Human Rights Procedures for Student Respondents
A. General Background
i. Information regarding these procedures will be provided to each faculty member, student, and employee in order to assure prompt action with respect to allegations of discrimination.
ii. The College reserves the right to investigate and remediate all conduct contrary to the Human Rights Policy Statement, even without receipt of a complaint.
iii. In cases involving illegal or criminal behavior (e.g., rape or assault), the student or employee retains the right to file a complaint with local law enforcement and will be made aware of that right at the time the complaint is received. In all cases, the student or employee retains the right to pursue civil action. No pressure shall be put on an individual to use this procedure instead of pursuing other means of redress. While a criminal investigation is ongoing, the College reserves the right to investigate and remediate all conduct contrary to the Human Rights Policy.
B. Timely Reporting
i. All reports and complaints of Human Rights violations should be filed with the Title IX Coordinator or Designated Official as soon as possible after the incident(s) occurred or in a timely manner. While complainants are welcome to file a report or complaint at any time, complainants are encouraged to come forward as soon as possible because a delay in reporting or making a complaint may impact the effectiveness of the investigation.
Revised May 2013
C. Procedural Options
i. Self-Help: If members of the College community believe that they have been subject to discrimination, harassment or any unwanted attention, they should:
a. Make their unease and/or disapproval directly and immediately known to the harasser (unless the unwelcome actions or attention are threatening or violent) and inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome, offensive, and must stop. In many instances, this may stop the conduct;
b. Make a written record of the date, time and nature of the incident(s) and the name(s) of any witnesses; and
c. Report the incident to the Human Rights Committee Chair, Equal Opportunity and Employee Relations Specialist (Title IX Coordinator), or Dean of Students.
1. Human Rights Committee Chair;
2. Title IX Coordinator;
3. Director of Damietta Cross-Cultural Center;
4. Director of the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women;
5. Director of Services for Students with Disabilities;
6. Designated Officials, who are the:
i. Equal Opportunity and Employee Relations Specialist
Persons in these positions serve as permanent advisors to the Committee and consultants to the community. They cannot serve as Hearing Panel or Committee members and so will have no conflict when working with, providing advice and guidance to others involved in the process.
b. If details of a specific instance of discrimination or harassment are disclosed to a person obligated to report (see policy), the College will follow up as outlined in this policy.
iii. Disclosure of Alleged Incident of Human Rights Violation
a. Filing a Report and/or Complaint: Once an individual discloses identifying information about an alleged case of discrimination to a Designated Official or supervisor/area head, s/he will be deemed to have lodged a Human Rights report with the College which will be investigated and could lead to filing a complaint. If the information is disclosed to a supervisor/area head, such person must immediately relay such information to the Title IX Coordinator and/or appropriate Designated Official.
b. Title IX Coordinator and/or Designated Official’s Response: Upon receiving information of an alleged case of discrimination, the Title IX Coordinator or Designated Official shall meet with the complainant and/or reporting witness and conduct a preliminary investigation, as appropriate, including obtaining any investigation reports conducted by Public Safety. Some forms of behavior that are disturbing may not meet the definitions of harassment or discrimination found in this policy but may still be prohibited by other rules or policies and may constitute student or employee misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator and/or Designated Official, in consultation with the complainant or reporting witness, will determine under which procedure the matter will be reviewed.
c. If identifying information regarding an incident is provided, the Title IX Coordinator or a Designated Official will attempt to gain consent from a potential complainant to pursue or continue with an investigation. A request by a potential complainant for confidentiality will be weighed against the seriousness of the alleged harassment; past complaints against the individual; and the alleged harasser’s rights to receive information about the allegations. Considering the best interest of the College community, the Title IX Coordinator or Designated Official may proceed with an investigation without obtaining consent from the potential complainant and will make every effort to maintain confidentiality and anonymity of the potential complainant.
d. If it is determined that the reporting witness shall pursue action under this policy, the reporting witness shall either fill out a complaint form or make a written statement regarding the Human Rights complaint. If informal intervention is deemed appropriate as set forth below, then the reporting witness may, but is not be required to, fill out a complaint form or make a written statement; however, a complaint form or written statement must be completed if the Human Rights complaint is to be resolved through the complaint process. If a reporting witness who is a potential complainant does not want to pursue a complaint, they can provide a witness statement to be used in the investigation.
e. During an investigation, the College reserves the right to take immediate corrective action as deemed warranted. The College will advise appropriate Siena individuals of information relating to an alleged Human Rights violation only on a need to know basis. Remediation may include moving residents, restricting contact, placing conditions upon the actions of the parties, or such other measures as deemed necessary for the safety, health, and welfare of the College community.
iv. Preliminary Interventions upon Report of Unwelcome Conduct
a. Individuals seeking an informal resolution to end conduct that the person believes violated the Human Rights Policy may make a verbal or written report and request that the Designated Official pursue interventions to resolve the matter, including negotiation, shuttle diplomacy, mediation or restorative justice. For incidences that involve sexual violence or any form of violence, these interventions are not appropriate and will not be used.
b. Title IX Coordinator and Designated Official’s Response: The Title IX Coordinator and/or Designated Official is responsible for determining if informal intervention is appropriate given the nature of the complaint and the outcome of any preliminary investigation. Specific guidelines on informal interventions have been developed and are available upon request in anticipation of their use. Depending on the circumstances, the Title IX Coordinator and/or Designated Official may move immediately into the formal complaint process.
c. If it is determined that informal intervention is appropriate, the Designated Official will discuss with the reporting witness the range of possible options that might be utilized to address the unwelcome behavior such as informal discussion, a memorandum of understanding, counseling, education, training, and dispute resolution. In many instances, these actions will be adequate to resolve perceived, potential or actual instances of discrimination and harassment.
d. If the reporting witness is not in agreement with the outcome of the informal intervention process, the issue cannot be resolved informally, or if the Designated Official determines that additional inquiry is still appropriate, the Designated Official will commence the complaint process.
e. The Designated Official may seek review of the preliminary investigation results by the Title IX Coordinator or one of the other Designated Officials to assess whether a continued investigation is needed and whether to proceed with the Complaint Process.
v. Complaint Process
a. Complaint: If not already completed during a preliminary intervention, complainants will be referred to a Designated Official to complete a complaint form and written statement.
b. Formal Investigation: After receiving the complaint, the Designated Official will promptly conduct a formal investigation, by obtaining any investigation reports conducted by Public Safety or during the preliminary investigation, and interviewing the complainant, respondent, and witnesses, and conducting any other investigatory work that may be necessary.
1. Siena College attempts to complete formal investigations within thirty (30) calendar days. In certain circumstances the investigation time frames may need to be extended (e.g., during July and August faculty members are often not available, significant number of witnesses to interview, multiple allegations in a single complaint, etc.). However, every effort will be made to resolve cases as expeditiously as possible.
2. If the respondent confirms the allegations and acknowledges responsibility for his/her actions, the Designated Official, in consultation with the complainant and other designated College officials, will determine the most appropriate course of action. If the complainant does not want to pursue an informal resolution, then the Designated Official will follow the procedures outlined below in Section (g) Acceptance of Responsibility. If the respondent denies the allegations and/or the complainant still wishes to proceed, the Designated Official will continue to proceed through the investigation process.
3. Once presented with the notice of complaint, the respondent has four (4) business days to formally accept or deny responsibility for the alleged behavior in writing. Failure to respond by the deadline will be treated as denial of responsibility and the formal process will proceed as outlined. The complainant may request a copy of the respondent’s written response. A redacted copy will be provided that includes the responses to allegations made in the complaint.
c. After a complaint has been filed, the complainant may seek to resolve the matter through dispute resolution mechanisms and request negotiation, shuttle diplomacy, mediation or restorative justice. These interventions are voluntary and the respondent may decline to participate and prefer to utilize the resolution process outlined below. For incidences that involve sexual violence or any form of violence, these interventions are not appropriate and will not be used.
d. Investigation Report: The Designated Official or designated Investigator prepares a written report following the completion of the investigation. Except in certain circumstances, the report should be completed within ten (10) business days after the completion of the investigation. The report, at a minimum, must include a:
1. Summary of the complaint;
2. Summary of the response by the individual against whom the complaint was made;
3. Summary of the statements and evidence obtained during the investigation; and
4. Summary of prior settlements or substantiated complaints against the respondent.
e. Review of Investigation Report: After completion of the investigation report, the Designated Official or designated Investigator may determine that there is no evidence to support a complaint that a Human Rights violation has occurred. The Designated Official may, at his/her discretion, request a consultation with the other Designated Official or the Title IX Coordinator to review that determination. The Designated Official may, at his/her discretion, request the Chair of the Human Rights Committee to convene an ad hoc advisory group comprised of no more than three (3) Human Rights Committee members to review the matter. If, after careful review of the investigation report, the ad hoc advisory group unanimously determines that there is no evidence to support a Human Rights complaint, the Designated Official will inform both the respondent and complainant of the lack of evidence to move the complaint forward as outlined below If the ad hoc advisory group, once convened, is not unanimous in a determination that there is no evidence to support the complaint of a violation of the Human Rights policy, the matter will proceed through the formal process as outlined below.
1. While it may be determined that there are no grounds to proceed with a Human Rights complaint, the matter may still be evaluated to determine if the behavior that took place constitutes student misconduct under other procedural areas and referred to the appropriate process/personnel for review.
f. Notice of Outcome of Investigation
1. If it is determined that there is no evidence to support a Human Rights complaint, the Designated Official will present a written notice of the outcome of the investigation to the respondent. In cases involving allegations of sexual violence, written notice shall also be sent to the complainant. This document shall consist of a summary of allegations, the decision rendered, and a rationale for this decision. Depending on the type of violation and in accordance with student confidentiality law, the notice of outcome may also be presented to the complainant.
2. If it is determined that there are sufficient grounds to continue to move the complaint forward, the Designated Official will present a written notice of the outcome of the investigation to the complainant and respondent, in accordance with student confidentiality law. This document shall consist of a summary of allegations, a summary of the evidence in support of the complaint, and specific area/s of the Human Rights Policy of which the respondent is alleged to have violated.
g. Acceptance of Responsibility
1. If the student respondent accepts responsibility, the Designated Official (Dean of Students or designee) shall impose a sanction that takes into account the respondent’s prior record and any prior complaints as well as the severity of the incident and the outcome sought by the complainant. The Designated Official may, at his/her discretion, consult other designated College officials, or request the Chair to convene an ad hoc advisory group comprised of no more than three (3) Human Rights Committee members to review the matter and make a recommendation as to the disciplinary action.
i. The Designated Official will send written notice of the outcome and sanction to the complainant and respondent. The sanction shall become final seven (7) business days after written notice of said findings was sent to the respondent unless formal written appeal is submitted to the Human Rights Committee Chair. Failure to submit the appeal within seven (7) business days waives the right of written appeal. On appeal, the Vice President for Student Affairs (“VPSA”) may confirm, amend or reject a sanction.
ii. The decision of the VPSA and sanction imposed shall become final seven (7) business days after written notice of said decision was sent to the respondent and complainant unless formal written appeal is submitted to the Human Rights Committee Chair, along with a copy to the Vice President. Failure to submit the appeal within seven (7) business days waives the right of written appeal.
h. Denial of Responsibility: If the student respondent denies responsibility, a formal hearing will be convened.
vi. Formal Hearing
a. Once a student respondent denies responsibility and the investigation is complete, the Designated Official shall contact the Human Rights Committee Chair who is responsible for convening a Hearing Panel, which shall consist of five (5) members of the Human Rights Committee (with equal representation from the complainants and respondents constituencies and the remainder from others on the Committee). The purpose of a hearing is for the Hearing Panel to determine, to the best of its ability, the facts regarding the incident(s) and whether the facts established constitute a violation of the Human Rights Policy. The Panel will examine all testimonial and documentary evidence it deems relevant, including the Designated Official’s investigation report and legal opinions from the College legal counsel, where appropriate. The Hearing Panel will invite the complainant, respondent, and witnesses identified by each party to meet with the Panel to present any pertinent information. Privacy and confidentially shall be protected to the extent possible.
b. Specific hearing guidelines have been developed and are available upon request in anticipation of a formal hearing. Generally, hearings should commence within fourteen (14) calendar days of when the respondent denied responsibility and the investigation is complete except for good cause, or by agreement of the parties. Written notice of the date, time and location of the hearing will be provided to the complainant and respondent. The parties may utilize an advocate or legal counsel who shall serve only in an advisory role. The advocate/counsel may only converse directly with his/her party.
c. The Hearing Panel will render a finding regarding responsibility based on the evidence using a standard of “more likely than not” that a violation of the Human Rights Policy has or has not occurred. The panel will normally render a finding based upon unanimity. In those instances where unanimity is unavailable, a majority vote may be used to render the decision.
d. Student respondents may receive penalties as outlined in Siena Life under the Student Conduct System up to and including expulsion.
e. Within seven (7) business days of the completion of the review of the case by a Hearing Panel, the recommended finding(s) and sanction(s) shall be forwarded to the VPSA. The recommended findings are to include detailed findings of fact with respect to the incident(s) and how those facts do or do not support a finding of more likely than not that a violation of the Human Rights Policy occurred. The VPSA may accept, amend or reject the recommended finding(s) and/or sanction(s).
1. In cases where the VPSA amends or rejects a recommended finding and/or sanction as presented by the Hearing Panel, the VPSA will include in the file and written notice a rationale for the decision not to accept as recommended.
f. The VPSA will send written notice to the complainant, respondent, and Designated Official of his/her decision regarding findings and sanction(s) within seven (7) business days of receipt of the recommended findings and sanctions from the Hearing Panel.
g. The decision of the VPSA and sanction imposed shall become final seven (7) business days after written notice of said decision was sent to the respondent unless formal written appeal is submitted to the Human Rights Committee Chair, along with a copy to the VPSA. Failure to submit the appeal within seven (7) business days waives the right of written appeal.
D. Appellate Review
i. Grounds for an Appeal of Finding(s): Complainants and/or student respondents may request a review of the finding(s). Appeals of the finding(s) of responsibility must be based upon procedural error or new information that was not available at the time of the hearing, and could not have been produced by a reasonable effort. The party wishing to appeal may request a review of the finding(s) by the Human Rights Committee Chair to determine whether the finding was made in accordance with these procedures or whether the new information is likely to have a substantial impact on the finding(s). The other party will be notified by the Chair of the request for an appeal and both parties may make written statements to the Chair. If the Chair finds that the procedures were not followed in a substantial manner or that the new information is likely to have a substantial impact on the finding(s), then the Human Rights Committee Chair will convene an Appellate Review Panel and follow the procedures outlined below for the Appellate Review Panel. The decision of the Chair is final.
ii. Grounds for an Appeal of Sanction(s): Complainants and respondents may appeal a sanction based on grounds that the sanction(s) imposed are disproportionate.
i. Appellate Review Panel: The Human Rights Committee Chair will convene an Appellate Review Panel of three (3) members of the Human Rights Committee who did not participate in the first panel (including one representative from each party’s constituency) within seven (7) business days of receipt of the notice of appeal. The non appealing party will be notified of the request for an appeal and may submit a written statement on his/her position with regard to the finding or sanction. The appealing party may submit written statements in addition to the written request for a review of the finding or sanction. The panel may elect to invite the complainant and respondent to meet with the panel. The panel shall submit its written finding regarding the appeal to the Human Rights Committee Chair within seven (7) business days of the notice of appeal. The panel must provide a written rationale for any modifications to the finding or sanction.
a. The Human Rights Committee Chair will send written notice to the complainant, respondent, Vice President and Designated Official of the findings of the Appellate Review Panel within seven (7) business days of receipt of the findings.
b. If the Appellate Review Panel determines that suspension, dismissal or expulsion is appropriate, the respondent may appeal the Appellate Review Panel’s decision to the President. If the Appellate Review Panel determines that a suspension, dismissal or expulsion sanction imposed by the Vice President should be modified to a lesser sanction, the complainant may appeal the Appellate Review Panel’s decision to the President. A written request for an appeal must be made within seven (7) business days directly to the President. The Human Rights Committee Chair will send written notice of the request for an appeal to the non appealing party. The President, within seven (7) business days of the receipt of the request and the report and decision of the Human Rights Appellate Review Panel, shall make a decision which may affirm, reverse, or modify the sanctions and inform the respondent, complainant, and Designated Official in writing. The decision of the President is final.
E. Complaints filed by the Designated Official
i. A Designated Official may file a complaint through these procedures against any individual s/he has a reason to believe has engaged in a pattern of discrimination, based upon the number of complaints filed against an individual and resolved through informal intervention.
ii. Additionally, often individuals are reluctant to pursue the remedies provided in this policy even when the individual perceives him/herself to be a victim of discrimination as outlined. Should a Designated Official become aware of an alleged incident of discrimination, even if the victim has not reported it or is unwilling to pursue a complaint, the College (via the Designated Official) may conduct an investigation, as appropriate, and take any necessary action.
iii. The Designated Official could act as the complainant and one of the other Designated Officials could assume the responsibilities normally assigned to the Designated Official. The Designated Official may also request that another Designated Official act as the complainant. The Designated Official acting as a complainant may also utilize an advocate as necessary. The Title IX Coordinator may not act as a complainant.
F. Dispositions/Compliance Monitoring
i. The Dean of Students or designee is responsible for monitoring student compliance.
ii. Written notification of findings that trigger monitoring responsibilities shall be provided to the person responsible for monitoring compliance. Other parties may be notified as deemed necessary to ensure compliance.
iii. Failure to observe the terms and/or conditions of any informal resolution or sanctions imposed in formal resolutions constitutes grounds for new action under either the procedures outlined in the Human Rights Policy or those identified for addressing matters of student misconduct.
iv. The Designated Official, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, the complainant and/or person responsible for monitoring compliance, will determine which procedures shall be applied for investigation and response.
G. Records of Complaints/Reports of Self-Help Made under Procedures
i. A copy of the investigation report and the final decision shall be maintained by the College and included in the Human Resources file of the respondent only if the determination concludes that the respondent engaged in prohibited conduct.
ii. Complaints against students will be held in the respondent’s file in accordance with the policy as stated in the Retention and Release of Student Disciplinary Records.
iii. No record of a complaint is kept in the complainant’s Human Resources file or student file unless the investigation concludes that the complaint was knowingly false and malicious.
iv. The Title IX Coordinator shall keep a record of all reports and complaints made under the Human Rights policy, regardless of the outcome.
v. All documents prepared and maintained pursuant to the Human Rights Policy and Procedures shall conform to all applicable governing law.
vi. Record retention and release by the College shall be in conformance with applicable law and regulations.
H. Annual Reporting
i. The Title IX Coordinator and Designated Officials (Equal Opportunity and Employee Relations Specialist and Dean of Students) in conjunction with the Human Rights Committee Chair shall provide the President and the Cabinet with an annual confidential report, detailing the number and disposition of different types of incidents, allegations, reports and complaints of discrimination that have come to their attention each year. Information that could identify complainants or respondents against whom no finding has been made shall not be included. A summary may be provided to the College community so long as confidentiality of individuals’ identities is not breached. The President shall determine the propriety of a report to the entire College community.