Policy and Procedures

Policy

Oglethorpe University has policies and procedures in place regarding the receipt, investigation, and resolution of complaints of discrimination. The university will initiate a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into allegations of sex or gender-based discrimination. Oglethorpe University is committed to providing all students with an educational environment free from discrimination. We are dedicated to establishing and maintaining a safe and inclusive campus where all members of the community have the right to be free from any form of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual coercion or intimidation, and sexual exploitation.

Oglethorpe University’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct can be found in Section 12.3 of the University Bulletin.

Definitions

Sexual Assault: is actual or attempted sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to:

  • intentional touching of another person’s intimate parts without that person’s consent; or
  • other intentional sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent; or
  • coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force a person to touch another person’s intimate parts without that person’s consent; or
  • rape, which is penetration, no matter how slight, of (1) the vagina or anus of a person by any body part of another person or by an object, or (2) the mouth of a person by a sex organ of another person, without that person’s consent.

Sexual Violence: refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual intimidation and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX. 12.3.1.1.

Sexual Harassment: is conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile working or learning environment or that unreasonably interferes with work or academic performance based on a person’s protected status, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. All such conduct is unlawful. “Sexual Harassment” is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, physical, graphic, or otherwise.

Gender-Based Harassment: is harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal, physical, graphic, or otherwise. To qualify as Gender-Based Harassment, the conduct need not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Stalking: occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. A course of conduct consists of two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which a person directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about another person, or interferes with another person’s property. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the complainant. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Dating Violence: is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the person subjected to such violence. Whether there was such a relationship will be determined based on, among other factors, the complainant’s and respondent’s statements, and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the parties involved in the relationship.

Domestic Violence: is a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by: (1) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; (2) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (3) a person who is cohabiting with, or has cohabited with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; (4) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred; or (5) any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence has occurred.

Sexual Exploitation: occurs when a person takes sexual advantage of another person for the benefit of anyone other than that person without that person’s consent.  Examples of behavior that could rise to the level of sexual exploitation include:

  • Prostituting another person;
  • Recording images (e.g., video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness without that person’s consent;
  • Distributing images (e.g., video, photograph) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness, if the individual distributing the images or audio knows or should have known that the person depicted in the images or audio did not consent to such disclosure and objects to such disclosure; and,(  ?    )

Retaliation: all students and employees are expected to cooperate fully with any investigation under this policy.  The University does not tolerate retaliation or discrimination against any person, and/or their family and friends, who brings forward a complaint, who cooperates in the investigation of a complaint, or who participates in the discipline process for an alleged violation of this policy. The University will not only take steps to prevent retaliation, it will also take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs. Anyone who believes they have been retaliated against as a result of their involvement with an investigation and/or discipline process for an alleged violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct should immediately report the alleged retaliation to the hearing coordinator or Title IX Coordinator.  An independent investigation will be conducted and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the University, in the case of a student, and up to and including termination of employment, in the case of an employee.

Complainant: The complainant is a person who makes a complaint of an alleged violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct. 12.3.7.2

Respondent: The respondent is a person who has been charged with an alleged violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct. 12.3.7.5

Witnesses: The complainant and respondent may submit the names of unlimited witnesses to the investigator. The accounts of witnesses interviewed will be included in the investigation report. At the hearing, witnesses may be called to sit before the panel. If called, witnesses shall be in the hearing room only during the time they are speaking. Witnesses will answer questions from the hearing panel, the complainant, and the respondent. Written notification will be sent to the witnesses informing them of the date, time and location of the hearing. If there is good reason they cannot attend, the hearing coordinator may submit questions to them in advance for written response.  12.3.7.6

Advisor: Both the complainant and the respondent involved in a discipline case alleging a violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct have the right to an advisor of their choosing.  Members of the hearing panel or those who will be serving as witnesses in the case may not serve as an advisor.  The role of the advisor throughout the process and during the hearing is to provide support and advice to the student.  Advisors may not speak to the hearing panel or ask questions of the other parties or witnesses.  At the student’s request, the advisor may be present any time their advisee is meeting with the hearing panel or other member of the University staff regarding the discipline case.  The advisor may not speak on behalf of the student; the student must speak on their own behalf.  The advisor must maintain the confidentiality of the entire discipline process. The Title IX Coordinator is able to connect complainants and respondents to faculty and staff advisors at the students’ request. Proceedings will not be rescheduled to accommodate an advisor.  12.3.7

Advocate: Both the complainant and the respondent involved in a discipline case alleging a violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct have the right to an advocate.  The advocate is an Oglethorpe faculty or staff member trained in the policies and procedures of the university. The role of the advocate throughout the process and during the hearing is to provide support and advice to the student.  Advocates may not speak to the hearing panel or ask questions of the other parties or witnesses.  At the student’s request, the advocate may be present any time their advisee is meeting with the hearing panel or other member of the University staff regarding the discipline case.  The advocate may not speak on behalf of the student; the student must speak on their own behalf.  The advocate must maintain the confidentiality of the entire discipline process. The Title IX Coordinator will provide the complainants and respondents with choices for an advocate.

Investigator: Dean of Students or other trained designee who will conduct the investigation. The Title IX Coordinator will share the investigators name and contact information with the complainant and the respondent and will forward the complaint and any other relevant information to the investigator.

Hearing Coordinator: The hearing coordinator is the chief conduct officer, or their designee. The hearing coordinator’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, convening and chairing the hearing panel, communicating with the parties about the date, time, and location of the hearing, disseminating the panel’s decisions, and facilitating any appeal. The hearing coordinator ensures that the process and procedures are followed and rights and responsibilities of those involved in the hearing process are respected. The hearing coordinator is present during hearing panel deliberations, but does not have a vote.

Hearing Panel: The hearing panel hears complaints of alleged violations of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct, makes determinations of responsibility in such cases, and determines sanctions, if applicable.  A hearing panel is composed of three members of the Oglethorpe University nonstudent community that are a part of the Faculty-Staff Judicial Board.  Potential panel members may be excused from a hearing in the event of a conflict of interest, lack of availability, or other valid reason, as determined by the hearing coordinator.

Procedures

The University investigates all claims of discrimination, including sexual harassment, violence or misconduct. Disciplinary procedures involving allegations of sex discrimination will be conducted promptly and will be thorough, equitable, and impartial. The standard of proof in such disciplinary proceedings shall be that of the preponderance of the evidence, which is based upon whether it is more likely than not that a violation occurred. Refer to The Bulletin, Section 12.3.9 for further information and Section 12.3.7 for the Definition of Roles.

Interim measures:

The Title IX Coordinator will respond with prompt and equitable action that can include interim measures, such as a “no contact” order. Both the complainant and respondent will have the option of changing on-campus residence and/or an adjustment to their academic schedule, if such changes are reasonably available.

Initial meeting with Title IX Coordinator or designee:

The complainant and the respondent will both have the opportunity to meet with the Title IX Coordinator to discuss the investigation process; receive their Statement of Rights and ask any questions they may have. Once the initial meeting(s) has taken place, the Title IX Coordinator will assign the case to the Dean of Students or other trained designee for investigation. All investigations will be kept as confidential as possible and any information gathered during the investigation is disclosed only on a “need to know” basis. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator creates a Report of Investigation. 

The Title IX Coordinator shall review the Report of Investigation. If a determination is made that the available information will not support a violation, then the respondent will not be charged and the complainant and respondent will simultaneously be provided written notice of that determination.

If the Title IX Coordinator determines that there is sufficient information that a respondent may have committed a violation of this Policy, then the Title IX Coordinator refers the matter to the hearing coordinator, who will then begin the process of convening a hearing panel.

Definitions of Roles

12.3.7.1. Advisor

Both the complainant and the respondent involved in a discipline case alleging a violation of the policy on sexual misconduct have the right to an advisor of their choosing. Members of the hearing panel or those who will be serving as witnesses in the case may not serve as an advisor. The role of the advisor throughout the process and during the hearing is to provide support and advice to the student. Advisors may not speak to the hearing panel or ask questions of the other parties or witnesses. At the student’s request, the advisor may be present any time their advisee is meeting with the hearing panel or other member of the University staff regarding the discipline case. The advisor may not speak on behalf of the student; the student must speak on their own behalf. The advisor must maintain the confidentiality of the entire discipline process. Proceedings will not be rescheduled to accommodate an advisor.

12.3.7.2. Advocate

The University will provide both the complainant and the respondent with an advocate who is trained in Title IX matters and is knowledgeable about the policies and procedures set forth in this policy. The Title IX coordinator will connect complainants and respondents to faculty and staff advocates. Complainant and/or Respondent may choose not to utilize the advocate. Advocates may not speak to the hearing panel or ask questions of the other parties or witnesses. At the student’s request, the advocate may be present any time their advisee is meeting with the hearing panel or other member of the University staff regarding the discipline case. The advocate may not speak on behalf of the student; the student must speak on their own behalf. The advocate must maintain the confidentiality of the entire discipline process.

12.3.7.3. Complainant

The complainant is a person who makes a complaint of an alleged violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct.

12.3.7.4. Conduct Officer

At various places throughout this policy there will be references to a “conduct officer.” In this context, “conduct officer” means either the chief conduct officer or an individual who, by virtue of previous training concerning the policy on sexual misconduct, is qualified to substitute for the chief conduct officer.

12.3.7.5. Hearing Coordinator

The hearing coordinator is a conduct officer. The hearing coordinator’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, convening and chairing the hearing panel, communicating with the parties about the date, time, and location of the hearing, disseminating the panel’s decisions, and facilitating any appeal. The hearing coordinator ensures that the process and procedures are followed and rights and responsibilities of those involved in the hearing process are respected. The hearing coordinator is present during hearing panel deliberations, but does not have a vote.

12.3.7.6. Hearing Panel

The hearing panel hears complaints of alleged violations of the policy on sexual misconduct, makes determinations of responsibility in such cases, and determines sanctions, if applicable. A hearing panel is composed of three members of the Oglethorpe University nonstudent community who have been trained in Title IX matters and who serve on the faculty-staff judicial board. Potential panel members may be excused from a hearing in the event of a conflict of interest, lack of availability, or other valid reason, as determined by the hearing coordinator.

12.3.7.7. Investigator

The investigator is a trained employee who is responsible for interviewing the complainant, respondent and witnesses. The investigator gathers all evidence and assembles an investigation report that is provided to the hearing panel.

12.3.7.8. Respondent

The respondent is a person who has been charged with an alleged violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct.

12.3.7.9. Witnesses

The complainant and respondent may submit the names of unlimited witnesses to the investigator. The accounts of witnesses interviewed will be included in the investigation report. At the hearing, witnesses may be called to sit before the panel. If called, witnesses shall be in the hearing room only during the time they are speaking. Witnesses will answer questions from the hearing panel, the complainant, and the respondent. Written notification will be sent to the witnesses informing them of the date, time and location of the hearing. If there is good reason they cannot attend, the hearing coordinator may submit questions to them in advance for written response.

12.3.7.10. Confidential Resources

Employees and officials at the University are responsible employees and required to report incidents of sexual misconduct. Students age 18 or older seeking confidential resources may consult with the University counseling center. In the State of Georgia licensed counselors and clergy are the only parties that may be allowed to maintain confidentiality.