Gender-Based Misconduct Procedures
The goal of this section is to describe Relay’s disciplinary process for addressing alleged violations of the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy. This describes how to report an incident of gender-based misconduct, individuals’ rights and responsibilities in the internal disciplinary process, and other important information about privacy, advisors, and interim measures. It then details the various resolutions available.
Reporting Misconduct Internally
All members of the Relay community, including students, staff, faculty, vendors, and visitors who experience, witness, or hear about gender-based misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, are encouraged to immediately contact Relay’s Title IX coordinator, Dr. Nichelle Bowes, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or submitting a support request. In an emergency, please call 911. There is no time limit on how long after an incident individuals can make a report of misconduct. However, Relay’s ability to respond to a report may be hindered by the length of time between the alleged misconduct and the report itself.
Once Relay is informed of alleged misconduct, the Title IX coordinator or a designee will notify the reporting individual and the respondent (hereby known as “parties”) of their rights. See Appendix C for Relay’s Students’ Bill of Rights. The Title IX coordinator will help the parties navigate the formal complaint process; access appropriate medical, emotional, or academic services; discuss possible interim arrangements during the investigation and resolution phases; and answer individuals’ questions along the way. Relay will endeavor to promptly, thoroughly, and impartially investigate and resolve all complaints. Relay reserves the right to determine that there is a more appropriate Relay process for handling a matter and will advise the reporting party of the alternative process.
Relay will attempt to resolve complaints within 60 days of receiving a report; however, that time frame may be adjusted depending on the allegations, parties involved, and time of year.
Reporting Misconduct to Law Enforcement
If individuals have been the victims or targets of sexual assault or other types of gender-based misconduct, they may also contact the police in addition to Relay. Individuals do not have to file a report with the police. If requested, an advisor or representative from Relay will accompany individuals to the local police department to support individuals through the reporting process. Relay can also provide individuals with information about the process of obtaining a judicial order of protection.
In the event the reporting individual makes a report to the police, Relay will continue its own investigation into the alleged conduct, regardless of whether or not the police decide to pursue their own investigation. Relay will cooperate with police investigations and will honor and enforce any judicial no-contact, restraining, or protective orders the parties may obtain outside the Relay process.
To determine whether an act may meet certain criminal definitions in New York State, please see Appendix D.
Gender-based misconduct may constitute a violation of both law and Relay policy. However, the standards for finding a violation of criminal law are different from the standards for finding a violation of this policy. Conduct may constitute gender-based misconduct under Relay policy even if law enforcement agencies lack sufficient evidence of a crime and decline to prosecute.
The filing of a complaint of gender-based misconduct under this policy is independent of any criminal investigation or proceeding. Relay will not wait for the conclusion of any criminal investigation or proceedings to commence its own investigation or take any necessary interim measures to protect the reporting individual and the Relay community. However, Relay may temporarily delay its investigation to enable law enforcement to gather evidence. Such delay should not last longer than 10 days except when law enforcement requests and justifies a longer delay.
Requesting Confidential Participation, That No Investigation Be Conducted, or Withdrawal from Process
If a reporting individual wishes to maintain confidentiality or requests that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted or disciplinary action taken, Relay must weigh that request against the institution’s obligation to provide a safe, nondiscriminatory environment for all members of the Relay community, including the reporting individual.
If Relay honors the request for confidentiality, the reporting individual must understand that Relay’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the respondent may be limited. In some rare instances, it may be possible for Relay to maintain the reporting individual’s confidentiality and still take responsive action, including disciplinary action if appropriate. For example, if any one of a number of individuals experienced or witnessed the conduct, it may be possible for Relay to proceed without revealing the name of the individual who made the report.
When weighing a reporting party’s request for confidentiality or that no investigation or discipline be pursued, the Title IX coordinator will consider a range of factors, including the following:
- The risk that the respondent will commit additional acts of gender-based misconduct or other violence, which may be assessed by evaluating:
- Whether there have been other complaints about the same respondent,
- Whether the respondent has a history of arrests or records from a prior school indicating a history of violence, and/or
- Whether the respondent threatened further sexual violence or other violence against the reporting party or others
- Whether the violence was committed by multiple individuals,
- Whether the sexual violence was perpetrated with a weapon,
- Whether the reporting party is a minor,
- Whether Relay possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence of the prohibited conduct (e.g., security cameras or personnel, physical evidence), and
- Whether the report reveals a pattern of perpetration (e.g., via illicit use of drugs or alcohol) at a given location or by a particular group
If Relay determines that it cannot maintain a victim’s confidentiality, the Title IX coordinator will inform the reporting party prior to starting an investigation and will, to the extent possible, only share information with people responsible for handling Relay’s response and as necessary to conduct a thorough investigation.
Formal Resolution Process
Both the complainant and respondent have the right to be accompanied by an advisor of choice throughout the formal resolution process. The advisor shall be silent during the process, but does have the right to cross-examine the complainant and witnesses. With the exception of the cross-examination, the advisor may communicate only with the advisee during proceedings in a nondisruptive manner. Relay’s investigator and hearing officer have the right at all times to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of an advisor and whether the person may remain at the proceedings. The Title IX coordinator and the hearing officer are to be notified at least 24 hours in advance if either party will be accompanied by an advisor.
Any Relay official (e.g., faculty member, dean) informed of possible discrimination, harassment, or gender-based misconduct must report it to the Title IX coordinator. However, should students prefer to report an incident confidentially, resources outside of Relay are available. Confidential resources are only those listed in Appendix B and in Confidential Advisors.
Pursuant to the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, students enrolled at our Chicago campus are entitled to confidential advisors. Students enrolled at our Chicago campus may contact our community-based sexual assault–crisis partner, Resilience, by calling (773) 907-1062. This is not a crisis hotline. If students are in crisis and in the Chicago area, they should call the Rape Crisis Hotline at (888) 293-2080.
The complainant and respondent will have an equal opportunity to participate in the investigation and subsequent hearing with advisors of their choice, provide statements, submit additional information, and/or identify witnesses who may have relevant information. The respondent will be notified that an investigation is underway, including the date, time, location, and factual allegations regarding the complaint, and will be afforded the opportunity to independently meet with the Title IX coordinator or a designee to review this procedure and to have his/her rights explained. The Title IX coordinator or a designee will counsel both parties on the academic and emotional support services available. Relay will notify the parties in writing prior to any meeting that they are required or eligible to attend.
During an investigation, the Title IX coordinator or an appropriate designee may ask for written statements and other documents or evidence that may aid in the investigation. Therefore, it is important to preserve all evidence associated with the conduct or that individuals think might help others understand what happened. Such evidence can include text messages, social-media posts, photos, voicemails, emails, or items of clothing.
Both parties will be updated throughout the investigation process. At the close of an investigation, the Title IX coordinator or a designee will prepare an investigation report for the designated hearing officer’s review and use in determining responsibility. Both parties will be provided access to the investigation report prior to its delivery to the hearing officer and be given an opportunity to correct inaccuracies that they believe exist. Every reasonable effort will be made to conduct the hearing within 10 business days of the Title IX coordinator’s delivery of the investigation report to the hearing officer.
Relay may also, upon the conclusion of an investigation, determine that there is insufficient evidence to move forward with an adjudication process. In this case, the Title IX coordinator will notify both parties in writing.
During the investigation process, interim measures and/or accommodations will be discussed with the parties and implemented as may be appropriate. Possible interim measures available to individuals participating in this process may include, but are not limited to: academic and/or emotional support, a change in class schedule and/or work arrangements, providing an escort to campus activities, or a voluntary leave of absence.
The parties may request that Relay issue a no-contact order, which prohibits the parties from interacting and restricts one or both party’s access to certain areas of campus. No-contact orders are usually not indefinite and either party may request that the Title IX coordinator or a designee amend or revoke a no-contact order. Intentional and/or repeated violations of a no-contact order are a violation of this policy and may result in additional disciplinary charges and sanctions.
If a party is determined to pose a continuing threat to the health and safety of the community, the party may be subject to an interim suspension from Relay. The Title IX coordinator, in consultation with others as appropriate, will make the determination of whether or not to issue the interim suspension.
Either party may request review of the need for and/or modification of the terms of any interim measure, accommodation, or directive and can submit evidence in support of any such request. Requests for review/modification should be made to the Title IX coordinator. Requests will be handled within five business days, unless circumstances warrant extending that time frame.
In some cases, the Title IX coordinator may determine that mediation could be an appropriate option after conducting an investigation. However, in cases that involve a potential sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence or intimidation, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, mediation is not an appropriate option. Mediation will only be pursued with the consent of both parties. Any informal resolution would require the written agreement of the parties. Either party may stop the mediation process at any time.
Once the investigation is complete, the matter will proceed to the decision-making phase before a hearing officer designated by Relay. The hearing officer will decide whether the accused is responsible, in whole or in part, for the alleged misconduct. Relay will choose the hearing officer based on the parties involved and the nature of the allegations. Relay may designate as a hearing officer an appropriate member of the Relay community or may designate an external adjudicator.
The parties have the right to challenge the choice of hearing officer if the appointment of a specific hearing officer creates a real or perceived conflict of interest. In the event either party challenges the choice of the hearing officer, they must notify the Title IX coordinator in writing within three days of receiving notification of the hearing. The Title IX coordinator shall make a final determination about the selection of the hearing officer.
The parties will be notified in writing of the date, time, and location of the hearing and the possible sanctions upon a finding that the respondent is responsible for all or part of the conduct. Both parties are encouraged to attend the hearing. Should either party decide not to attend the hearing, it will continue in their absence. Arrangements can be made for a party to appear at the hearing by video or audio conference should they feel uncomfortable appearing in person.
At the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present witnesses and testimony. If either party desires to present witnesses, that party must submit a list of potential witnesses to the Title IX coordinator at least two days prior to the hearing. The relevance of the witnesses to the event(s) under investigation will be determined by the hearing officer. Individuals whose identity and knowledge of the events were ascertained as part of the investigation may also be called, at the discretion of the hearing officer. Any written statement or other information provided by a witness will be available for review by both parties at the hearing. The hearing officer and both parties may pose questions to the witnesses during the proceeding if the witnesses are present, but unless all parties and the hearing officer agree otherwise, all questions will be asked by the hearing officer. Advisors may pose reasonable questions to witnesses.
After the hearing, but before the hearing officer delivers his/her written determination of responsibility and sanction, if any, the parties will have the opportunity to submit an impact statement for the hearing officer’s consideration with regard to sanction.
The hearing officer will make a determination whether there has been a violation of Relay policy based on the preponderance of the evidence, which means they will determine whether it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct occurred. The burden of proof will not be solely on any one party. The hearing officer will make a recommendation to the Office of the Provost of Teacher Preparation about an appropriate sanction.
The Title IX coordinator will simultaneously notify the parties of the hearing officer’s determination, including a brief summary of the facts and rationale. Relay will also simultaneously notify the parties of the final decision regarding sanction(s), if applicable, and the rationale for the sanction(s).
Possible sanctions include exclusion from certain Relay buildings, classes, and events; suspension, expulsions, and/or discharge from employment or enrollment. Individuals doing business with Relay or third-party vendors found to be in violation of this policy may be banned from Relay, and Relay will notify their respective employers of all charges and disciplinary outcomes. Visitors may be banned from Relay. Relay may impose other conditions, such as counseling, assessment, or participation in training.
Individuals suspended or expelled for committing an act of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or a “violent crime,” as defined by the Clery Act, will have a numerical notation (04) placed on their transcript as follows. A transcript notation will not be removed prior to one year after conclusion of the suspension. Expulsion notations will not be removed in any case. If a finding of responsibility is vacated for any reason, a corresponding transcript notation will be removed.
If individuals who have been charged with a violation withdraw from Relay while charges are pending and decline to complete the disciplinary process, the following notation will be placed on their transcript: “Withdrew with conduct charges pending.”
Both parties have the right to appeal the outcome of the hearing officer’s determination of responsibility and/or sanction. An appeal is appropriate only in certain circumstances, as follows:
- A party believes a procedural error substantially impacted the original finding or sanction,
- A party has substantial new evidence that was not available during the investigation or hearing and which would substantially impact the original finding or sanction, or
- A party feels that the sanction is substantially outside the scope or guidelines set by Relay policy.
Requests for an appeal must be made in writing, including the grounds for appeal, and must be received by the Title IX coordinator within five business days of receipt of notification of the hearing officer’s decision. If appeals are submitted later than five business days, the requester must explain in their written appeal letter why the appeal action was delayed. It is at the discretion of the Title IX coordinator to accept appeals after the five-business-days deadline.
Appeals of the hearing officer’s decision will be heard by an appeal panel consisting of at least three members of the Relay staff and/or faculty. All appellate decisions are final. The appeal panel may affirm, modify or overrule the determination and/or the sanction in whole or in part, and may refer the matter back to the investigator or hearing officer for further action. Both parties will be informed of the outcome of any appeal.