Administrative policy regarding complaints of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct
(A) Policy Statement. Gender based discrimination, which includes sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, can interfere with a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from university academic and non-academic programs, an employee’s ability to function in the workplace, and a campus visitor’s to ability to utilize the university. The procedure below is intended to afford a prompt, thorough, and impartial response from the university to an allegation of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and/or sexual misconduct.
(B) Eligibility. This administrative policy shall apply to all students, faculty, staff, independent contractors, guests, visitors, applicants, and university recognized student organizations. It shall apply to all incidents occurring on any of the university’s campuses or centers (including international), university events off campus, and any incidents occurring off campus that involve both a student or employee as the alleged victim and a student or employee as the accused.
(1) Gender discrimination. Title VII, Title IX, and Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code prohibit unlawful discrimination on the basis of gender or sex. Both men and women are protected from unlawful discrimination. Unlawful gender discrimination includes, but is not limited to, discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, disability due to pregnancy, and non-conformance to gender stereotypes.
(2) Sexual Harassment. Unfavorable or unwelcome treatment, made without consent and based on a person’s gender or sex, that is severe or pervasive and has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working, academic or university environment. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:
(a) Verbal and/or physical behavior including, but not limited to: sexually explicit jokes, insults, and taunts; obscene gestures; offensive pictorial, written, and electronic communications; and unwelcome touching.
(b) Any of the conduct described in paragraphs (C) (1) to (C)(3) of this rule used by an individual implicitly or explicitly as the basis for employment, administrative, or academic decisions (including submission to or rejection of any such conduct), is considered sexual harassment.
(3) Sexual Misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a form of sexual harassment and is defined as any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by either a man or a woman upon either a man or a woman, that is without consent. This includes, but is not limited to:
(a) Those offenses encompassed by Chapter 2907 of the Revised Code such as rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition, sexual imposition, importuning, voyeurism; and public indecency;
(b) Sexual Exploitation. Taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, if that behavior does not otherwise constitute another sexual misconduct offense. This would include, but not be limited to, videotaping, or allowing an observer unknown to both parties;
(c) Knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection or disease through sexual contact without consent.
(4) Consent. Consent is defined as the voluntary, unambiguous agreement to participate in an act, the nature of which is known to and understood by the consenter. Consent may be given verbally or nonverbally and may be withdrawn at any time before completion of the act.
(a) A person may be incapable of giving consent due to physical incapacitation, physical or mental disability, threat, coercion, the influence of alcohol or drugs, or age.
(5) Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator is the university administrator responsible for overseeing the implementation of Title IX regulations, the enforcement of this policy, and all gender discrimination, gender/sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct investigations. The Title IX coordinator is also the administrator responsible for overseeing the office of affirmative action. Therefore, any claims of gender discrimination, gender/sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct brought by employees will be investigated in accordance with both Title VII and Title IX regulations.
(a) Title IX deputy coordinators. The Title IX coordinator may deputize his/her authority to investigate complaints brought under this policy to deputy coordinators. Deputy coordinators will be trained specifically to investigate such complaints. The Title IX coordinator, as well as the deputy coordinators, may work with other employees in various departments and campuses, (including affirmative action facilitators), in conducting an investigation, but the coordinator and/or deputy coordinator is ultimately responsible for each investigation.
(D) All employees of the university are required to report all instances of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator. All other members of the university community are encouraged to report any gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct that they experience, witness, or are made aware of.
(1) University medical services. If a victim of sexual misconduct informs university medical services, the medical personnel must report to the appropriate law enforcement agency that they know or have reasonable cause to believe there was an offense of sexual misconduct.
(2) University psychological services. If a victim of sexual misconduct seeks the services of any psychological service of the university, the services’ licensed counselors and their unlicensed trainees are not mandated by law to report the sexual misconduct to the appropriate law enforcement agency or to university officials, unless the victim is a minor.
(3) The Ohio Revised Code requires all felony crimes, which include most cases of sexual assault, to be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Due to this law, university employees (with the exclusion of licensed counselors and unlicensed counselor trainees acting in their capacity as such) are required to report to the appropriate law enforcement agency information brought to their attention concerning occurrences of sexual misconduct.
(4) University departments may create individual reporting structures to facilitate prompt reporting and adequate response; however, all reports must ultimately be provided to the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators as quickly as possible. Any such departmental reporting structure must be documented and publicized within the department, as well as shared with the Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinators.
(E) Implementation and remediation.
(1) All reports of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct must be investigated by the Title IX coordinator/deputy coordinators. This administrative investigation is separate from any other investigations, including investigations by law enforcement.
(2) The university will keep all information pertaining to the investigation as confidential as possible. If the complainant requests that his/her information not be shared with the accused, the university will honor such a request in so far as is compliant with the law. However, such a request may limit the extent to which the university is able to investigate and respond to the complaint. If the complainant wishes to file a formal complaint with the university, the complainant’s name and any written statements submitted will be disclosed to the accused. If the university determines that the safety of the community is at risk, certain confidential information may need to be shared in order to protect the university community.
(3) As described above, some complaints will require reporting to the appropriate law enforcement agency. There are times when the law enforcement agency may investigate the same complaint as the university. The law enforcement agency may ask the university to suspend its investigation while they commence their investigation. If this occurs, the university will inform the complainant when the investigation is suspended, and when it resumes. At all times, a complainant has a right to independently file a complaint with any applicable law enforcement agency or outside enforcement agency. Such agencies include, but are not limited to, the Ohio civil rights commission (employees) within one hundred eighty (180) days, the equal employment opportunity commission (employees) within three hundred (300) days, and the department of education, office of civil rights (employees and students) within one hundred eighty (180) days. The timeline is based on the alleged act or the discovery of the alleged act. However, it is recommended that the complainant first exhaust the internal complaint procedures.
(4) Amnesty. All students are expected to report sexual harassment or sexual assault. If a student who reports or who serves as a witness for such an incident is also in violation of another policy (such as a drug or alcohol offense) in conjunction with the incident, amnesty will be considered by the student conduct office, and granted at their discretion, depending on the nature of the offense.
(F) Investigation process
(1) Informal Investigation. Once the university is made aware of the alleged violation, an informal investigation will begin and remedial measures may be taken to limit the effects of the alleged harassment or misconduct and prevent its occurrence. If the alleged victim is known and willing to participate, they will be made aware of any remedial measures available to them through the university, law enforcement, and community assistance such as medical and counseling services.
(a) Mediation. In cases of gender discrimination or sexual harassment, (but not sexual misconduct), an informal mediation of the parties may be arranged, with permission of both parties, by the Title IX coordinator/deputy coordinator. During such a mediation, the parties will meet with an impartial mediator to discuss the alleged discrimination or harassment. The expectation of such a mediation is that both parties will attempt to come to an equitable resolution of the situation. Participation in mediation is completely voluntary by both parties, and consent to participate may be withdrawn at any time. Participation in a mediation does not begin a formal investigation by the university, but the alleged victim may request a formal investigation at any time. A successful mediation will result in a signed agreement between the parties, and the matter will be considered resolved. A completed mediation, with an agreement signed by both parties, will close the university’s investigation, and the matter will be considered resolved.
(2) Formal investigation. Generally, the alleged victim’s express consent will be requested to conduct a formal investigation. Such consent must be provided in writing. In cases of perceived threat to the university community, the alleged victim’s consent will not be required to conduct a formal investigation.
(a) Once a complainant gives the university consent to formally investigate, the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator will investigate the complaint. This investigation may involve interviews with the complainant, accused, and possible witnesses, as well as information collection. Both the complainant and accused will be notified of the opening of the formal investigation. Both the complainant and accused may bring a person of their choosing to accompany them through the interview process. This person may attend the interviews, but may not participate.
(b) A formal investigation will be completed within thirty days after a formal complaint with consent to investigate is submitted to the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator. If more time is required to complete the investigation, the complainant will be notified of such in writing.
(c) When the formal investigation is complete, the findings will be shared in writing with both the complainant and the accused.
(i) If the accused is a student, the findings of the investigation may be shared verbally at a student conduct hearing if student conduct charges are pursued for the alleged incident. The investigator may also be present during the hearing to answer any questions about his/her findings. The results of the hearing will be shared in writing with both the complainant and accused within five (5) days. These results are to be considered the written findings of the investigation. The investigation is then closed.
(ii) If the accused is a university employee or university department, a summary of the report will be shared with the appropriate supervisory area to ensure that the university responds appropriately. A decision will be made and shared with the complainant and accused, in writing, within 5 business days of the completion of the investigation.
(iii) If the accused is not a current student, current employee, or university department, a determination proceeding will be held, with possible sanctions pursuant to rule 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code. A decision will be made and shared with the complainant and accused, in writing, within 5 business days of the completion of the proceeding.
(3) If at any time during or after the completion of the investigation the investigator finds that the university was not acting in accordance with its policies or procedures, or that its policies or procedures need to be revised to prevent the occurrence of discrimination, steps will be taken to remedy this in a prompt fashion.
(4) Student conduct. If the accused is a student, the alleged victim may pursue charges through student conduct at any time during the informal or formal investigation process. This process is contained in rules 3342-4-02, 3342-4-02.1, and 3342-4-02.101 of this Administrative Code.
(a) Upon request, the complainant may be provided with a logistical accommodation to participate outside of the hearing room during the proceeding.
(b) The complainant and accused will be given equal and timely access to information that will be considered by the hearing panel in making its decision.
(c) Both the complainant and accused may bring a person of their choosing to accompany them through the disciplinary process. This person may attend the hearing, but may not participate.
(d) Both the complainant and accused may bring witnesses to provide information during the hearing. If a formal investigation has been completed by the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator, the results of that investigation will be shared verbally at the hearing. Both parties, as well as the hearing panel, will be able to ask questions of the investigator to clarify the investigation and its results.
(e) The hearing panel will use a preponderance of the evidence standard in making its determination (i.e. it is more likely than not that the offense occurred, based on the evidence presented.)
(f) The outcome of the hearing, including sanctions if an accused student is found responsible, will be provided in writing to both the accused student and the complainant.
(g) Sanctions may include, but are not limited to: warning, probation, campus access restrictions, counseling referral, reflection assignment, monetary penalty (two hundred dollars maximum), no contact order, suspension, dismissal, or other as deemed appropriate.
(5) Appeals process.
(a) If the accused is a student, and a student conduct hearing has been held, the decision may be appealed within seven (7) days by either the complainant or the accused in accordance with the student conduct appeals procedure contained in rules 3342-4-02, 3342-4-02.1, and 3342-4-02.101 of the Administrative Code.
(b) If the accused is a university employee or university department, the results of the investigation may be appealed within five (5) business days to the Title IX coordinator if the investigation was conducted by a deputy coordinator, or the vice president of human resources if the investigation was conducted by the coordinator. A decision regarding the appeal will be provided in writing to the complainant and accused within thirty days after the appeal is requested.
(c) If the accused is not a current student, current employee, or university department, a request for review of the determination proceeding decision may be made to the chief student affairs officer in accordance with rule 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code. A final decision will be made and shared with the complainant and accused, in writing, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the request for review.
(6) Retaliation. Kent state university prohibits retaliation against any individual who makes a complaint of unlawful harassment, pursuant to rule 3342-5-16 of this Administrative Code.
(7) Complaints are to be made in good faith. If the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator determines that a complainant knowingly falsely accused another of harassment or assault, appropriate sanctions will be recommended against the complainant if he/she is an employee. If the complainant is a student or visitor, charges may be pursued through student conduct.
Effective: June 5, 2012
Prior Effective Dates: