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Procedures for Investigation and Resolution

Resolving Complaints

11. Resolving Complaints

An individual who wishes to make a report of sexual harassment or other forms of prohibited conduct is encouraged to make a report directly to the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, the Title IX Specialist, the Student Affairs Office, Residence Life, Campus Safety, or Human Resources. In every instance under this policy, the College, through the coordinated efforts of the Title IX team, will conduct an Initial Title IX Assessment. 

At the conclusion of the Title IX Assessment, the report will be referred for Informal Resolution or Investigation to determine if there is sufficient information to proceed with Formal Resolution. 

Informal Resolution is a non-disciplinary, remedies-based approach that does not involve disciplinary action against a Respondent. 

Formal Resolution is a grievance process that may involve discipline up to and including expulsion and/or termination of employment. 

11.1. Initial Title IX Assessment
Upon receipt of a report, MICA, through the coordinated efforts of the Title IX team, will conduct an Initial Title IX Assessment. The first step of the assessment will usually be a preliminary meeting of the Claimant with the Title IX Coordinator or a member of the Title IX team. The purpose of the preliminary meeting is to gain a basic understanding of the nature and circumstances of the report; it is not intended to be a full investigatory interview. At this meeting, the Claimant will be provided with information about resources, procedural options, and interim remedies.

As part of the initial assessment of the report, the Title IX team member(s) will complete the following as appropriate:

● Assess the nature and circumstances of the allegation

● Address immediate physical safety and emotional well-being needs

● Notify the Claimant of their right to contact law enforcement and seek medical treatment, including the importance of preservation of evidence

● Report the incident to Campus Safety for entry into MICA's daily crime log

● Confer with Campus Safety to assess the reported conduct for the need for a timely warning under the Clery Act

● Provide the Claimant with information about:

○ On and off campus resources

○ The range of interim accommodations and remedies

○ An explanation of the procedural options, including Informal Resolution and Formal Resolution

● Make available an advisor, advocate, or support person

● Assess for a pattern of evidence or other similar conduct by Respondent

● Discuss the Claimant's expressed preference for manner of resolution and any barriers to proceeding

● Explain MICA's policy prohibiting retaliation


This initial review will proceed to the point where a reasonable assessment of the safety of the individual and of the campus community can be made. Thereafter, an investigation may continue depending on a variety of factors, such as the Claimant's wish to pursue a formal resolution, the risk posed to any individual or the campus community by not proceeding, and the nature of the allegation.

At the conclusion of the Initial Title IX Assessment, the Title IX team will determine the appropriate manner of resolution and, if appropriate, refer the report for Informal Resolution, or Formal Investigation and Resolution.

The determination as to how to proceed will be communicated to the Claimant in writing. Depending on the circumstances and requested resolution, the Respondent may or may not be notified of the report or resolution. A Respondent will be notified when the College seeks action that would impact a Respondent, such as protective measures that restrict their movement on campus or communication with certain individuals, the initiation of an investigation, or the decision to involve the Respondent in Informal or Formal Resolution.


11.2 Informal Resolution

Informal resolution is a remedies-based, non-disciplinary approach designed to eliminate a hostile environment without taking disciplinary action against a Respondent.

Where the Initial Title IX Assessment concludes that informal resolution may be appropriate, MICA will take immediate and corrective action through the imposition of individual and community remedies designed to maximize the Claimant's access to the educational and extracurricular activities at the college and to eliminate a hostile environment. Depending on the form of informal resolution used, it may be possible to maintain anonymity. Informal resolution will not be used in cases of sexual violence or assault.

MICA will not compel a Claimant to engage in mediation, to directly confront the Respondent, or to participate in any particular form of informal resolution. Mediation, even if voluntary, will not be used in cases involving sexual violence or assault. The decision to pursue informal resolution will be made when the College has sufficient information about the nature and scope of the conduct, which may occur at any time. Participation in informal resolution is voluntary, and a Claimant can request to end informal resolution at any time.

The Title IX Coordinator will maintain records of all reports and conduct referred for informal resolution. Informal resolution will typically be completed between thirty (30) and xity (60) business days of the initial report.

11.3 Formal Resolution

Pre-Investigation Procedures

11.3.1.  Notice of Investigation

When it is determined that a case is being forwarded for Formal Investigation and Resolution, the Investigators will send written Notification Letter to both the Claimant and the Respondent that an investigation has been initiated.

11.3.2. Pre-Investigation Meetings with Claimant and Respondent

The Notification Letter (see 11.3.1 above) will also serve to schedule separate meetings with each party. At this pre-investigation meeting, each party will receive a notice of charge letter which will include:

• a brief summary of the conduct at issue and the specific provision of the policy violation(s) that are alleged to have taken place.
• a review of expectations regarding confidentiality, retaliation, and any relevant no-contact directives.
• an explanation of the resolution process

The Claimant and Respondent will then have the opportunity to ask any questions. If the Claimant and/or Respondent have elected to have advisors throughout the process, each advisor is encouraged to accompany the party to this initial meeting. Support persons are also permitted to attend (see section 11.4.5. for details on these roles).

11.4 Formal Resolution

Investigation
Following the Initial Title IX Assessment, the College may initiate a formal investigation which will be prompt, thorough, and impartial. The Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the Title IX team, will oversee the investigation. The investigation is designed to provide a fair and reliable gathering of the facts. All individuals in the investigation, including the Claimant, the Respondent, and any third-party witnesses, will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect. Consistent with the need for a full assessment of the facts, the investigation will safeguard the privacy of the individuals involved.

MICA will typically designate a team of two investigators who have specialized training and experience investigating allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The investigators may be MICA employees or external investigator(s) engaged to assist the College in its fact gathering. In certain circumstances MICA may designate a single investigator or more than two investigators as is appropriate for the given report. Any investigator chosen to conduct the investigation must be free of any known or perceived bias or conflict of interest. The Claimant and the Respondent each have the right to request a different investigator if they know or perceive a bias or conflict of interest is present.

The investigator(s) will coordinate the gathering of information from the Claimant, the Respondent, and any other individuals who may have information relevant to the determination. The investigator(s) will also seek to gather any available physical or medical evidence, including documents, communications between the parties, and other electronic records as appropriate. The Claimant and Respondent will have an equal opportunity to be heard, to submit evidence, and to identify witnesses who may have relevant information.

The investigation will usually be completed within thirty (30)  calendar days. Given the availability of witnesses or complexity of the circumstances, this time frame may be extended as necessary to ensure the integrity and completeness of the investigation. The Claimant and Respondent will be updated regarding any changes to this timeframe.

At the request of law enforcement, MICA may agree to defer its Title IX fact gathering until after the initial stages of a criminal investigation. The College will nevertheless communicate with the Claimant regarding Title IX rights, procedural options, and the implementation of interim measures to assure safety and well-being. The College will promptly resume its Title IX fact gathering as soon as law enforcement has completed its initial investigation.

Information gathered during the investigation will be used to evaluate the appropriate course of action, provide for the safety of the individual and the campus community, and impose remedies as necessary to address the effects of the conduct cited in the report.

If the Investigation determines the Respondent is responsible, based on "a more likely than not" (a preponderance of evidence) standard, the Investigator(s) will then recommend appropriate sanctions to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy. The Title IX Coordinator or Deputy will review the recommendations and approve an appropriate sanction(s).

The findings of the Investigation will be summarized in writing. This summary will detail the findings of fact and the basis/rationale for the decision of the finding, making reference to the evidence that led to the decision of the Investigator(s).

At the close of the investigation, the Investigator(s) will meet individually with the both the Claimant and the Respondent to explain the finding(s) of responsibility based upon the preponderance of evidence and any disciplinary sanctions. Notification to both parties will take place without significant time delay between notifications. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person; mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official College records; or emailed to the parties' College-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.

Once informed, either party may choose to appeal the finding(s). See Section 11.5

11.4.1. Witnesses

The Claimant and Respondent have the right to request witnesses to be interviewed during the investigation. Witnesses must have observed the conduct in question or have information relevant to the incident and cannot be called solely to speak about an individual's character.


11.4.2. Investigative Meetings

It is the responsibility of the Investigator(s) to assure that the information necessary to make an informed decision is presented. The Investigator(s) play an active role in questioning both parties and witnesses involved in the case. At times, the Investigator(s) may need to ask difficult or sensitive questions in order to understand areas of factual dispute or to gain a full understanding of the context.

Parties and other individuals who offer information during an investigation are expected to respond honestly, and to the best of their knowledge. If necessary, the Investigator(s) reserves the right to recall any party or witness for further questions and to seek additional information to make a decision

11.4.3. Relevance

The Title IX Coordinator or Deputy will review the investigative report, any witness statements, and any other documentary evidence to determine whether the proffered information contained therein is necessary and material to the determination of responsibility given the nature of the allegation. In general, the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy may redact information that is irrelevant, more prejudicial than probative, or immaterial. The Title IX Coordinator or Deputy may also redact statements of personal opinion, rather than direct observations or reasonable inferences from the facts, and statements as to general reputation for any character trait, including honesty.

11.4.4. Prior Sexual History and/or Pattern Evidence

Prior Sexual History of a Complainant: In general, a Claimant's prior sexual history is not relevant and will not be admitted as evidence in the investigation. Where there is a current or ongoing relationship between the Claimant and the Respondent, and the Respondent alleges consent, the prior sexual history between the parties may be relevant to assess the manner and nature of communications between the parties. However, the mere fact of a current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Any prior sexual history of the Claimant with other individuals is typically not relevant and will not be permitted.

Pattern Evidence by a Respondent: Where there is evidence of pattern of conduct similar in nature by the Respondent, either prior to or subsequent to the conduct in question, this information may be deemed relevant to the determination of assigning sanctions. The determination of relevance will be based on an assessment of whether the previous incident was substantially similar to the conduct cited in the report and indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern by the Respondent. Where there is a prior finding of responsibility for a similar act of sexual misconduct, there is a presumption of relevance and the finding may be considered in making a determination in the assigning of a sanction.

11.4.5. Advisors, Support Persons, and Attorneys

Advisor: In any meeting, the Claimant and Respondent may choose to be assisted by an advisor of their choosing. To assist parties in identifying an advisor, the Title IX Team maintains a list of campus community members who have undergone Title IX training and can guide individuals through the investigative process. The College recommends that each party select an advisor who has extensive knowledge of College policy and procedures. The advisor may accompany the individual to any College investigative, administrative, or adjudicative meeting. For cases involving a claim of Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and/or Stalking, either party may choose to employ an attorney to serve as their advisor. An advisor may not advocate for, or speak on behalf of, a party at any stage of the proceedings, but may be present to provide counsel and advice.

Support Person: A Claimant and Respondent may also choose to be assisted by an emotional support person of their choice. The person must be a member of the MICA community (student, faculty, staff, or administrator), or a member of the Claimant's or Respondent's family (including life partners). To serve as a support person, the individual will be required to meet with the Associate Dean for Student Life and Judicial Affairs or the Title IX Coordinator in advance of any participation in the proceedings. The support person may accompany the individual to any College investigative, administrative, or adjudicative meeting.

The support person cannot be a witness in the investigation. The support person is a silent and non-participating presence who is there solely to observe and provide moral support during the process. This person is not to address the investigators, except to ask for a short recess if one of the parties requires some time to compose themselves or collect their thoughts. The Investigators have the right at all times to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of a support person and whether the person may remain at the proceedings. While the support person may be present to hear testimony, no written materials are to be shared with support people.

Absent extenuating circumstances, witnesses and others involved in an investigation are not entitled to have a support person present. Witnesses may request a support person accompany them by submitting written notice to the Investigators a minimum of 24 hours in advance of their scheduled interview.

Role of the Attorney/Outside Agreements: The College prohibits outside attorneys or family members acting as attorneys from participating in proceedings under this policy except in the role of advisor (as defined above). A Claimant or Respondent may choose to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney at their own expense, but the attorney may not participate on behalf of a party in investigatory interviews, informal resolution proceedings, or formal resolution. An attorney may only be present as an advisor, and only in cases involving a claim of Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and/or Stalking.

11.4.6. Safeguarding of Privacy

All participants involved in an investigation are required to keep the information learned throughout the process private. During the appeal period the full investigative report may be reviewed by either party. Copies or photographs of the full investigative report are not permitted. Parties may make an appointment with the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy to arrange for viewing. All copies provided must be returned to the College in full. Any breach of this requirement for privacy is subject to further disciplinary action by the College. Retaliation by any party toward any other participating individual in the investigation process will not be tolerated.

11.4.7. Sanctions

A student or employee found in violation of this policy may receive sanctions that include, but are not limited to, those set forth below. Sanctions may be issued individually or in combination. For further clarity on sanctions related to Sexual Violence, please see the Violations of Sexual Violence Matrix in Appendix B.

Students or employees found responsible for violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy may face sanctions up to and including expulsion and/or termination of employment. The appropriate sanctions will be determined by considering the following:

● the severity, nature, and impact of the violation,
● the Respondent's prior conduct history,
● the Respondent's ethical development,
● the on-going risk to the involved individuals and the College community, and
● the educational mission of the institution.

The Title IX Coordinator or designee may deviate from the range of recommended sanctions, based upon a full consideration of the following factors: (1) the Respondent's prior conduct history; (2) how the College has sanctioned similar incidents in the past; (3) the nature and violence of the conduct at issue; (4) the impact of the conduct on the Complainant; (5) the impact of the conduct on the community, its members, or its property; (6) whether the Respondent has accepted responsibility for their actions; (7) whether the Respondent is reasonably likely to engage in the conduct in the future; (8) the need to deter similar conduct by others; and (9) any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances, including the College's values.

The Title IX Coordinator may also consider restorative justice outcomes that, taking into account the safety of the community as a whole, allow a Respondent to learn about the origins of their behavior, their responsibility for this behavior, and how they can change this behavior.

Sanctions that may be imposed under this policy include:

11.4.7.1. Students

Formal Warning: Notice, in writing, that continuation or repetition of prohibited conduct may be cause for additional disciplinary action.

Disciplinary Probation: Exclusion from participation in privileged activities for a specified period of time (privileged activities may include, but are not limited to, elected or appointed Student Voice Association offices, student research, some student employment, and study abroad). Additional restrictions or conditions may also be imposed. Violations of the terms of disciplinary probation or any other College policy violations may result in further disciplinary action.

Restitution: Repayment to the College or to an affected party for damages resulting from a violation of this Code. To enforce this sanction, the College reserves the right to withhold its transcripts and degrees or to deny a student participation in graduation ceremonies and privileged events.

Removal from Campus Housing: Students may be removed from College housing and/or barred from applying for campus housing due to disciplinary violations.

Suspension: Exclusion from College premises, attending classes, and other privileges or activities for a specified period of time, as set forth in the suspension notice. Notice of this action will remain in the student's conduct file. Conditions for readmission may be specified in the suspension notice.

Expulsion: Permanent termination of student status and exclusion from College premises, privileges, and activities. This action will be permanently recorded on the student's academic transcript.

Revocation of Admission and/or Degree: Admission to, or a degree awarded by, the College may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation in obtaining the degree or violation of College policies, or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to enrollment or graduation.

Withholding Degree: The College may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the process set forth in this policy, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.

Other sanctions may be imposed instead of, or in addition to, those specified here. Service, education, or research projects may also be assigned. More than one of the sanctions listed above may be imposed for any single violation.

In cases where suspension, dismissal, or expulsion is assigned as an outcome, the disciplinary action will go into effect at the conclusion of the appeal process, including any modification by the appellate. During the appeals process, a student who was issued suspension, dismissal, or expulsion may continue to attend class, unless otherwise directed, but may be prohibited from participating in, representing the College in or attending extra-curricular, co-curricular, and official College activities, such as Commencement, Study Abroad, and events or performances if it is determined that the health or safety of a student or the community is at risk. Additional interim measures, such as those to ensure the safety of community members, may be put in place until the conclusion of the appeal process as deemed appropriate by the Title IX Coordinator or designee.

11.4.7.2. Employee (Faculty and Staff)

Verbal Warning: A conversation with employee that includes the concern and expectations going forward. The conversation may also include actions or resources by the supervisor or Human Resources to support improved behavior (i.e. training, meetings to discuss progress/challenges, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), etc.). A summary of the conversation is provided to the employee via email.

Written Warning: A document that is provided after a verbal conversation occurred, but the behavior continues. This document will reference previous conversations, additional concerns reported since the last conversation, expectations going forward and any actions or resources provided by the supervisor or Human Resources to support improved behavior. This document states that if the behavior does not significantly and immediately improve and this improvement is not sustained, other actions may take place up to and including termination of employment. The employee will sign the document acknowledging an understanding the content of the document.

Last and Final Warning: A document that is provided after a Written Warning has been delivered, but the behavior continues. This document will reference previous conversations, content of Written Warning, additional concerns reported since the last conversation, expectations going forward, and any actions or resources provided by the supervisor or Human Resources to support improved behavior. This document states that if the behavior does not significantly and immediately improve and is not sustained, other actions may take place up to and including termination of employment. The employee will sign the document acknowledging an understanding the content of the document.

Termination of Employment: Typically, termination of employment is a last resort and occurs after the above listed steps have been carried out. There may be situations that occur that are so severe that deem termination as an appropriate first step.
Please note the above listed steps are considered to be progressive. Depending on the severity of the situation, steps may be skipped or different action may take place.

11.5. Appeals

All requests for appeals must be submitted in writing to the appropriate appellate officer within five (5) business days of the date of the outcome letter. The written appeal will be resolved by either the appropriate appellate officer, or the appropriate appellate panel. To receive consideration, a party's appeal must be full and complete upon its submission, including the basis for appeal and any supporting documentation.

Either the Claimant or Respondent may appeal, but appeals are limited to the following:

● A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the case (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.).
● To consider new evidence, unknown or unavailable during the investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.
● The sanctions fall outside the range of sanctions the College has designated for this offense.

The receipt of the appeal will be acknowledged in writing (which can include email). In cases involving opposing parties, when an appeal is filed the other party will be given the opportunity to review and respond in writing to the appeal. Any response by the opposing party must be submitted to the appellate officer within five (5) business days from receipt of the appeal. The appeals documents from each party will be considered together in one appeal review process. No hearing will be held. The appellate officer or panel will render its decision on the appeal based solely upon the student's written appeal, any response from the other party, and the record of the original investigation. The appellate officer's decision is final, and will be rendered within ten (10) business days of the receipt of the written appeal. In some instances, the appellate officer or panel may request that the case be reopened, in which case the Claimant and Respondent would be notified in person of the decision and the process moving forward.

If none of the above conditions are met, then the original decision will stand. If, however, any of the conditions are found to exist, the appellate officer or panel, will review the appeal and make a determination of the appropriate finding and/or outcome. The appellate officer or panel does not re-hear cases, but rather weighs the merits of the appeal and makes a decision in accordance with the evidence presented in the investigative report and in the appeal materials. All appeal decisions by the appellate officer or panel are final.

11.6. Integrity of Proceedings

These procedures are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings. Neither party may audio nor video record the proceedings, nor is formal legal representation allowed.

11.7. Records

The Title IX Coordinator will retain records of all reports and complaints, regardless of whether the matter is resolved by means of Title IX assessment, informal resolution, or formal resolution. Complaints resolved by means of Title IX assessment or informal resolution are not part of a student's conduct file or academic record or of an employee's personnel record.

Affirmative findings of responsibility in matters resolved through formal resolution are part of a student's conduct record and an employee's personnel record. Such records shall be used in reviewing any further conduct, or developing sanctions, and shall remain a part of a student's conduct record or an employee's personnel record.

Sanctions of termination, suspension, expulsion, and withdrawal pending disciplinary action are permanently noted on transcript or employee record. Such files are maintained by the College indefinitely. Conduct files for those who have not been suspended, expelled, or terminated are maintained for no fewer than seven years from the date of the incident. Further questions about record retention should be directed to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator.

Last Updated 7.12.16

This page was last updated on 10/21/2016.