses that can disprove or provide context relevant to the allegations. The written response can also indicate acceptance or rejection of any penalties or remedies, or outline an alternative proposal for redress. Alternatively, a Respondent can also be deemed to provide a written response by meeting with the Title IX Coordinator and providing a verbal description of the items listed above, which the Title IX Coordinator will use to draft a written document that the Respondent will review, verify and sign to constitute their written response. If no response has been received by the Title IX Coordinator from the Respondent within the allotted time, the Title IX Coordinator will send a Notice Of Nonresponse to the Respondent. If no response has been received by the Title IX Coordinator from the Respondent within three (3) business days after issuance of the Notice Of Nonresponse, the Respondent may be deemed to waive participation in the investigation, which in turn may limit the Respondent’s right to present evidence in a Formal Resolution Hearing, as explained in Section XVI. At that point, it will be up to the Respondent to initiate participation in any investigation or hearing. In any event, where the Respondent is a student, the Respondent has the right to remain silent during the investigation and resolution process, without an automatic adverse inference resulting. If the Respondent chooses to remain silent, the investigation may ultimately still proceed and policy violation charges may still result, which may be resolved against the Respondent..
- A Claim investigation will be conducted by an Investigator and may include conducting substantive interviews of the Claimant, the Respondent, and any witnesses; reviewing law enforcement investigation documents, if applicable; reviewing relevant student files; and gathering and examining other relevant documents or evidence. The results of an investigation of a Claim will be presented to the Title IX Coordinator, who will ensure the investigation was prompt, fair, impartial, thorough, and consistent with this policy. The Investigator will then issue a written report to the parties. The parties shall have three (3) business days to respond or object to the report in writing. If warranted based on the party submission(s), the investigator shall conduct further investigation and update the report as necessary. Depending on how the Claim proceeds, the investigation report(s) and the parties’ responses may be presented at a Formal Resolution Hearing and/or may be presented at an Informal Resolution Conference. The investigation file should contain all information gathered during the investigation that is potentially relevant to the alleged misconduct; the investigator should not filter or exclude information unless it is clearly irrelevant or not pertinent to the facts at issue, such as impermissible character evidence.
- If no Claim was filed, and a report of Sex/Gender Discrimination or Sexual Misconduct is causing the investigation to be initiated, the Title IX Coordinator will be authorized to conduct an initial investigation and to determine whether an Investigator is needed to conduct the equivalent of a Claim investigation because the incident potentially implicates the College’s Title IX obligations to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for the Rhodes Community. If it does, then the Title IX Coordinator will treat the report as a Claim and initiate a full investigation and then a Formal Resolution Hearing. If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the report does not implicate the College’s Title IX obligations, they will be authorized to close the matter. In either instance, the Title IX Coordinator has discretion to keep limited remedial measures in effect.