Policy PRES-AA-002

logo of The University of Southern Mississippi 
Responsible University Administrator:President
Responsible Officer:Title IX Coordinator
Origination Date:03/18/13
Current Revision Date:05/02/18
Next Review Date:05/02/22
End of Policy Date:NA
Policy Number:PRES-AA-002
Status:Effective

 

PROCEDURES FOR THE RESOLUTION OF ALLEGATIONS

OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT


 


Policy Statement


The University of Southern Mississippi prohibits sexual misconduct in any form, including sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and intimate partner violence. This Procedure sets forth the University’s obligations and methods for responding to reports of sexual misconduct incidents described in the Sexual Misconduct Policy. 

 

Statement of Non-Discrimination

The University of Southern Mississippi does not discriminate in its educational programs or activities, employment, and admission on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, sex or gender (including pregnancy, sexual harassment, and other forms of sexual misconduct), gender identity or gender expression, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, genetic information, or any other status protected under applicable federal, state, or local law. The University of Southern Mississippi also prohibits retaliation directed to any person who pursues a formal complaint, participates in an investigation, or otherwise opposes unlawful discrimination.

The University will investigate formal complaints of sex or gender discrimination and sexual misconduct in accordance with the University’s policies and procedures. When such misconduct occurs, the university will take steps to stop, prevent recurrence, and remedy the impacts of such behavior. For more information or for inquiries concerning any such complaints or the application of Title IX, contact the University’s designated Title IX Coordinator listed below:

Rebecca Malley, Ph.D.
Title IX Coordinator
Hattiesburg Campus
118 College Drive # 5079
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
Telephone: 601.266.6804 Rebecca.malley@usm.edu

 

For more information or for inquiries concerning discrimination, such as age, disability, religion, race, color, national origin, genetic information, pregnancy, and military or veteran status, contact the University’s designated Director of the Office of Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity listed below:

Director of Affirmative Action & Equal Employment Opportunity
McLemore Hall 310, Hattiesburg Campus
118 College Dr. #5168
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
Telephone: 601.266.6618

 

You may also contact the following offices for more information or to file a complaint:

Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620
Dallas, TX 75201-6810
Telephone: 214.661.9600
Fax: 214.661.9587;
TDD: 800.877.8339 Email: OCR.Dallas@ed.gov

 

Or

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Dr. A.H. McCoy Federal Building
100 West Capitol Street, Suite 338
Jackson, MS 39269
Telephone: 800.669.4000
Fax: 601.948.8401
TTY: 800.669.6820 
 
 

Purpose


The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to fostering and maintaining a safe and healthy academic, work, and living environment in which no member of the University community is discriminated against on the basis of sex, gender or gender identity, and sexual orientation in any University program or activity. Sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination and is inconsistent with the standards and ideals of our community. Additionally, federal law prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  This procedure implements the University’s commitment to comply with federal and state legal mandates and University policies in relation to such discrimination. 

 


Who Needs to Know This Policy


All members of The University of Southern Mississippi community. The University community includes students, staff, faculty, alumni, and third-party vendors. 

 


Website Address for this Policy


usm.edu/institutional-policies/policy-pres-aa-002

www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct


Definitions


Duty to ReportApplies to all employees, who are obligated to report all incidents in violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, either personally observed or disclosed, to the Title IX Coordinator. 
EmployeeAny person employed by The University of Southern Mississippi including staff, faculty, and administrative personnel. 
Formal Resolution Resolution of a complaint by the Sexual Misconduct Investigative Panel. 
Informal ResolutionResolution of a complaint by the Title IX Coordinator or designee. 
Process Advisor An individual assigned to advise the Reporting and Responding Parties during the formal investigative hearing. Process advisors serve in an advisory capacity only and do not participate in the formal investigative hearing. 
Reporting Party An individual who alleges a violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. 
Responding Party An individual who is alleged to have violated the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. 
Responsible Employees All University employees are responsible employees and have a duty to report. Responsible employees must promptly report incidents of sexual misconduct if they become aware or suspect an incident occurring (within 24 hours/next business day), and must include personally identifying information and all related details pertaining to the incident when making a report. 
Support Person An individual selected by a Reporting Party or a Responding Party to accompany them and offer support throughout the Title IX process. 
StudentA person enrolled at the University, either full-time or part-time, or a person seeking admission to or accepted to the University for admission. 
Third Party This includes vendors, visitors, and workers who are contracted/employed by the University.

Policy/Procedures


1.0       TITLE IX COORDINATOR

The President has appointed a Title IX Coordinator for the University, who is identified above and listed on the Sexual Misconduct website www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator’s duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

 

1.1       Oversight of policies and procedures that apply to complaints or reports of sexual misconduct and sex discrimination including sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape, and other forms of nonconsensual sexual conduct including the offenses of intimate partner violence, and stalking by employees, students, or third parties;

 

1.2       Informing victims of alleged sexual misconduct of the right to file a formal complaint or to seek informal resolution and the process for each;

 

1.3       Informing those accused of sexual misconduct of the right to file a response to a formal complaint or to participate in informal resolution, if offered, and the process for each;

 

1.4       Appointment of deputy Title IX Coordinators as needed to assist in Title IX responsibilities; 

 

1.5       Designation and appointment of employees to serve as members of the University Sexual Misconduct Investigative Team (SMIT);

 

1.6       Supervision of the training and functional operation of SMIT members, which includes their investigation of sexual misconduct complaints and reports;

 

1.7       Providing and/or facilitating such training for the University community as is required to comply with the mandates of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, and federal and state law;

 

1.8       Making initial assessments of all sexual misconduct claims to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe there has been a violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy to invoke the processes of this Procedure;

 

1.9       Facilitation of informal resolution proceedings in appropriate circumstances; and

 

1.10     Facilitate periodic campus climate checks to assess the effectiveness of efforts to ensure that the University is free from sexual misconduct.

 

 

2.0       SEXUAL MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATIVE TEAM (SMIT)

 

The Sexual Misconduct Investigative Team consists of employees of the University who represent the various segments of the University, including staff, faculty and campuses. Members shall receive specific training related to their responsibilities as investigators of complaints or reports of sexual misconduct and shall be assigned to investigations on a rotating basis by the Title IX Coordinator.

 

3.0       REPORTING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT/AMNESTY

 

3.1       Complaints may be made in writing by completing the Sexual Misconduct and Retaliation Online Complaint Form. This form is  available on The University’s sexual misconduct website (www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct).  Reports can also be made directly to the Title IX Coordinator. Please refer to The University’s sexual misconduct website listed above for the office location.

 

3.2       An alleged victim does not have to decide whether or not to request any specific action by the University at the time the report is made, nor is there a time limit on reporting. The University is committed to supporting the rights of a person reporting an allegation of sexual misconduct to make an informed choice among options and services available.

 

3.3       While an investigation may begin on the basis of an oral complaint or report, the alleged victim is strongly encouraged to file a written complaint.  Alleged victims are urged to submit a written and signed complaint setting out the details of the conduct which is the subject of the complaint, including the alleged victim’s name,  and contact information; the name of the person directly responsible for the alleged violation; a detailed description of the conduct or event that is the basis of the alleged violation; the date(s) and location(s) of the occurrence(s); the names of any witness(es) to the occurrence(s); the resolution sought; and any documents or information that are relevant to the complaint.

 

3.4       Persons who have been victims of either sexual assault or sexual violence are encouraged to immediately contact the University Police Department (UPD) in Hattiesburg at 601-266-4986 or by dialing 911 and seeking immediate medical attention even if they do not wish to pursue criminal charges or otherwise pursue a complaint against their attacker.  Contact the UPD at 228-214-3501 or 228-234-2068 on the Gulf Park Campus or the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Individuals located at the Stennis Space Center should contact Protective Services at 228-688-3437. [External links to inside and outside resources can be found in Appendix A or on the sexual misconduct website, www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct.]

 

3.5       Anonymous Reporting: Although the University encourages an alleged victim to talk with someone directly, the University does provide an anonymous phone reporting option within the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico and Canada by dialing toll free 877-310-0424 and an anonymous on-line reporting option located here:  https://www.usm.edu/compliance-ethics. Anonymous reports can also be filed through the University’s CARES (Campus Action Referral and Evaluation System) Program by visiting the Division of Student Affairs main website: https://www.usm.edu/student-affairs. These reports will trigger an inquiry or investigation. However, the University’s ability to respond effectively may be limited by the level of information provided and/or the anonymity of the complaint. All anonymous reports will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or UPD.

 

3.6       Exception for Public Disclosures and Certain Research-Based Disclosures:
Disclosures in the following categories shall not be considered notice of sexual misconduct to the University for purposes of triggering its obligation to investigate any particular incident (s):

3.6.1    Public Disclosures:  Disclosures of incidents of alleged sexual misconduct during or in connection with public awareness events such as “Take Back the Night,” candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak outs,” or other forums. Although such disclosures do not constitute notice of sexual misconduct to the University for purposes of triggering its obligation to investigate any particular incident(s), such disclosures may inform the need for campus-wide education and prevention efforts.      

3.6.2    Certain Research-Based Disclosures:  Disclosures of incidents of alleged Sexual Misconduct made by a University community member during such member’s participation as a participant in an Institutional Review Board-approved human subjects research protocol. Institutional Review Boards may, in appropriate cases, require researchers to provide information to all participants of a study about Title IX rights and about available University and community resources and support services.

           

3.7       AMNESTY

 

3.7.1    Amnesty: The health and safety of every University community member at The University of Southern Mississippi is of the utmost importance. The University recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time a sexual misconduct incident occurs may be hesitant to report such incident due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. The University strongly encourages students to report incidents of sexual misconduct to campus officials. A bystander reporting in good faith or an alleged victim reporting sexual misconduct to University officials or law enforcement will not be subject to campus conduct action for violations of alcohol and/or drug policies occurring at or near the time of the sexual misconduct.

 

 

4.0       CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY CONSIDERATIONS

 

4.1       Confidential Resources: The University encourages every student or employee who has experienced sex discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other forms of sexual misconduct to talk with someone and report the incident. This facilitates an appropriate University response and ensures that the person receives care and support.  Recognizing that it may be difficult for a person to come forward after such an event, the purpose of this section is to provide information about reporting options, so individuals may make an informed decision about where to turn for support and assistance.

 

4.2       Employees’ ability to maintain confidentiality at this university differs based on their role and responsibilities on campus:

 

4.2.1    Confidential Resources: Some employees are required to maintain near complete confidentiality; talking to them is sometimes called a “privileged communication.” (See section 4.3)

 

4.2.2    Responsible Employees: Employees not designated as confidential resources are required to report all the details of an incident (including the identities of both the alleged victim and alleged accused) to the Title IX coordinator. A report to these employees (called “responsible employees”) constitutes a report to the University—and generally obligates the University to investigate the incident and take appropriate steps to address the situation. (See section 4.4)

 

4.3       Confidential Reporting:

Some university employees are confidential resources. These individuals are not required to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the University. If a Reporting Party would like the incident to be kept confidential, the Reporting Party may speak with the following confidential resources:

  • On-campus licensed professional counselors and staff
  • On-campus health service providers and staff
  • On-campus members of the clergy, chaplains, priests, and pastors working within the scope of their licensure or ordination.
  • On-campus victim advocates
  • Off-campus (non-employees)
    • Licensed professional counselors
    • Local rape crisis counselors
    • Domestic violence resources
    • Local or state assistance agencies
    • Clergy/Chaplains

 

4.3.1    While employees not designated as responsible employees may maintain a person’s request for confidentiality, in special circumstances, they may have reporting or other obligations under state law, such as mandatory reporting to law enforcement when a communication reveals the contemplation of a crime or harmful act, or intent to commit suicide, and the requirement to testify if subpoenaed in a criminal case.  See Miss. Code Ann. § 73-30-17.

 

4.4       Responsible Employees:

Unless designated as a confidential resource, all other University employees, both faculty and professional staff, are responsible employees. A “responsible employee” is a University employee who is required to share all known details (names, dates, times, locations, witnesses etc.) of incidents or suspected incidents of sexual misconduct and gender-based discrimination with the Title IX Coordinator. When an alleged victim tells a responsible employee about an incident of sexual misconduct, the University will take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate what happened to resolve the matter promptly and equitably, and prevent its recurrence.  Examples of responsible employees include all:

  • Administrators
  • Faculty
  • Supervisory Staff
  • Residential Life Staff
  • Teaching Assistants/Graduate Assistants
  • Any USM employee whom an individual could reasonably believe has the duty to report incidents of sexual misconduct

 

4.4.1    Before an alleged victim reveals any information to a responsible employee, the employee should ensure that an alleged victim understands the employee’s reporting obligations – and, if an alleged victim wants to maintain confidentiality, direct them to confidential resources. If an alleged victim wants to tell the responsible employee what happened but also maintain confidentiality, the employee should inform them that the University will consider the request, but cannot guarantee that the University will be able to honor it.

 

4.4.2    Reporting to a responsible employee still affords privacy to the reporter/alleged victim, and only those University officials who need to know will be told. A responsible employee should not share information with law enforcement without an alleged victim’s consent or unless an alleged victim has also reported the alleged incident to law enforcement.

 

4.4.3    Although a report to a responsible employee triggers an inquiry or investigation, the alleged victim making the report, hereafter referred to as the Reporting Party, is not required to participate in the investigation process in order for the University to continue its investigation.

 

4.5       Under the Clery Act, universities are required to maintain statistics of serious crimes reported on and near campus, including incidents reported under this Policy. The University is required under this Act to appoint Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) for reporting purposes.

 

4.5.1    Accordingly, CSA’s are responsible employees and must complete a CSA report, upon receiving notice of an incident of sexual misconduct. CSA’s may have additional responsibilities under the Clery Act.

 

4.6       Timely Warnings and Emergency Notifications

 

4.6.1    Parties reporting sexual misconduct should be aware that under the Clery Act, the University must issue timely warnings and emergency notifications for incidents reported to them that pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the university community on any campus location. The University will ensure that an alleged victim’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for university community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger. As appropriate, timely warnings and/or emergency notifications may be targeted at only a segment or segments of the campus community that is at risk.

 

4.6.2    An immediate notification for a confirmed emergency or dangerous situation may not be issued if doing so will compromise efforts to: assist an alleged victim, contain the emergency, respond to the emergency, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.

 

 

5.0       REQUESTING CONFIDENTIALITY: HOW THE UNIVERSITY WILL WEIGH THE REQUEST AND RESPOND

 

5.1       A Reporting Party may report an incident of sexual assault, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or other forms of sexual misconduct to a responsible employee but request confidentiality or that no investigation be conducted or disciplinary action taken.  In that case, the University must weigh the request against its obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for the University community, including the Reporting Party.

 

5.1.1    If the Reporting Party requests confidentiality, the University will take immediate action as necessary to protect and assist the Reporting Party. While confidentiality will be maintained to the extent permitted in the course of the investigation, no disciplinary actions can be taken against the accused individual, hereinafter referred to as the Responding Party, unless the person bringing the complaint consents to be identified to the accused individual. Title IX protections for the Reporting Party and equitable due process for the accused individual will be paramount throughout the investigative process. 

 

5.1.2    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. The presence of one or more of these factors could lead the University to investigate and, if appropriate, pursue disciplinary action and/or contact law enforcement. If none of these factors are present, the University will likely respect the Reporting Party’s request for confidentiality. These range of factors include the following:

 

  • The increased risk that the Responding Party will commit additional acts of sexual or other violence, such as:
    • Whether there have been other sexual violence complaints about the same individual
    • Whether the individual has a history of arrests or records from a prior school indicating a history of violence

 

5.1.3    If the University honors the request for confidentiality, the Reporting Party should understand that the University’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the Responding Party may be limited.

 

5.2       If the University determines that it cannot maintain a Reporting Party’s confidentiality, the University will inform the individual prior to starting an investigation and will, to the extent possible, only share information with persons responsible for handling the University’s response to the report of sexual misconduct.

 

5.3       Whether a report is confidential or not, when a Reporting Party reports an allegation of sexual misconduct, the University will remain ever mindful of the well-being of the Reporting Party. The University will respond to any allegation from the Reporting Party of retaliation. The University will also support the Reporting Party and take any needed action to protect and assist them consistent with the Reporting Party’s wishes. A variety of interim measures are available to the Reporting Party as outlined in Section 6.0 of this procedure. The Title IX Coordinator is available to assist the Reporting Party in determining what measures are helpful or needed and will manage the implementation of such interim measures.

 

5.5       Privacy Considerations: In the event that the Title IX Coordinator determines confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, the University is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in a report of sexual assault, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or other forms of sexual misconduct. Information related to a report to the University of such misconduct will be kept private by the University unless disclosure is required by law.  Thus, it will be shared only with those persons with a legitimate interest in order to assist in the investigation and/or in the resolution of the complaint. Under no circumstances will the University release the name of the Reporting Party to the general public without the Reporting Party’s expressed consent.

 

 

6.0       IMMEDIATE ACTIONS BY UNIVERSITY

 

6.1       The Title IX Coordinator, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students Office, and the University Police Department, working in coordination with other necessary University Administrators, may take immediate interim actions prior to resolution of an allegation. In addition, depending on a Reporting Party’s allegations or circumstances of a case these interim measures may also be necessary to protect the safety of the University community. These measures may change over time and the University will make every effort to avoid depriving any student of their education. Such actions are designed to enable students or employees with complaints, and witnesses, to continue studies or duties of employment, and to ensure the integrity of an investigation.  The Title IX Coordinator will communicate regularly with the parties to ensure interim measures remain necessary and effective.

 

These actions may include:

  • Interim suspension of a Responding Party student or employee
  • Emotional support/counseling services
  • No-contact/No Trespass/Proximity orders
  • Escorts to ensure safe movement on campus
  • Modifying class or work schedules as necessary
  • Making alternative housing, workplace or transportation arrangements
    • Addressing other academic or workplace concerns (e.g., assignments, grades, leaves of absence, and withdrawal)
    • Involving law enforcement to assist in maintaining order or safety
    • Any other appropriate action warranted by the circumstances

 

6.2       Violations of these protective actions will constitute related offenses which may lead to additional disciplinary action.

 

 

7.0       RESOURCES AND SERVICES

Campus and community services are available, even if University or criminal reports are not made.  The University strongly encourages anyone who believes they have been the victim of sexual misconduct to seek assistance and care through confidential crisis intervention, healthcare, and counseling.  Individuals should keep in mind that medical examinations are time-sensitive and are critical in preserving evidence of sexual assault so that options can be considered at a later time.  For a list of available services, visit the sexual misconduct site at www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct or Appendix A.

 

 

8.0       TIMELINE FOR PROCESS

 

8.1       Generally, complaints of sexual misconduct will be investigated and fully decided within sixty (60) business days (i.e. days when the University is open) of the date that the Title IX Coordinator is notified of the complaint, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as uncooperative witnesses, break periods, and periods when the University is closed.

 

8.2       The University has an obligation to investigate complaints or reports of sexual misconduct regardless of whether or not law enforcement is conducting a separate criminal investigation.  However, the Title IX Coordinator will comply with law enforcement requests for cooperation.  This may require the Title IX Coordinator to temporarily suspend the fact-finding aspect of the Title IX investigation while law enforcement is in the process of gathering evidence.  The University will promptly resume its investigation as soon as the Title IX Coordinator is notified by the law enforcement agency that it has completed the evidence gathering process, which typically takes between three (3) to ten (10) calendar days, although the delay in the University’s investigation may be longer in certain instances.

 

9.0       PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

 

Upon receiving a complaint or report of sexual misconduct, The Title IX Coordinator will make an initial assessment of the complaint to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy was violated. If the Title IX Coordinator determines there is reasonable cause, the Title IX Coordinator will proceed with a formal investigation or an informal resolution.

 

9.1       The preliminary investigation will be initiated, conducted, and completed generally within five (5) business days from the date the complaint or report is received by the Title IX Coordinator.

 

9.2       If the Title IX Coordinator finds (a) that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the facts in the complaint or the report constitute a violation of the University’s sexual misconduct policy; or (b) the complaint fails to allege facts that suggest sexual misconduct; or (c) the appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved, the Coordinator shall close the investigation and notify the Reporting Party of the findings and that the matter is closed within two (2) business days.

 

9.3       If the Title IX Coordinator determines there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy has occurred, a formal investigation or an attempt at informal resolution will be initiated within two (2) business days.

 

10.0     FIRST MEETING WITH REPORTING AND RESPONDING PARTIES

 

10.1     After receiving a report of sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the Reporting Party to arrange a meeting in person. After meeting with the Reporting Party, and determining there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy has occurred, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice to the Responding Party of the allegations and arrange a meeting in person to review the complaint. Both parties will be informed of their option to have a support person accompany them to any meeting or interview related to the Title IX resolution process. During the first meeting the Title IX Coordinator will:

 

  • Discuss the nature of the complaint;
  • Inform both parties of their rights;
  • Explain the prohibition against retaliation;
  • Explain the process for informal resolution;
  • Explain the process for investigating complaints and appeal rights;
  • Explain the availability of interim measures and campus resources;
  • Provide a copy of the University’s policy and procedures;
  • Discuss evidence/documentation and the importance of maintaining any evidence for investigation; and
  • Discuss support persons and advisors throughout the resolution process.

 

10.2     After reviewing the complaint and meeting with the Title IX Coordinator, the Responding Party may choose to end the complaint resolution process by accepting responsibility for the conduct alleged in the complaint. If the Responding Party accepts full responsibility for the conduct alleged in the complaint, the Responding Party will sign a Waiver of Rights Form. By signing this form, the Responding Party waives their right to a formal investigative hearing. The Title IX Coordinator will forward the complaint to the appropriate Sanctioning Official. If the Responding Party disputes any part of the allegations outlined in the complaint, the matter will proceed to a formal investigative hearing. At any point in the process, the Responding Party may accept responsibility for the conduct alleged in the complaint. In such cases, the appropriate Sanctioning Official (discussed in Section 14.0) will impose sanctions for violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

 

11.0     INFORMAL RESOLUTION OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT COMPLAINTS

 

11.1     Employees, students, or third party workers on campus who believe they have experienced sexual misconduct may have the option of proceeding using an informal resolution process.

 

11.2     The informal resolution process/mediation is not an option for cases of sexual assault, violent behavior of any kind, and those cases involving a student complaining of sexual harassment against an employee in a position of authority over the student. In cases involving allegations of sexual assault or violence, the informal process/mediation is not appropriate even on a voluntary basis by the Reporting Party. The formal resolution process is an available option for sexual misconduct or sex discrimination of any nature.

 

11.3     A Reporting Party who chooses to proceed informally should notify and inform the Title IX Coordinator of a decision to proceed informally, when filing a report of sexual misconduct (or as soon as possible after making the report). 

 

11.3.1  Resolution at the informal level will be facilitated by the Title IX Coordinator, or a designee, and will include a written, signed agreement in which the parties involved agree to the resolution including any outcome imposed. Typically, an informal resolution will be completed and resolved within five (5) to ten (10) business days. Either party may stop participation in the informal resolution process and may request a formal investigation at any time prior to the execution of the written, signed informal resolution agreement.  Examples of informal resolution outcomes include, but are not limited to: a behavioral contract between parties, referrals to counseling programs, conducting educational training, and mediation.

 

11.3.2  To the extent the parties are able to achieve a satisfactory resolution of the complaint through the informal resolution process, the complaint will be considered resolved.  Since both parties will have agreed to the resolution, there is no appeal allowed after an informal resolution.

 

11.3.3   In those cases in which a mutually satisfactory informal resolution cannot be achieved or in those cases in which a party did not comply with the mandates of the informal resolution, the formal resolution process will commence.

 

12.0      PARTICIPATION OF SUPPORT PERSONS AND PROCESS ADVISORS

 

12.1     Reporting and Responding Parties are entitled to a support person of their choosing to accompany them at every stage in the Title IX resolution process.  The support person may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other supporter the Reporting Party and Responding Party chooses who is both eligible and available.  Persons who will be called as witnesses may not serve as support persons. Reporting and Responding Parties are not required to use the same Support Person throughout, and may make a change at any time during the resolution process. In addition, the University will make provisions to allow a support person who cannot attend a scheduled meeting to attend by telephone, video, and/or virtual meeting technologies as may be convenient and available. 

 

12.2       All support persons, regardless of their profession, are subject to the same campus rules. Support persons may not question witnesses, offer arguments, interfere or present on behalf of the Reporting Party and Responding Party in meetings or during investigative hearings. Support persons may confer quietly with the Reporting Party or Responding Party as necessary, as long as they do not disrupt the process.  For longer or more involved discussions, the parties and their support person should request breaks or step out of meetings to allow for private conversation.

 

12.3     Support persons who step out of their role in any Title IX proceeding will receive a warning. If they continue to disrupt or otherwise fail to respect the limits of their support person role, they will be asked to leave the proceeding.  When a support person is removed from a Title IX meeting or hearing, that proceeding will generally continue without the support person present.  Subsequently, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the support person may be reinstated, may be replaced by a different support person, or whether the party will forfeit the right to a support person for the remainder of the process. 

 

12.4     The University cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects a support person who is an attorney, but the other party does not, or cannot afford an attorney, the University is not obligated to provide one.  Responding parties may wish to contact organizations such as:

 

Reporting parties may wish to contact organizations such as:

 

 

12.5     The University can share records or documentation with Support Persons if Reporting and Responding Parties complete the consent form authorizing such sharing. Support persons are expected to maintain privacy of all shared documents, and will sign a confidentiality agreement stating so. These records may not be shared withthird parties, disclosed publicly, or used for purposes not explicitly authorized by the University. The University may seek to restrict the role of any support person who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by the University’s privacy expectations.  

 

12.6     Reporting and Responding Parties must provide the Title IX Coordinator with the names of their support person at least two (2) business days before the date of their first meeting with the SMIT panel. The parties must provide subsequent timely notice to the Title IX Coordinator if they change support persons at any time. No audio or video recording of any kind other than as required by institutional procedure is permitted during meetings with campus officials.

 

12.7     The University also maintains a pool of trained (non-attorney) process advisors who are assigned to the parties. The Title IX Coordinator assigns an advisor to each party who can assist parties throughout the investigative process. This advisor does not participate in the formal hearing. Process advisors help Reporting and Responding Parties prepare for meetings, and are expected to advise ethically, with integrity and in good faith. A Reporting and Responding Party may elect to change process advisors at any time during the process.   

 

13.0     FORMAL INVESTIGATIVE HEARING

 

13.1     Upon a determination by the Title IX Coordinator that there is reasonable cause to believe there has been a violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and that an informal resolution is not achievable or appropriate, a formal investigation (also known as a formal investigative hearing) will be initiated generally within ten (10) business days. The Title IX Coordinator will also set the target date for the completion of the investigation and notify the Reporting and Responding Parties that the investigation is proceeding.

 

13.2   Within three (3) business days after meeting with the Reporting Party the Title IX Coordinator shall prepare and send a Notice of Investigation to the Responding Party), which will include a brief description of the alleged misconduct, location and date of the alleged incident, a copy of the Reporting Party’s statement, the specific Sexual Misconduct Policy provisions alleged to have been violated, a brief description of the investigative process, and information regarding pertinent dates and timeframes relative to the investigation.

 

When an employee is the Responding Party, a notice of a formal complaint filed will be sent, for notification purposes only, to the employee’s immediate supervisor, director, academic dean (if faculty), and the appropriate Vice President.  When a student is the Responding Party, notification of such will be sent to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and/or Dean of Students.  The same parties will be notified of the outcome of the formal complaint once the investigative process has ended.

 

13.3     The Title IX Coordinator shall select three (3) members of the Sexual Misconduct Investigative Team (SMIT) to investigate the complaint via a formal investigative hearing. All investigative hearings will be thorough, reliable and impartial. SMIT panelists will conduct interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses, and obtain available evidence and identify sources of expert information, if necessary.  The goal of the investigative hearing is to provide an equitable resolution via an equitable process, respecting the civil and legal rights of all parties.

 

13.4     During the investigative hearing, the three-member SMIT panel will do the following:

  • Interview the Reporting Party and Responding Party separately, while a Title IX Office Graduate Assistant takes notes during the meetings. (The Reporting Party and the Responding Party are allowed to provide a written statement to the SMIT Panel).
  • Provide both parties with an opportunity to respond to questions.
  • Provide both parties with an opportunity to present information, including offering names of witnesses or other persons with relevant information.
  • Interview those persons identified by both parties, and any other individuals who may have relevant knowledge of the alleged incident. 
  • Collect documentation and information from the Reporting Party, Responding Party, and witnesses. 
  • Request access to premises, records, and documents (electronic or otherwise) if it is deemed relevant to the complaint. 
  • May seek clarification from persons participating in the investigation regarding the incident or their statement. 

 

13.5     During the investigation, the SMIT panel and/or the Title IX Coordinator will provide regular/weekly updates to both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party, as appropriate.

 

13.6     The formal investigative hearing will be completed expeditiously, normally within 10-14 business days of the completion of the preliminary inquiry by the Title IX Coordinator. Investigations may take longer when, for example, initial reports fail to provide direct first-hand information or in complex situations. Upon completion of the investigation, the SMIT panel shall share a summary of the evidence gathered to both the Reporting and Responding Party for review. This step provides both parties with an opportunity to state a written rebuttal or provide additional information. Both parties will receive five (5) business days to review and respond to their own statement and summary of evidence. If necessary, the SMIT panel will prepare a revised summary of evidence based on the parties’ responses to the initial summary, within five (5) business days. The SMIT panel will then reach a finding by majority vote, based upon a preponderance of the evidence (a more likely than not standard), regarding whether or not a violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy occurred. The SMIT panel will prepare a written final report within ten (10) business days after receiving feedback from both parties or completion of an additional investigation, summarizing the findings of the investigation. This final report will then be forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.

 

13.7     If there is a finding of no violation of the University Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Title IX Coordinator will give written notice of the findings and each party’s respective appeal rights to the Reporting Party, Responding Party, and appropriate University Administrators within three (3) business days of receiving the SMIT panel’s finding. See section 15.0 for detail regarding criteria for appeals.

 

13.8     If there is a finding of violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Title IX investigation process ends, and the sanctioning process will begin within three (3) business days of the SMIT panel’s finding. The parties may submit an impact statement describing the impact of the incident/case on them. These statements are given to the Sanctioning Official.

 

13.9     Pending Complaints: The University reserves the right to conduct and complete an investigation and any subsequent proceedings regardless of the participation of the Reporting Party or the Responding Party. If a student or employee accused of a violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy separates from the University while a complaint is pending, the investigation and any subsequent proceedings will proceed to conclusion even in the student’s or employee’s absence. If the Responding Party is found to have violated the Sexual Misconduct Policy, as a condition of readmission, in addition to any other conditions, that person must satisfy all sanctions imposed upon them in their absence. If a University employee is found to have violated the Sexual Misconduct Policy, as a condition of re-employment, in addition to any other conditions, that person must satisfy all sanctions imposed upon them in their absence. The Title IX Coordinator will act to promptly and effectively remedy the effects of the conduct upon the Reporting Party and the campus community.

 

 

14.0     SANCTIONING OFFICIAL [1]

 

14.1     When a formal investigation determines that a violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy has, more likely than not, occurred, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the matter to the appropriate Sanctioning Official to determine the sanctions.

 

14.1.1  For sanctions involving a student as the Responding Party, the Sanctioning Official shall be the Vice President of Student Affairs or a designee.

 

14.1.2  For sanctions involving staff, third party vendor, or visitor as Responding Party, the Sanctioning Official shall be the Vice President for Finance and Administration or a designee.

 

14.1.3  For sanctions involving a faculty member, the Sanctioning Official shall be the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or a designee with assistance from the Associate Vice President for Human Resources or a designee.

 

 

15.0     IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS

 

Disciplinary sanctions are imposed by the appropriate Sanctioning Official when a University community member is found in violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. Sanctions for sexual misconduct will be determined on a case by case basis. The Title IX Coordinator reviews proposed sanctions before they are imposed to ensure that they, along with the University’s interim measures taken in response to the sexual misconduct, are reasonably calculated to end the sexual misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy the effects on the Reporting Party and/or the University community. The Sanctioning Official reserves the right to broaden or lessen any range of recommended sanction(s) in the case of serious circumstances or egregious behavior. The Sanctioning Official will consider a range of factors when imposing sanction(s). This range includes:

 

  • The nature and severity of the prohibited conduct
  • Previous disciplinary history of the respondent
  • The practice established by previous sanctions
  • Whether force or a weapon was used
  • The involvement of multiple perpetrators
  • Pre-meditated use of alcohol/drugs to facilitate the violation

 

15.1     Any one or more of the sanctions listed below may be imposed when a Responding Party violates the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. Possible sanctions include, but are not limited to:

  • Community/Mandated Service:  Responding Party is required to work in the community and/or campus community for a designated time period.
  • Educational Interventions: Responding party is required to write a letter of apology, reflective paper, participate in a course, workshop etc.
  • Warning/Probation: Sanctioning Official provides a written warning to Responding Party that further violation will result in harsher sanctions.
  • Restitution: Responding Party is required to cover the Reporting Party’s cost of damage or loss of property/services.
  • Campus Ban/Loss of Privileges: Responding Party is not allowed to enter certain campus buildings/locations or participate in activities/programs for a designated time period.
  • No Contact Order: Responding Party is prohibited from contacting, either directly or indirectly, with the Reporting Party for a specified period of time. Contact” includes, but is not limited to, email, social media, instant messaging, text messaging, phone calls, voicemail, direct visits, or through friends acting on behalf of the Responding Party.
  • Suspension: Responding Party is temporarily dismissed from the University for a designated time period. All rights and privileges as a student or employee are suspended during this time period.
  • Expulsion/Employment Termination: Responding Party is dismissed from the University. All rights and privileges as a student or employee are terminated.[2]

 

15.2     After reviewing the written report of the SMIT panel’s findings, and the parties’ impact statements, the Sanctioning Official(s) shall, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, within five (5) business days of receiving the panel’s report, decide upon the appropriate sanction(s). Once an appropriate sanction has been determined, the Sanctioning Official and Title IX Coordinator will notify the Reporting Party and Responding Party within two (2) business days. This letter will include the following:

 

15.2.1 That the outcome of the formal investigation indicates a finding of violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy;

 

15.2.2  That the sanction has been imposed;

 

15.2.3  The nature of the sanction; and

 

15.2.4  The right to appeal the outcome of the finding of violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and the sanction imposed.

 

15.3     Any disclosures to persons other than the parties deemed necessary shall be in accordance with all applicable federal and state laws, including FERPA with regard to students.

 

15.4     Any sanction imposed may be suspended pending appeal or during an employee’s resort to administrative grievance procedures, in the discretion of the Sanctioning Official(s). 

 

 

16.0     NOTICE

           

Whenever notice to the parties is required by this policy, it shall be rendered in writing, to the Reporting Party’s and Responding Party’s last known address[3] and served in accordance with the following, at the discretion of the Sanctioning Official:

  • In person;
  • By email, and/or
  • By regular U.S. Mail, postage prepaid.

 

 

17.0     APPEALS

 

17.1     A party aggrieved by a decision of the Investigative Team, or of the sanctions imposed may file a Petition for Appeal within five (5) business days of notification of the final outcome.

 

17.2     The appeal must be sent to the Title IX Coordinator in writing and state clearly the grounds which would justify consideration.  General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the proceeding is not a basis for appeal.  The written appeal must address one of the following criteria:

 

17.2.1  An error in procedure, which prejudiced the process to the extent the participant, was denied a fundamentally fair hearing as a result of the error.  Only significant procedural errors that may have affected the decision of the Investigative Hearing Panel or which relate to the sanction imposed will be considered.

 

17.2.2  New evidence that was previously unknown and is available during the appeal process that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction.  A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included with the notice of appeal.

 

17.2.3  Clearly demonstrated bias by an investigator or sanctioning official.

 

An appeal which does not clearly raise one of these three criteria will be dismissed without further consideration.

 

17.3     After receiving a Petition for Appeal, the Title IX Coordinator shall inform the non-appealing party of the appeal and give that party an opportunity to respond within five (5) business days. The Title IX Coordinator shall also inform the appropriate Sanctioning Official of the appeal (i.e. Director of Human Resources if the Responding Party is a non-faculty employee, the Provost if the Responding Party is a faculty member, and the Vice President of Student Affairs if the Responding Party is a student).

 

17.4     After receipt of the Petition for Appeal and any response, the Title IX Coordinator shall immediately notify the General Counsel of the University, or a designee, who shall act as the Appeals Officer.

 

17.5     The Appeals Officer shall review the appeal and any response to determine if the appeal meets any of the limited grounds and is timely.  Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original investigatory and sanctioning processes, making changes to the finding only if there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so.  The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or does not meet one of the above stated grounds. The Appeals Officer will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within ten (10) business days from receipt of the appeal. The Appeals Officer will also provide a copy of the written decision on the appeal to the Sanctioning Official(s). The Appeals Officer’s decision is final and non-appealable.

 

17.6     If the Appeals Officer determines that new evidence should be considered, he/she will return the complaint to the investigative team to reconsider in light of the new evidence only, and the parties will be notified in writing accordingly.  The investigative team shall conduct any supplemental investigation in accordance with the procedures set out above with proper notice and opportunity to be heard conveyed to the parties.  The reconsideration of the investigative team is not appealable.

 

17.7     If the Appeals Officer determines that a material procedural error occurred, he/she may return the complaint to the investigative team with instructions to reconvene to cure the error under the same terms set forth in § 17.6.  In rare cases, where the procedural error cannot be cured by the original panel members (as in cases of bias), the Appeals Officer may order a new investigation on the complaint with a new team of investigators. The results of a reconvened investigation cannot be appealed.  The results of a new investigation can be appealed, once, on the four applicable grounds for appeals.  All reconvened or new investigations will follow the format outlined in Sections 13 and 14 above.

 

17.0    FALSE COMPLAINTS       

The University prohibits an individual from knowingly filing a false complaint or making a misrepresentation of sexual misconduct. However, a complaint made in good faith is not considered false merely because the evidence does not ultimately support the allegation of sexual misconduct. Acts of knowingly filing false complaints are, by themselves, cause for disciplinary action.

Responding Parties in an allegation made in bad faith can file a complaint with the Title IX office. If a Responding Party believes that a complaint is filed in bad faith (misinformation was knowingly provided or a false allegation made) a complaint can be filed with the Title IX office. The claim will go through the same review process as complaints of sexual misconduct facilitated by the Title IX Office. 



[1] The University has elected to model portions of this Procedure after the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM) and the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) Model Campus Sexual Misconduct Policy.  The model policy may be found at www.ATIXA.org.

 

[2] Termination for faculty will be in accordance with the procedures set forth in the University’s Faculty Handbook.

[3] Service by mail is complete upon mailing. Service by email is complete upon forwarding by electronic means. A certificate of personal delivery, emailing, or posting with the U.S. Post Office shall constitute sufficient notice under this policy.




Review


This policy will be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel, Director of Compliance, and Title IX Coordinator every three years or as necessitated by a change in the law.


Forms/Instructions



 


Appendices


 Appendix A

Rape Crisis Centers

 

The Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention   
USM Box 5196
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5196
(601) 264-7078
Laurel, MS: (601) 649-1721
24-Hour Crisis Line: 601-264-7777
http://www.theshafercenter.info/index.html

 

 

Wesley House Community Center
East Mississippi Sexual Assault Center Inc.
P.O. Box 1207 Meridian, MS 39202
(601) 485-4736
Crisis Lines: (800) 643-6250 or (601) 485-2828

 

 

 

Our House, Inc.
P.O. Box 3956
Greenville, MS 38704
(662) 334-6873
Crisis Lines: (662) 332-5683 or (888) 884-5683

 

 

 

Gulf Coast Center for Non-Violence
P.O. Box 333
Biloxi, MS 39533-0985
(228) 436-3809
http://gcwcfn.org/wordpress/

 

 

 

S.A.F.E. Inc.
P.O. Box 985
Tupelo, MS 38802
(662) 841-9138

 

 

Partner Violence Shelters

 

Angel Wings Outreach Center
P.O. Box 787
Mendenhall, MS. 39114-0787
Admin: 601-847-5802
Crisis Line: 1-866-847-5802

 

 

C.A.R.E.S.
120 Coleman Street
Cleveland, MS. 38732
Admin: 662-843-0111
Crisis: 662-843-1491

 

 

Care Lodge
P.O. Box 5331
Meridian, MS. 39302
Admin: 601-482-8719
Shelter: 601-483-8436
Crisis: 601-693-4673 / 888-593-4673

 

 

Catholic Charities-Shelter for Battered Families
200 N. Congress St. Suite 100
Jackson, MS 39201
Admin. 601-366-0750 / Legal 601-206-9339
Shelter 601-366-0222
Crisis: 1-800-237-9012

 

 

Our House, Inc.
P. O. Box 3956
Greenville, MS 38704
Admin. 662-334-6873
Toll Free: 1-800-898-0834


S.A.F.E., Inc.
P.O. Box 985
Tupelo, MS. 38802-0985
Admin: 662-841-9138/ 841-9105
Crisis: 662-841-2273 /800-527-7233

 

Safe Haven, Inc. (MS)
P.O. 5354
Columbus, MS 39704
Crisis: 662-327-6040
Crisis: 1-800-890-6040

 

Salvation Army Domestic Violence Shelter
P.O. Box 630
Pascagoula, MS 39568
Phone: (601) 762-8267

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources

 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

800-273-TALK (8255)

 

Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault

mscasa.org

 

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

RAINN.ORG

 

 

Catholic Charities Inc.
Jackson Rape Crisis Center
200 North Congress Street, Suite 100
Jackson, MS 39201-2248
(601) 948-4495
Crisis Line: (601) 982-7273

 

 

 

The Guardian Sexual Assault Crisis Center
806 N. Union Street
Natchez, MS 39120
(601) 442-0107
Crisis Line: (888) 721-5460

 

 

Safe Haven, Inc.
P.O. Box 5354
Columbus, MS 39704-5354
(662) 327-2259
Crisis Lines: (601) 485-2828 or (800) 643-6250

 

 

Family Crisis Services of NW MS, Inc.
P.O. Box 1698
Oxford, MS 38655
(662) 234-9929

 

 

 

MS Coalition Against Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 4172
Jackson, MS 39296
(601) 948-0555

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic Abuse Family Shelter
P.O. Box 273
Laurel, MS 39441
Admin: 601-428-1707
Crisis: 1-800-649-1092

 

 

Domestic Abuse Family Shelter
(Second Location)
P. O. Box 1504
Hattiesburg, MS 39403
Admin. 601-582-2102

 

 

Gulf Coast Women’s Shelter for Non-Violence
P.O. Box 333
Biloxi, MS. 39533
Admin: 228-436-3809
Crisis: 228-435-1968
Crisis: 1-800-800-1396 / 888-593-4673

 

Haven House Family Shelter
P. O. Box 57
Vicksburg, MS 39181
Admin. 601-638-0021
Crisis: 601-638-0555
Crisis: 1-800-898-0860

 

House of Grace
P.O. Box 272
Southaven, MS. 38671
Admin: 253-0252 or 0251
Crisis Line: 662-342-1432

 

The Guardian Shelter
P.O. Box 1225
Natchez, MS 39121
Admin: 601-442-0142
Crisis: 1-800-273-6938

 

 

 

The Center for Violence Prevention
P. O. Box 6279
Pearl, MS 39288
Admin. 601-932-4198
Crisis: 1-800-266-4198

 

Salvation Army Domestic Violence Shelter
P. O. Box 114
Greenville, MS 38702
Phone: (662) 378-8070

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources for LGBTQ+ Community

 
The Gay-Straight Alliance at the Union
Thad Cochran Center, USM Hattiesburg
https://www.facebook.com/USMGSA/
Or, contact: s.kristine.johnson@usm.edu, jasmine.m.keyes@usm.edu, or faculty advisor eric.tribunella@usm.edu.
 
The Spectrum Center
210 St. 25th Ave.
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
601.909.5338
www.hattiesburgpride.com 
The Dandelion Project
http://www.thedeandelionproject.org
601 -283-8090
 

University of Mississippi Medical School’s 2016 LGBYQ Resource Guide

Search at https://www.umc.edu

 
Southern Miss Alliance for EqualityUSM – Long Beach Campus http://usm.edu/gulfcoast/alliance-equality  
  
 

 

 

 

 

 


Related Information


 


History


Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes

July 10, 2013 - Technical corrections to comply with the March 2013 reenactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) and the May 2013 Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Resolution Agreement with the University of Montana.

January, 29, 2018. Substantial revisions to the policy to comply with the March 2013 reenactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act), and the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Interim Guidance and Questions and Answers on Campus Sexual Misconduct dated September, 2017