When OSMRC receives a report, we reach out to the reporting party offering to meet to provide linkage with a confidential resource, facilitate accommodations, and review reporting and complaint options. As much as possible, we strive to put control over the decision to make a complaint in the hands of the reporting party; however, there are certain circumstances in which the university has an obligation to move forward with an investigation in order to maintain a safe campus environment. The reporting party will always be told if this happens, and it is always the reporting party’s choice to participate in an investigation.

Reports not moving forward: In the absence of an investigation, OSMRC works with the reporting party to explore their options. Sanctions are not imposed on the respondent unless an investigation has found evidence of a policy violation. However, there may be options to pursue environmental remedies that will help put an end to the unwelcome behavior in the absence of an investigation. Accommodations can be facilitated without making a complaint. A reporting party has the option to change their mind at any point; there is no time limit to making a university policy complaint.

Informal resolutions: An informal resolution may be an option in cases in which the respondent is a university employee. The purpose of an informal resolution is to stop the unwelcome behavior from recurring. Resolution may take many forms, including direct communication with the respondent, changes to the work or education environment, or group education of the whole work unit. The reporting party’s wishes concerning notifying the respondent are taken into account. Informal resolutions are facilitated by the senior human resources representative or associate dean of the department where the behavior occurred, or by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

Investigations: Complaints involving student respondents are investigated by the Office of the Dean of Students, and complaints involving employee respondents are investigated by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. OSMRC is not an investigating office. Interim sanctions may be imposed on the respondent during the investigation if there is a concern related to safety or an ongoing threat of disruption to the academic process. The Anti-Retaliation Policy applies in both student conduct and employee conduct investigations.

The purpose of an investigation is to determine whether it is more likely than not that a university policy was violated. University administrative investigations are separate from law enforcement investigations, which may be pursued concurrently or not at all.

Additional information can be found in the appendix.

 

Graph showing outcomes of reports received in 2018

Many reports received by OSMRC do not ultimately result in a university administrative investigation. A response coordinator from OSMRC may still work with the people involved in these reports to provide linkage to a confidential resource, facilitate accommodations, and provide information about complaint options for the future.

There is always the potential that publishing information about reports not moving forward may lead to the unintended consequence of blame being directed at the reporting party. It is always the choice of the reporting party to participate in an investigation. Research has repeatedly found that victims/survivors of sexual assault choose not to report out of feelings of self-blame, not wanting other involved, and minimizing the seriousness of the assault. When explaining administrative complaint options, OSMRC regularly describes interim sanctions and the Anti-Retaliation Policy.

 

Investigation length

During an investigation, OSMRC provides regular process updates to the reporting party and respondent. We work with the investigating offices to track the length of investigations and help parties understand the anticipated length of an investigation. In 2018, 45 reports led to an investigation. At the time of publication, three investigations were still open.  For the remaining 42 investigations, the length of time between the start of an investigation (the date the reporting party indicated they would like to make a complaint) and the distribution of the investigator’s report was:

Investigation length  
Total number of resolved investigations 42
Average investigation length 109 calendar days
Median investigation length 102 calendar days

 

The length of an investigation can be affected by a number of factors. For example, investigations tend to take longer if multiple witnesses need to be interviewed or if one or more parties wishes to involve legal representation. The length of investigations can also be affected by university breaks, when fewer student are available to participate.

 

Appeals

An appeal may be based on the grounds that the decision was unsupported by substantial evidence when viewed as a whole; the decision was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, or constituted an abuse of discretion; the sanction was unreasonably harsh or lenient in light of the circumstances; the procedures were not properly followed, resulting in prejudice to the appealing party; or new evidence, not reasonably available at the time of hearing, warrants reconsideration. The appeal process is conducted in writing. The non-appealing party is given the option to respond to the appeal.

Appeals  
Total number of resolved investigations 42
Number of findings appealed 8
Average appeal length 29 calendar days
Median appeal length 29 calendar days
Decisions overturned on appeal 0
Decisions/sanctions modified on appeal 2

 

In 2018, 45 reports led to an investigation.  At the time of this publication, three investigations were still open.  Of the remaining 42 investigations, 8 were appealed by one or both parties. The length of time between the start of an appeal (the date the notice of appeal was distributed) and the distribution of the appeal officer’s decision had an average length of 29 days and a median length of 29 days. In 2018, no decisions were overturned on appeal. One appeal led to a modified decision and sanctions, and one appeal led to modified sanctions.

 

Sanctions

Campus actions resulting from adjudication of complaints can include sanctions against the person found responsible, remedies for the individual or individuals harmed, one-on-one or targeted group education, or implementation of specific security measures.

There are protocols in place to ensure that intentional and appropriate outcomes, including sanctions, are imposed. When a policy violation has been determined, in either student conduct or employee conduct cases, the decision maker (the Dean of Students, the respondent’s supervisor, or the Provost) must receive sanctioning input from the investigator and the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator.  The Student Judicial Procedure allows for a victim impact statement to be provided to the decision maker before sanctions are imposed.  Ongoing professional development is provided to decision makers.  Outcomes are tracked to ensure fair and consistent institutional response and to decrease the effect of implicit bias. 

The Anti-Violence Coalition continues to engage the campus community in conversation about appropriate sanctions which assists in our ongoing review of the sexual assault sanctioning guidelines established in 2014. We must ensure that there are no unintended side effects, such as hindrance to reporting or judicial administrators wanting to adjust a finding of responsibility in order to issue or avoid a specific sanction.

Definitions of sanctions can be found in the appendix.

Outcomes from 7 sexual assault policy violations:

  • 25 disciplinary/safety measures
  • 8 educational/counseling requirements
  • 3 suspensions

Outcomes from 3 sexual harassment policy violations:

  • 3 disciplinary/safety measures
  • 1 educational/counseling requirement
  • 2 separations

Outcomes from 1 dating/domestic violence policy violation:

  • 3 disciplinary/safety measures
  • 2 educational/counseling requirements

Outcomes from 1 sexual exploitation policy violation:

  • 2 disciplinary/safety measures
  • 1 educational/counseling requirement

Outcomes from 8 cases involving policy violations for multiple incident types:

  • 21 disciplinary/safety measures
  • 9 educational/counseling requirements
  • 3 suspensions