Northwest College

Policies and Procedures

Sexual Misconduct Policy

Investigation Process

Reports of sexual misconduct at Northwest College are directed to the Title IX Coordinator, who then determines if the report falls under the scope of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. If it does, the Title IX Coordinator initiates an investigation.

MEDIATION OPTION

Only for sexual harassment or sex discrimination reports, the Title IX Coordinator may facilitate resolution through mediation prior to a full investigation if both parties are willing to mediate.

INVESTIGATION OVERVIEW

The Title IX Coordinator appoints an investigator(s) to initiate a fact-finding investigation of the alleged actions. The investigator(s) are specifically trained in sexual misconduct investigations and will conduct investigations in a prompt, impartial, and thorough manner. The initiation of an investigation does not mean there are findings yet. The investigation process provides a basis for determining:

  1. whether or not the conduct occurred
  2. remedies and sanctions to bring resolution to the case

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INVESTIGATORY ACTIONS

An investigation may include, but is not limited to:

  • providing written notification to parties about Title IX rights and options, including existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, student financial aid, and other services available within NWC or the community
  • conducting interviews with the reporting party, the respondent (person the report is about), and any witnesses
    • no individual who is knowingly under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs will be interviewed until such substances are no longer an influence on their mental facilities
  • reviewing law enforcement investigation documents (if applicable)
  • reviewing student files or employee personnel files
  • gathering and examining other relevant documents or evidence

RIGHTS OF THE PARTIES DURING THE INVESTIGATION

Parties are notified in writing (via secure College email, hand-delivered mail, or by postal service mail) of the alleged sexual misconduct and the investigation. Parties have the right to be notified of the time frames of each stage of the investigation.

Throughout the investigation process, both parties have equal opportunity to present relative witnesses and evidence.

If possible, the reporting party is asked to document the date, place, approximate time, and any pertinent descriptive details regarding the alleged sexual misconduct.

During an investigative interview or discipline hearing, both parties may have a person (other than an individual who may be called to provide a witness testimony) to provide support and guidance to the student. The Supporter is not allowed to participate in the questioning or present information. During student discipline proceedings, there is no right to legal representation.

The College uses a preponderance of evidence standard (i.e., more likely than not) to determine responsibility for and resolution of the act. 

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POSSIBLE ADDITIONAL SERVICES TO PARTIES 

During the investigation, the College may need to provide additional services to ensure the safety, physical and/or emotional health, and academic freedom to one or more parties. These services may include, but are not limited to:

  • relocating from one NWC residential facility to another
  • arranging for needed NWC medical and/or counseling services within the ability of those services offered on campus
  • arranging for alternative academic completion (change classes, online completion, etc.)
  • adjusting employment schedules/duties
  • issuing a “no-contact” order to protect the party(s) from potential threats or physical and/or emotional harm
  • providing protective escort service to the reporting party and/or the responding party while attending classes and/or college-related activities during the investigative and resolution process
  • other services deemed necessary by the Title IX Coordinator, Vice President for Student Services, investigatory personnel, and/or other personnel connected with the case

RESOLUTION OF THE REPORTED CASE

After the investigation is complete, the investigator(s) write findings in a report to be presented to the Title IX Coordinator, who then files the report in his/her office. The following resolutions may occur:

  • If the alleged act of sexual misconduct is found not to have merit, the reporting party and the respondent are notified that the allegations have been dismissed
  • If the allegation of sexual misconduct is found to be substantiated (according to the standard of the preponderance of evidence), steps must be taken by the College to end the sexual misconduct, eliminate the hostile environment (if determined to exist), prevent the recurrence, and remedy the situation through sanctions deemed appropriate. The reporting party and respondent are notified of the outcomes

SANCTIONS

If the respondent is found to be responsible (according to the standard of the preponderance of evidence) for an act of sexual misconduct, sanctions may include, but are not limited to, any one or a combination of the following:

  • Warning: an official written or verbal notice to the respondent stating such conduct is in the violation of Northwest College policies. If the conduct or actions continue, the College will take further disciplinary action
  • Disciplinary Probation: may include restrictions involving access to campus facilities, class attendance/academic completion, participation in campus activities, limitations on employment activities and/or relationships, and any other restrictions deemed applicable to the situation. The probation may be for a specific time period and may include specified conditions to be met. At the end of the probationary period, a review of the respondent’s behavior and completion of required conditions may be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee(s) to determine if the respondent shall have any or all restrictions lifted
  • Disciplinary Suspension: could involve suspension from the residence hall and/or physical attendance of classes. This action terminates a respondent’s enrollment and/or residence hall contract without financial reimbursement. The suspension may be for a specific period of time and may be tied to specified conditions to be met. The respondent may apply in writing for reinstatement to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Written proof documentary completion of specified conditions must be provided with the reinstatement application.
  • Mandatory Counseling
  • Expulsion from the College: expulsion is the withdrawal of the privilege of attending the College. There is no promise that the respondent may return to Northwest College at a future time
  • Employee disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment: warnings may be administered and/or contractual commitments are terminated either immediately or within a fixed time to be determined by the appropriate administrative personnel
  • No-contact order: restricts the respondent's ability to communicate with or access College personnel, the reporting party, and/or witnesses
  • Criminal Trespass: the respondent may not enter specified college facilities or property. Trespassing charges will be filed if this sanction is violated
  • Other actions deemed appropriate to bring resolution to the case

DECISION REGARDING APPROPRIATE SANCTIONS: RESOLUTION OF CASE--WITH SANCTIONS

Upon review of the findings of the investigative report, the Title IX Coordinator or designee is responsible for determining the sanctions to be administered in resolution of the case.

The Title IX Coordinator or designee may consult with the Vice President for Student Affairs and/or with other personnel knowledgeable of the specific case or who have professional expertise subject to the decision-making process involved in the case. 

APPEALS

Either party or parties may appeal the outcome or sanctions in writing no more than three (3) college business days after the receipt of the written notice of the outcome. Appeals are to be directed to the Title IX Coordinator. Appeal paperwork needs to be completed and submitted by the party or parties making the appeal; an attorney cannot submit an appeal for the appellant. 

The grounds for appeals are:

  1. New evidence or previously unavailable relevant evidence that could have significant impact on the findings of the investigation and/or deliberations on the hearing board
  2. Procedural and/or substantive errors that substantially compromised the fairness of the hearing
  3. The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation

All sanctions imposed by the Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee shall be in effect during the appeal process.

A request may be made to the Title IX Coordinator or designee for special consideration, but the presumptive stance of the College is that the sanctions stand.

Graduation, study abroad, participation in competitive activities (athletics, forensics, etc.), internships, etc. do NOT in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances and students may not be allowed to participate in those activities during the time of their appeal.

In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the College or of privileges, all reasonable attempts shall be made to restore the student to his/her prior status. However, some opportunities lost may be irretrievable.

APPEALS PROCESS:

 

Upon receipt of the written appeal, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will share the petition for appeal with the other party(s), along with information detailing each party’s rights and the appeals process.

Parties wishing to file a response to the appeals petition must do so in writing to the Title IX Coordinator or designee within three (3) regular College business days from the date they receive notification of the pending appeal. This response will be shared with the other party(s).

After applicable documentation is submitted according to the time frames indicated, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will write a response indicating receipt of the materials within three (3) business days and will send that response to the involved parties.

The appeal petition, responses, and applicable documentation will be forwarded to the Chairperson of the Student Appeals Board (for students) or the Dispute Resolution Officer (for employees) for review to determine if the appeal request meets the limited grounds and time considerations. The following situations may happen:

  • The original findings and any sanction(s) will not change if it is determined that the appeal was not submitted within the time frame required or that the appeal did not meet the requirements stated in the grounds for appeal. This decision (made by the Chairperson of the Student Appeals Board or the Dispute Resolution Officer) is final.
  • If the appeal has merit, the documentation is retained by the Chairperson of the Student Appeals Board/Dispute Resolution Officer to be considered by the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board
  • The Student Appeals Board hears student issues and acts as the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board. For employees, the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board will be formed according to the Grievance Panel selection process provided in the employee Dispute Resolution Policy
  • The Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board must convene and render a decision to be delivered in writing to all parties within seven (7) regular College business days from the date of the receipt of the petition and applicable documentation from the Title IX Coordinator

APPEALS HEARING PROCEDURES

 

The primary focus of the Appeals Hearing is to review the written documentation regarding the grounds for the appeal. All parties are notified of the date, place, and time for the Appeals Hearing and are provided with the appeals petition, responses, and documentation pertinent to the appeal.

An appeal hearing is confidential. Legal counsel cannot represent the Respondent or the Appellant at the hearing. 

The Student Appeals Board or the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board makes decisions regarding the sanctions/previous deliberations only if there is clear error in previous deliberations, presentation of new evidence, or justification for adjustment in the sanctions.

The Board cannot interview or talk to any of the parties involved concerning the appeal or the documentation presented. If the Board has questions or needs clarification about any of the documentation, they shall:

  • Prepare a list of questions or points of clarification about the documentation and present it to the Title IX Coordinator for follow up by the Title IX Coordinator or designee. This information shall be compiled into a written document and presented back to the board. This information will also become part of the compiled appeal packet.
  • The process of the board having questions or needing clarification may extend the time period that the Board has to render a decision on the appeal, but only by the number of days that it takes to complete this action.

APPEALS BOARD DECISIONS

 

If the Sexual Misconduct Appeals Hearing Board determines that new evidence shall be considered, it shall return the report to the Title IX Coordinator for reconsideration in light of the new evidence. This reconsideration decision of the Appeals Board is not appealable.

If the Appeals Board determines that there was a procedural or substantive error in the deliberations involved in determining sanctions, it shall return the complaint to the Title IX Coordinator who shall determine necessary action to correct the error.

If the Appeals Board determines that the sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation, the Board shall return the complaint to the Title IX Coordinator or designee who many increase, decrease, or otherwise modify the sanctions. This action by the Board and the Title IX Coordinator is final.

For more information about the investigation or appeals process, see the NWC Sexual Misconduct Policy.

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