Definitions
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Sexual Harassment:  Unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives someone of the ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program. The unwelcome behavior may be based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation.  Examples include: an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to egregious, unwanted sexual attention; to punish a refusal to comply; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence; intimate partner violence, stalking, and gender-based bullying.

Discrimination:  Any distinction, preference, advantage for or detriment to an individual compared to others that is based upon an individual’s actual or perceived gender, race, color, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, pregnancy status, religion, or sexual orientation that is so severe, persistent or prevalent that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program or activities.

Discriminatory Harassment:  Detrimental action based on an individual’s actual or perceived gender, race, color, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, pregnancy status, religion, sexual orientation or other protected status that is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program or activities.

Retaliatory Harassment:  Intentional action taken by an accused individual or allied third party, absent legitimate non-discriminatory purposes, that harms an individual as reprisal for filing or participating in a civil rights grievance proceeding.

Sexual Harassment of student by another student:  Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a student toward another student that is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program or activities.

Sexual Harassment of a faculty/staff member by a student:  Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed toward a faculty/staff member by a student that is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with employment or living conditions or deprives the individual of employment access or benefits.

Sexual Harassment of a student by a faculty/staff member: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a faculty or staff member toward a student are held to constitute sexual harassment when:

  • Submission to such sexual conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of rating an individual’s educational development or performance; or
  • Such conduct is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program or activities.

While a particular interaction must be offensive to both a reasonable person and to the victim to be defined as harassment, faculty and staff members and other persons of authority should be sensitive to questions about mutuality of consent that may be raised, and to the conflicts of interest that are inherent in personal relationships that result from professional and educational interactions. Harassment is particularly damaging when it exploits the educational dependence and trust between students and faculty/staff. When the authority and power inherent in faculty/staff relationships with students, whether overtly, implicitly, or through misinterpretation, is abused in any way, there is potentially great damage to the individual student, to the accused individual, and to the climate of the institution.

Complaints concerning discrimination and/or harassment:  The university does not permit discrimination or harassment in its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or any other characteristic protected by institutional policy or state, local, or federal law.  Students who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy should follow the procedure outlined in this Code to report these concerns.

This process involves an immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the non-discrimination policy has been violated.  If so, the university will initiate a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation. This investigation is designed to provide a fair and reliable determination about whether the university’s non-discrimination policy has been violated. If so, the university will implement a prompt and effective remedy designed to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.

Students who wish to report a concern or complaint relating to discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct may do so by reporting the concern to the university’s Title IX Coordinator:

Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs
102 Bibb Graves Hall

700 Pelham Road North
Jacksonville, AL  36265
256.782.5020

Individuals with complaints of this nature also always have the right to file a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education:

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20202-1100
Customer Service Hotline 800.421.3481
Fax 202.453.6012
TDD: 877.521.2172
Email: OCR@ed.gov
Web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr

Formal and informal grievance procedure for student complaints
This procedure is intended to apply to student grievances against employees, employee civil rights grievances against students, student-on-student civil rights grievances, student grievances against visitors or guests, and guest or visitor grievances against students. All other grievances by students against students will be addressed through the student code of conduct procedures as outlined in the student handbook

In the event that an employee is taking classes, or should a student also be an employee (e.g., work study, Graduate Assistant, Resident Assistant), procedures applicable to employee-on-employee grievances through the Department of Human Resources may also be applicable. It is the practice of JSU to bring employee and student grievance mechanisms together for joint resolution in such cases. Sanctions may result in an individual’s capacity as a student, as an employee, or both.

Informal dispute resolution efforts:  A useful first step before filing formal complaints
Before pursuing the formal complaint process, every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve issues with faculty, staff, or administrators, including following procedures for formal appeal. Whenever possible and safe, the problem or complaint should first be discussed with the individual involved in the complaint. If satisfactory resolution is not reached after discussion with the individual, the student should contact the individual’s direct supervisor to attempt to resolve the complaint. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the formal complaint process may be initiated. The university does not require a student to contact the person involved or that person’s supervisor if doing so is impracticable, or if the student believes that the conduct cannot be effectively addressed through informal means.

Formal grievance process
The Title IX Coordinator is formally designated to respond to concerns, complaints, and grievances regarding sexual misconduct.  Notice of formal complaint can be made in person to an appropriate official (President, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Judicial Coordinator, University Police, Athletic Director and Human Resources), but students are strongly encouraged to submit grievances in writing or by email with attachment to the Title IX Coordinator, 102 Bibb Graves Hall, 256.782.5020 or tbking@jsu.edu.

The grievance should clearly and concisely describe the alleged incident(s), when and where it occurred, and the desired remedy sought. The grievance should be signed by the initiator or, in the case of an email submission, sent as an email attachment in letter format, and should contain the name and all contact information for the grievant.  Any supporting documentation and evidence should be referenced within the body of the formal grievance.  Additionally, the initiator of a formal grievance should submit any supporting materials in writing as quickly as is practicable.

The grievant’s supporting documentation should clearly demonstrate all informal efforts, if any, to resolve the issue(s) with the person involved and the person’s supervisor. This includes names, dates, and times of attempted or actual contact, along with a description of the discussion and the manner of communication made in the course of each effort.  If contacting the person involved and/or the supervisor is impractical, the grievant should state the reasons why.

Upon receipt of a grievance, the Title IX Coordinator will open a formal case file and coordinate any interim action, accommodations for the alleged victim, or other necessary remedial short-term actions.

The Title IX Coordinator with then take the following steps:

  • Implement any initial remedial actions
  • Determine the identity and contact information of the complainant
  • Conduct immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the accused individual, and what policy violations should be alleged as part of the complaint.
    • If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the grievance will be closed with no further action.
  • Meet with the complainant to finalize the complaint and prepare and deliver the notice of investigation.
  • Commence a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the accused individual, who may be given notice of charges prior to or at the time of the interview.
  • Complete the investigation promptly, and without reasonable deviation from the intended timeline.
  • Make a finding, based on a preponderance of evidence.
  • Present the findings to the accused individual who may accept the findings, accept the findings in part and reject them in part, or may reject all findings.
  • Share the findings and update the complainant on the status of the investigation and the outcome.

When the accused individual is found not responsible for the alleged violation(s), the investigation should be closed.  When the accused individual accepts the finding that they violated university policy, the Title IX Coordinator will impose appropriate sanctions. The university will act to end the sexual misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the university community.

In the event that the accused individual rejects the findings in part or entirely, the Title IX Coordinator will forward the case to the Judicial Coordinator who will convene a hearing to determine whether the accused individual is in violation of the sexual misconduct policy. At the hearing, the findings of the investigation will be admitted, but are not binding on the decider(s) of fact. The hearing will determine whether it is more likely than not that the accused individual violated the sexual misconduct policy. The goal of the hearing is to provide an equitable resolution via an equitable process, respecting the civil and legal rights of all participants.

When an accused individual is found in violation, the Judicial Coordinator will impose appropriate sanctions. The university will act to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the university community. If the accused individual disagrees with the Judicial Coordinator’s decision and/or the sanctions imposed, they may appeal to the Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.  If the accused individual disagrees with the decison of the Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, they may appeal to the President.  The President’s decision is final.

Elaboration on student participation in the grievance process
The Title IX Coordinator will contact or request a meeting with the initiator of the formal grievance, and the complainant (if different people). The Title IX Coordinator also may contact or request a meeting with relevant university staff, students, or others as part of the investigation. The complainant may request to meet and discuss the allegations of the grievance with the case officers and may offer any documentation, witnesses, or other materials in support of the complaint. The complainant has the option to have an advocate during a meeting with the Title IX Coordinator to discuss documentation submitted by the student in support of the grievance. 

The complainant must advise the Title IX Coordinator of the identity of an advocate or witness at least two (2) business days before the date of the meeting with the Title IX Coordinator. During a meeting with the Title IX Coordinator, an attorney acting as a lawyer may not serve as the student’s advocate or formally represent the student. An attorney may be present and may give advice to the complainant, but the attorney is not allowed to speak for the complainant. These procedures are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings. No audio or video recording of any kind other than as required by institutional procedure is permitted. The Title IX Coordinator may remove anyone disrupting the meeting from the discussion. All these same opportunities and privileges extend to all parties to the complaint.

Time frame and grounds for filing an appeal request
The decision of the Judicial Coordinator may be appealed by petitioning the Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs to appoint a committee to review the decision. All sanctions imposed by the Judicial Coordinator will be in effect during the appeal. In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term.

The decision of the Judicial Coordinator may be appealed by petitioning. Accused individuals or complainants must petition within three to five business days of receiving the written decision for a review of the decision or the sanctions imposed.  Any party that files an appeal must do so in writing to the Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.  The Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs will share the appeal with the other party (e.g., if the accused individual appeals, the appeal is shared with the complainant, who may also wish to file a response), and then the Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs will draft a response memorandum (also shared with all parties). All appeals and responses are then forwarded to the Appeals Committee for initial review to determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and is timely. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision can be appealed to the President. If the appeal has standing, the documentation is forwarded for consideration. The party requesting appeal must show error as the original finding and sanctions are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The only grounds for appeal are as follows:

  1. A procedural [or substantive error] occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantial bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.).
  2. To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.
  3. The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.

If the Appeals Committee determines that new evidence should be considered, it will return the complaint to the Title IX Coordinator to reconsider in light of new evidence only

If the Appeals Committee determines that a material procedural [or substantive] error occurred, it may return the complaint to the Judicial Coordinator with instructions to reconvene to cure the error.  In rare cases, where the procedural [or substantive] error cannot be cured by the Judicial Coordinator (as in cases of bias), the appeals committee may order a new hearing on the complaint with the Judicial Coordinator. The results of a reconvened hearing can be appealed to the President only. 

If the Appeals Committee determines that the sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation, the appeals officer or committee will return the complaint to the Judicial Coordinator who may then increase, decrease or otherwise modify the sanctions. This decision may be appealed to the President.

The procedures governing the hearing of appeals include the following:

  • All parties should be timely informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision.
  • Every opportunity to return the appeal to the Title IX Coordinator for reconsideration should be pursued.
  • Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the complaint.  In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal.
  • This is not an opportunity for the Appeals Committee to substitute their judgment for that of the original hearing body merely because they disagree with its finding and/or sanctions. Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original hearing body, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error, and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so.
  • Sanctions imposed are implemented immediately unless the Judicial Coordinator stays implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal.
  • The Appeals Committee will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within seven (7) business days from hearing of the appeal. The committee’s decision can be appealed to the President.

Special grievance process provisions

  1. University as complainant

As necessary, the university reserves the right to initiate a complaint, to serve as complainant, and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the victim of misconduct.

  1. False reports

The university will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents.  It is a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.

  1. Immunity for victims and witnesses

The university community encourages the reporting of sexual misconduct policy violations by victims and witnesses.  Sometimes, victims or witnesses are hesitant to report to university officials or participate in grievance processes because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking, at the time of the incident. It is in the best interest of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to university officials, and that witnesses come forward to share what they know. To encourage reporting, the university pursues a policy of offering victims of sexual misconduct and witnesses limited immunity from being charged for policy violations related to the sexual misconduct incident. While violations cannot be overlooked, the university will, if appropriate, provide educational rather than punitive responses, in such cases.

  1. Bystander engagement

The welfare of students in our community is of paramount importance.  At times, students on and off campus may need assistance. The university encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student that has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a sexual misconduct victim to the University Police). The university pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who offer to help others in need. While policy violations cannot be overlooked, the university will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.

  1. Parental notification

The university reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status, or conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations.  The university may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations. Where a student is not dependent, the university will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is significant health and safety risk. The university also reserves the right to designate which university officials have a need to know about individual conduct complaints pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

  1. Notification of outcomes

The outcome of a campus hearing is part of the educational record of the accused individual, and is protected from release under federal law, FERPA. However, the university observes the legal exceptions as follows:

  • Complaints in non-consensual sexual contact/intercourse incidents have an absolute right to be informed of the outcome, essential findings, and sanctions of the hearing, in writing, without condition or limitation. Complaints in a sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, relationship violence and any other gender-based offense have an absolute right to be informed of the outcome, in writing, and to be informed of any sanctions that directly relate to them, and to essential findings supporting the outcome when the outcome is one of violation and/or is equitable to share the essential findings with all parties.
  • The university may release publicly the name, nature of the violation, and the sanction for any student that is found in violation of the sexual misconduct policy. The university will release this information to the complainant in any of these offenses regardless of the outcome.
  1. Alternative testimony options

For sexual misconduct complaints, and other complaints of a sensitive nature, whether the alleged victim is serving as the complainant or as a witness, alternative testimony options will be given, such as placing a privacy screen in the hearing room, or allowing the alleged victim to testify outside the physical presence of the accused individual, via Skype or similar.  While these options are intended to make the alleged victim more comfortable, they are not intended to work to disadvantage the accused individual.

  1. Past sexual history/character

The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be admissible by the other party in the investigation or hearing unless such information is determined to be highly relevant by the Title IX Coordinator. All such information sought to be admitted will be presumed irrelevant, and any request to overcome this presumption by the parties must be included in the complaint/response or a subsequent written request, and must be reviewed in advance of the hearing by the Title IX Coordinator. While previous conduct violations by the accused individual are not generally admissible as information about the present alleged violation, the Title IX Coordinator may consider it only if:

  • The accused was previously found to be responsible.
  • The previous incident was substantially similar to the present allegation.
  • Information indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern by the accused individual.

If you have any questions regarding any item specified in this policy, please contact the Title IX Coordinator, 102 Bibb Graves Hall, 256.782.5020 or tbking@jsu.edu

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