Syracuse University (“University”) is committed to providing a prompt, thorough, and equitable response to reports of Prohibited Conduct under the Syracuse Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy. These procedures apply to the conduct of University staff members, including part-time and temporary employees (except to the extent any provision of a collective bargaining agreement conflicts with these procedures). These procedures do not apply to faculty.
These procedures encompass Prohibited Conduct that occurs: 1) within the University’s Education Program or Activity within the United States; 2) outside the United States, but still in an Education Program or Activity; and, 3) under certain circumstances outside of the Education Program or Activity but within the scope of conduct regulated by the University w. The intake, investigation, hearing and appeal process are the same for all forms of Prohibited Conduct. The informal and formal resolution processes outlined in these procedures follow the final Title IX regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in May 2020. These procedures apply to all complaints of Prohibited Conduct received by the University on or after August 14, 2020, regardless of when the conduct occurred.
Any person may make a report of Prohibited Conduct to the Title IX Coordinator or an appropriate designee (in any particular case, the Title IX Coordinator may delegate their authority pursuant to these procedures to another appropriate University representative). The University will treat Complainants and Respondents equitably by offering Supportive Measures to a Complainant, and by following a resolution process that complies with the Title IX regulations before the imposition of any disciplinary sanction against a Respondent.
Upon receipt of a report of Prohibited Conduct, the matter may be resolved through:
- Provision of Supportive Measures only;
- Pursuing a formal resolution process, which is initiated by the filing of a Formal Complaint, and involves an investigation, hearing, and appeal;
- Pursing an informal resolution process, after the filing of a Formal Complaint, which requires the consent of the Complainant, the Respondent, and the University; or
- Dismissal of a Formal Complaint.
All time frames mentioned throughout these processes are approximate, and may be extended for good cause with written notice to the parties. Good cause may include considerations such as the absence of a party or witness; concurrent law enforcement activity or criminal proceedings; the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities; or other considerations that impact the timing of the investigation, hearing or appeal.
To make a report or file a Formal Complaint against a University staff member alleging Prohibited Conduct under the University’s Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy, an individual should contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator at 315.443.0211, 005 Steele Hall, or email@example.com. Confidential Resources are also available as described in the Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy.
To file a criminal complaint, an individual should contact the Department of Public Safety at 315.443.2224 or 005 Sims Hall, or contact the Syracuse Police Department at 911 (in an emergency) or 315.435.3016.
The University responds to reports of Prohibited Conduct discreetly and attempts to maintain privacy throughout the investigatory process, to the extent practicable and appropriate under the circumstances. However, in order to conduct an investigation, it is generally necessary to discuss the allegations with the person(s) responding to the allegations and other witnesses. Additionally, the University may have legal obligations to disclose information to law enforcement or in the context of legal proceedings.
The term “Complainant” refers to an individual who is reported to have experienced prohibited conduct, regardless of whether the individual makes a report or seeks disciplinary action. Although the University reserves the right to initiate a Formal Complaint under this process, the term “Complainant” refers to the individual who is reported to have experienced the Prohibited Conduct. The term “Respondent” refers to an individual who has been accused of Prohibited Conduct. An individual may make a report to the University, to law enforcement, to neither, or to both. In particular, a Complainant has the right to report, or decline to report, potential criminal conduct to law enforcement.
If a Complainant also chooses to file a criminal report with law enforcement, the University will not unduly delay its investigation unless requested to do so by the appropriate legal authorities. The University will comply with law enforcement agency requests for cooperation. This may require the University to temporarily suspend the fact-finding portion of an investigation while the law enforcement agency gathers evidence. The University will promptly resume its investigation as soon as notified by the law enforcement agency that it has completed the evidence gathering process. The University may be required to proceed with an investigation or hearing prior to resolution of an associated criminal matter.
II. Intake and Outreach
Upon receipt of a report of potential Prohibited Conduct from a Complainant, Responsible Employee, or other individual, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will promptly – typically within 48 hours – contact the reporting individual to request a meeting to gather supplemental information (if any) and explain the University’s processes. If the reporting individual is a potential Complainant (the individual who is reported to have experienced Prohibited Conduct), the outreach will also cover reasonably available Supportive Measures (available with or without filing a Formal Complaint); the process for filing a Formal Complaint; the Complainant’s right to report the alleged conduct to law enforcement (either on campus or off); the difference between privacy and confidentiality; and the right to be protected from Retaliation.
In addition to the initial conversation and any subsequent meeting with the Complainant, the University will provide the Complainant with written information about resources, procedural options, including local law enforcement resources as applicable, and reasonably available Supportive Measures. This written information will include a notification about the process for seeking disability-based accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As part of Intake and Outreach, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will:
- Promptly contact the Complainant to discuss the availability of Supportive Measures;
- Consider the Complainant’s wishes with respect to Supportive Measures;
- Assess the nature and circumstances of the report;
- Address immediate physical safety and well-being of the Complainant or other campus community members;
- Discuss the Complainant’s expressed preference for manner of resolution and any barriers to proceeding;
- Notify the Complainant of the right to contact or decline to contact law enforcement, and if requested, assist them with notifying law enforcement;
- Notify the Complainant of the availability of medical and counseling resources to address physical and mental health concerns and to preserve evidence;
- Notify the Complainant of the importance of preservation of evidence;
- Enter the report into the University’s Daily Crime Log if required by the Clery Act;
- Assess the reported conduct for the need for a timely warning under the Clery Act;
- Provide the Complainant with information about on- and off-campus resources;
- Provide the Complainant with a copy of the Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy and relevant procedures and an explanation of the procedural options, including seeking Supportive Measures and the process for filing a Formal Complaint;
- Inform the Complainant that they may seek an advisor of their choosing to assist them throughout the investigation and resolution of the report, that the advisor may accompany them to any meeting or proceeding under this process, and that the University will provide an advisor, without fee or charge, to conduct questioning on behalf of the party at the hearing if they do not have an advisor;
- Assess for evidence of a pattern or other similar conduct by the Respondent; and
- Explain the University’s prohibition against Retaliation.
III. Supportive Measures
Upon receipt of a report of Prohibited Conduct, regardless of whether a Complainant chooses to pursue a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will provide Supportive Measures, as reasonable, available, and appropriate. Respondents are also eligible for Supportive Measures as reasonable, available, and appropriate.
Supportive Measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to a Complainant or Respondent, before or after the filing of a Formal Complaint or where no Formal Complaint has been filed. Such measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to the University’s Education Program or Activity without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the campus community, or deter Prohibited Conduct. Supportive Measures may include counseling, extensions of deadlines or other work-related adjustments, modifications of work schedules, campus escort services, mutual restrictions on contact between the parties (also known as No Contact Orders), changes in work locations, leaves of absence, increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus, and other similar measures. Additional relief such as protective orders may be available through the criminal and/or family court process.
Individuals may contact the Title IX Coordinator at 315.443.0211 or TitleIX@syr.edu to discuss or request Supportive Measures. The University will maintain as confidential any Supportive Measures provided to a Complainant or Respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the University to provide the Supportive Measures.
Complainants and Respondents will, upon request and consistent with these procedures, be afforded a prompt review, reasonable under the circumstances, of the need for and terms of any Supportive Measures that directly affect them, and shall be allowed to submit evidence in support of their request. For example, a staff member may request rescission of a No Contact Order by demonstrating it is not necessary or productive. Complainants and Respondents should request further review of Supportive Measures—either the granting or denial of such measures—by contacting Human Resources.
The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will document each report or request for assistance, including requests for Supportive Measures, as well as the response to any such report or request.
IV. Administrative Leave Assessment
Based on the initial reported facts, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee), together with Human Resources, and in consultation with safety or legal experts as needed, will determine whether to place a staff respondent on administrative leave during the pendency of an investigation or hearing process for health, safety, or operational reasons. In addition, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) may refer the incident to the University’s Threat Assessment Management Team (“TAMT”) to conduct an individualized safety and risk analysis to determine whether the Respondent poses an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any member of the campus community arising from the alleged conduct. If the TAMT determines the Respondent poses an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any individual, the TAMT may recommend emergency removal or other safety measures. Staff can challenge an administrative leave or an emergency removal by writing to the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer within five (5) business days of the date of the removal communication.
V. Preliminary Inquiry
Upon receipt of a report of Prohibited Conduct, the Title IX Coordinator (or a designee) will conduct a preliminary inquiry of the facts to determine whether the University must take any other actions, beyond those described in the outreach and Supportive Measures section above, including whether the Title IX Coordinator must initiate a Formal Complaint and investigation. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will first determine whether the reported conduct falls within the scope and jurisdiction of the Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy, and more specifically, within the jurisdiction of the Title IX regulations.
Based on reasonably available information at the time of intake, the Title IX Coordinator’s inquiry will include assessing whether:
- The reported conduct occurred within the University’s Education Program or Activity, meaning,
- The University has substantial control over the Respondent; and
- The University has substantial control over the context in which the conduct is reported to have occurred; or
2. The conduct occurred in a building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the University;
3. The reported conduct occurred in the United States;
4. The facts set forth by the report, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of Title IX Sexual Harassment as defined by the Title IX regulations; and
5. The facts set forth by the report, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of other Prohibited Conduct as defined by the Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy.
The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will provide written notice to the Complainant summarizing their conclusions from the preliminary inquiry and outlining next steps in the process.
VI. Formal Complaint
The formal resolution process (investigation, hearing and appeal process) is initiated by the filing of a Formal Complaint. A Formal Complaint is a document submitted to the Title IX Coordinator by the Complainant alleging that a Respondent engaged in Prohibited Conduct and requesting an investigation. The Formal Complaint may be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail, using the Formal Complaint form. The Complainant may also contact the Title IX Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org directly for assistance. The Title IX Coordinator also has the discretion to file a Formal Complaint on behalf of a Complainant or the University.
The University endeavors to respect the wishes of a Complainant to not pursue a Formal Complaint, to not be identified and/or to not participate in the process. Where possible, the University attempts to address complaints in accordance with the Complainant’s wishes. However, the University may not always be able to do so, and may be limited in its ability to address incidents of Prohibited Conduct without full participation by a Complainant.
In evaluating the appropriate manner of resolution, including whether the Title IX Coordinator will file a Formal Complaint in the absence of a Formal Complaint by the Complainant, the Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with subject-matter experts as needed, will consider the following factors:
- The seriousness, persistence or pervasiveness of the reported conduct;
- Whether the Respondent has a history of violent behavior or there have been other complaints or reports of harassment, misconduct or Prohibited Conduct against the Respondent;
- Whether the incident represents escalation in conduct on behalf of the Respondent from previously noted behavior;
- Whether the circumstances suggest there is an increased risk of the Respondent committing additional acts of sexual violence or other violence, including but not limited to reported threats of sexual violence or other violence by the Respondent against the Complainant or others;
- Whether the Respondent reportedly used a weapon or force;
- Whether the conduct was reportedly committed by multiple individuals;
- Whether the Complainant is a minor;
- Whether the Respondent is an employee;
- Whether the institution possesses other competent means to obtain relevant evidence; and
- Any other relevant information as determined by the Title IX Coordinator or their designee.
In order to protect the community, the University may be obligated to investigate and adjudicate serious incidents even when the Complainant would prefer otherwise. A Complainant may withdraw a Formal Complaint at any time, but the University may be compelled to continue the associated investigation or conduct process. The University reserves the right to take action in response to any incident that comes to its attention. The assessment of whether a Formal Complaint must be initiated will typically be concluded within fifteen (15) business days.
The University may consolidate Formal Complaints against more than one Respondent, or by more than one Complainant against one or more Respondents, or by one party against the other party, where the allegations arise out of the same facts or circumstances.
VII. Dismissal of Formal Complaint
The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will determine whether the conduct alleged in the Formal Complaint falls within the scope of the policy and the definition of Prohibited Conduct. The Title IX regulations require the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) to notify the parties in writing that the University is dismissing some or all of the allegations in the Formal Complaint related to Title IX Sexual Harassment as defined by the Title IX regulations if: 1) the conduct alleged, even if substantiated, would not constitute Title IX Sexual Harassment as defined in the Title IX regulations; 2) the conduct did not occur within the University’s Education Program or Activity; or, 3) the conduct did not occur against a person in the United States. This means that the University may be required by law to dismiss some or all of the allegations in the Formal Complaint under Title IX and provide a Complainant the opportunity to appeal that dismissal.
However, where the allegations in the Formal Complaint include other forms of Prohibited Conduct, the conduct occurs outside of the United States, or the conduct is not within the Education Program or Activity (but still within the scope of conduct regulated by the University), these procedures will still apply and the allegations may proceed to the formal resolution process set forth below.
In addition to mandatory dismissal, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) may dismiss the Formal Complaint or any allegations therein if: 1) the Complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that they would like to withdraw the Formal Complaint or any allegation therein; 2) the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the University; or 3) specific circumstances prevent the University from gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination on the merits.
The decision about whether to dismiss a Formal Complaint, in whole or in part, may be made at any time in the process and will be communicated to all parties in writing. Either party may appeal the decision to dismiss the Formal Complaint to the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, whose decision on these matters will be final.
Staff members participating in any University process for responding to a report or Formal Complaint of Prohibited Conduct may be advised by an advisor of their choice—including an attorney—throughout all phases of the process, including at interviews, other meetings, or hearings. Advisors must be respectful to parties, witnesses, and University administrators. Any advisor who fails to conform their behavior to these requirements or whose conduct interferes with the integrity and decorum of the process may be removed from the proceedings and barred from acting as an advisor in future University proceedings. In such circumstances the University will determine whether to proceed with the meeting at issue without the presence of the advisor.
If a Complainant or Respondent does not have an advisor present at a live hearing (see the Formal Complaint process below for more information on live hearings), the University will provide an advisor free of charge to the party for the sole purpose of facilitating questioning on the party’s behalf of other parties and witnesses.
IX. Processes for Formal and Informal Resolution
A. Formal Resolution Process
- What follows in this sub-section is the process the University will use to respond to Formal Complaints of Prohibited Conduct lodged against staff.
- Notice of Investigation: The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will provide written notice of the Formal Complaint to all known parties. The written notice will include, at a minimum, (a) a link to, or copy of, these procedures; (b) details regarding the identities of the parties, date, time and location, and nature of the reported conduct; (c) the potential policy violations; (d) the name of the investigator; (e) how to challenge participation by the investigator on the basis of conflict of interest or bias; (f) a statement that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the Formal Complaint process; (g) the parties’ rights to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice throughout the process (see section on Advisors above); (h) the importance of preserving any potentially relevant evidence; (i) information about the parties’ rights and responsibilities; and (j) prohibition against making false statements during the process. If the investigation reveals the existence of additional potential policy violations, the University will issue a supplemental notice of investigation. This initial notice, and any supplemental notices, will be provided to the intended recipient in advance of any interview or meeting with investigators to allow the party sufficient time to prepare a response.
- Appointment of Investigator: The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will assign an investigator to complete a fact finding investigation of the Formal Complaint. The investigator may be a University staff member or an external professional. The Title IX Coordinator will ensure that the investigator has the appropriate training and experience and is free of a conflict of interest or bias for or against either party. The name of the investigator will be provided to the parties in the notice of investigation and the parties will be allowed to challenge the appointment of an investigator on the basis of conflict of interest or bias. The Title IX Coordinator will also ensure that the investigator has received training on the definition of Prohibited Conduct, including Sexual Harassment, the scope of the University’s Education Program or Activity, how to conduct an investigation, how to serve impartially, conflicts of interest and bias, and issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes the relevant evidence.
- Gathering Information: The investigator is responsible for gathering relevant inculpatory and exculpatory evidence related to the Formal Complaint. The investigator will send written notice of the interview date, time, and location, name of participant(s) and purpose of the interview to the parties and witnesses, in sufficient time for the party to prepare and participate. The investigator will interview the parties, and any witnesses likely to have relevant, non-cumulative information regarding the alleged conduct. The investigator will also gather other evidence, if available (e.g., audio or video recordings; electronic communications; photographs; physical or locational evidence). The investigator may also consider information publicly available from social media or other online sources that comes to the attention of the investigator. The University does not actively monitor social media or online sources for evidence in these types of cases, however, and as with all potentially relevant information, the Complainant, Respondent, or witness should bring online information to the attention of the investigator.
In general, the investigator has the discretion to determine the relevance and probative value of information proffered or received. Evidence is relevant if it makes a material fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.
The investigator may visit relevant sites or locations and record observations through written, photographic, or other means. In some cases, the investigator may consult medical, forensic, technological, or other experts when expertise on a topic is needed in order to achieve a fuller understanding of the issues under investigation.
The investigator will not require, allow, rely upon, or otherwise use questions or evidence that constitute, or seek disclosure of, information protected under a legally recognized privilege, unless the person holding such privilege has waived the privilege. If a person voluntarily chooses to share medical or counseling records with the investigator, they must sign a written consent that acknowledges that relevant information from the medical or counseling records must be shared with the other party to ensure the other party has notice of that information and an opportunity to respond.
If parties wish to provide expert testimony or evidence, they are solely responsible for securing attendance of any expert witness at a hearing, and for the costs or fees associated with any expert report or testimony.
The parties will be given an equal opportunity to present information and evidence to the investigator, and the University encourages them to provide all potentially relevant information, whether inculpatory or exculpatory. The University will not restrict the ability of either party to gather and present relevant evidence. That said, the burden of proof and evidence gathering rests with the University.
For parties or witnesses wishing to submit evidence to the investigator, they must submit all known evidence in existence and in their possession prior to completion of investigation report. If a party or witness fails to provide known evidence in their possession during the investigation, they may be precluded from offering it at a later hearing. In addition, if a witness chooses not to participate in an investigation interview, they may be precluded from testifying at a later hearing.
During the course of the investigation, the parties should bring any new or evolving evidence, such as harassing or retaliatory conduct, to the attention of the investigator. The investigator may consider such information in the investigation and will also share any information about retaliation or violation of the terms of an interim protective measure with the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) for further action.
5. Party and Witness Participation in the Investigation: Both the Complainant and Respondent have the option to provide names of potential witnesses to the investigator. Witnesses are individuals who may have information relevant to the incident, including individuals who may have observed the acts in question, may be able to provide contextual information, or may have other information related to the incident, the disclosure, or related matters. Witnesses may also be offered to provide subject matter expert information. Witnesses may not participate solely to speak about an individual’s character. The investigator has the discretion to determine which potential witnesses may have relevant information about the alleged conduct.
Where witnesses are interviewed as part of the investigation, the name of the witness and the information gathered in the interviews will be shared with the parties at the conclusion of the investigation.
Parties and witnesses have the choice to participate in an investigation, or not. Parties or witnesses who do choose to speak to the investigator may have their names shared in the investigation report. The investigator will provide written notice to parties and witnesses of any meetings. The written notice will include the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of the meeting, and will be sent with sufficient time for the recipient to prepare to participate (typically meaning at least two (2) business days prior to any meeting).
Although the University encourages all individuals involved in these investigations and processes to keep the matter private, the University cannot and will not restrict parties’ rights to speak about their experiences.
6. Parties’ Access to Information: Prior to the completion of the investigation report, the investigator will make information gathered in the investigation available for review by the parties and their advisors. The parties will have an equal opportunity to inspect and review any evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in a Formal Complaint, including the evidence upon which the University does not intend to rely in reaching a determination regarding responsibility and inculpatory or exculpatory evidence, so that each party can meaningfully respond to the evidence prior to conclusion of the investigation. The investigator will make available to each party and the party’s advisor, if any, the evidence subject to inspection and review in an electronic format or a hard copy, and the parties will have ten (10) calendar days to submit a written response, which the investigator will consider prior to completion of the investigative report. In the written submission, the parties may offer additional comment or feedback on the facts as gathered, clarify information previously shared, suggest additional witnesses, suggest additional lines of questioning or inquiry, or identify any other relevant information or evidence to assure the thoroughness, sufficiency and reliability of the investigation. The investigator will review the written submissions from the parties, make the written submissions available to the parties, and conduct additional investigation if necessary.
7. Written Investigation Report: The investigator will produce a written investigation report that fairly summarizes the relevant information and facts gathered during the investigation and may include direct observations and reasonable inferences drawn from the facts and discussion of any consistencies or inconsistencies between the various sources of information.
The investigator has the discretion to determine the relevance of any witness or other evidence and shall exclude information in preparing the investigation report if the information is irrelevant, immaterial, or more prejudicial than informative. The investigator shall exclude statements of personal opinion by witnesses and statements as to general reputation for any character trait, including honesty. Likewise evidence pertaining to the mental health of either party is not relevant to the determination of responsibility.
Evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior is not relevant, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
The investigation report will be a fair and thorough summary of all relevant information gathered that is both inculpatory and exculpatory. The investigator will provide the investigative report to the parties and their advisors, in an electronic format or a hard copy, at least five (5) calendar days before submitting the file to a Senior Human Resources Business Partner (“SHRBP”) or Labor Relations (or their designee). The Complainant and Respondent are provided the opportunity, in writing, to offer any additional comment or feedback with respect to the investigation report within that five (5) calendar day window. Once the parties’ comments—if any—are received, or after the five (5) calendar day window has elapsed (whichever happens sooner), the investigator will make the parties’ responses available to the parties, and share the case file, investigation report, and parties’ responses to the report with the SHRBP or Labor Relations. Unless extenuating circumstances exist, the SHRBP or Labor Relations will strive to convene a hearing within fifteen (15) calendar days of the receipt of the investigation report and related materials
8. Time Period for Completion: The University strives to complete investigations under this process within ninety (90) calendar days. The process may take shorter or longer depending on various factors such as the complexity of the case; number and cooperation of parties involved; number and availability of witnesses; whether there is a concurrent criminal process underway; academic calendars or demands; other emergency or non-emergency circumstances or interruptions. The Title IX Coordinator and investigator may grant temporary delays of the investigation or the limited extension of time frames for good cause with written notice to the Complainant and the Respondent of the delay or extension and the reasons for the action.
9. Acceptance of Responsibility: At any point during the investigation, the Respondent may elect to accept responsibility for some or all of the policy violations at issue. Where there is an acceptance of responsibility as to some but not all of the charges, the investigation will continue to conclusion. Where there is an acceptance of responsibility as to all of the potential policy violations, the investigator will complete an investigation report of all information gathered to date and refer the matter to the SHRBP or Labor Relations for sanctioning as described below.
10. Notice of Charge: Upon receipt of an investigation report, the SHRBP or Labor Relations, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator (or designee), will decide the final policy charges and schedule a hearing. In order to move forward with a Notice of Charge, the SHRBP or Labor Relations must determine whether the alleged conduct, if substantiated, would constitute a potential policy violation. This is not a determination of responsibility, nor does it involve a determination about the credibility of the information gathered; those decisions are reserved for the decision-maker. Rather, this evaluation accepts all facts as presented by the Complainant as true in order to determine the potential policy violations that will be the subject of the hearing.
The SHRBP or Labor Relations will issue a written Notice of Charge (also known as a Hearing Notice Letter) to the Complainant and Respondent simultaneously. The Notice of Charge will include: the charges (specific policy violations) filed against the Respondent; the date, time and location of the hearing; the names of the hearing panel or officer; how to challenge participation by the hearing panelists on the basis of conflict of interest or bias; the right to have an advisor present at the hearing and conduct questioning on the party’s behalf; that the University will provide an advisor, without fee or charge, to conduct questioning on behalf of the party at the hearing if the party does not have an advisor present for the hearing; how to request that witnesses be present at the hearing; and, information about the hearing format. Notice will be emailed at least ten (10) calendar days prior to the hearing to the parties’ syr.edu email address or in any other manner reasonably designed to give notice to the parties.
If some or all of the allegations in the Formal Complaint have been dismissed, the parties will receive written information about how to appeal the dismissal of the Formal Complaint.
The University will reschedule a hearing one time per party written request based on legitimate scheduling conflicts or emergency circumstances, as decided by the University. Any rescheduled hearing will take place no later than fifteen (15) business days within the date of the original hearing unless by mutual consent of both parties.
11. Hearing Format: Hearings will be conducted either in-person or virtually with technology that enables the decision-maker(s) and parties to simultaneously see and hear the party and witnesses speaking.
The hearing will be heard or conducted by either a hearing panel or an individual hearing officer. Hearing panels or officers will usually be external professionals, but the University reserves the right to have any case heard by University administrators. Any individuals serving as a hearing panel member or hearing officer will be free from conflicts of interest and bias for or against either party, and trained as set forth in the Training and Conflict/Bias Prevention section of these procedures. The hearing panel or officer may consult with or be advised by University administrators and/or an attorney, although the hearing panel or officer retains full discretion and decision-making authority.
Hearings will generally consist of the following steps: An opening statement from the hearing panel or officer, followed by opening statements from the Complainant and Respondent (or their advisors). Opening statements are limited to 15 minutes. Following opening statements, witnesses (if any) are called to testify. Advisors for the Complainant and Respondent have the right to question each witness. The hearing panel or officer may ask questions of the witnesses, Complainant, or Respondent at any time during their testimony. The hearing panel or officer may call its own witnesses (or recall witnesses) or request documents or other evidence from the parties as it deems appropriate. The hearing will end with closing statements, limited to 15 minutes each, from the Complainant, the Respondent, (or their advisors), and hearing panel or officer, if they so desire.
All parties and witnesses will be invited to speak at the hearing, but no party or witness is required to attend the hearing. The parties must submit to the hearing panel or officer a list of witnesses they believe have relevant information to the outcome of the hearing at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing. The hearing panel or officer will review the parties’ requested witnesses and consider any other witnesses. The hearing panel or officer has discretion to determine which witnesses are relevant and may decline to hear from witnesses where they conclude that the information is not necessary for the review. Non-party witnesses will only be permitted inside the hearing location during their own testimony. Hearing officers and panels have discretion to pose questions to parties and witnesses during the hearing.
If a party or witness declines to attend a hearing, or attends but declines to submit to questioning by the other party’s advisor, the hearing panel or officer may rely on statements of that party or witness in reaching a determination regarding responsibility, after assessing the relevance of each statement and weighing the reliability of each statement against the fact that the statement was not further tested through questioning at the hearing. The hearing panel or officer will not draw an inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party’s or witness’s absence from the live hearing or declination to answer cross-examination or other questions. If, despite being notified of the date, time, and location of the hearing, either party is not in attendance, the hearing may proceed, factual findings may be resolved, and applicable sanctions may be imposed. Neither party is required to participate in the hearing in order for the hearing to proceed. A hearing officer or panel may consider prior findings of responsibility, if relevant, as pattern evidence or for sanctioning purposes.
Rules of evidence and criminal standards of proof do not apply. The hearing panel or officer (or their advisor) will determine the relevance of questions asked by the parties, and preclude questions that seek irrelevant information. However, both parties have the right to exclude their own irrelevant prior sexual history with persons other than the other party in the conduct process or their own mental health diagnosis and/or treatment during the finding of responsibility phase of the hearing. In particular, questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Each party’s advisor may ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. Such cross-examination at the live hearing must be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by the party’s advisor of choice and never by a party personally. Only relevant cross-examination and other questions may be asked of a party or witness. Before a Complainant, Respondent, or witness answers a cross-examination or other question, the hearing panel or officer must first determine whether the question is relevant and explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant. If a party does not have an advisor present at the live hearing, the University will provide without fee or charge to that party, an advisor of the University’s choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, to question other parties and witnesses on behalf of that party.
Attendance at a hearing is limited to the hearing panel or officer; the hearing panel or officer’s advisor; the Title IX Coordinator or a designee; the parties and their advisors; Public Safety representatives, if appropriate; witnesses (for their own testimony only); and anyone else the hearing officer deems necessary to administer the hearing. The parties must provide the names of their advisors to the SHRBP or Labor Relations at least seven (7) business days prior to the hearing.
The hearing will be audio recorded by the University. Recordings will not include deliberations. The tapes and/or digital audio files are accessible to the parties in the case of an appeal. Either party may request access to a written transcript of the recording at no cost to the party. Printed transcripts may be redacted prior to being provided to the requesting party in accordance with applicable privacy laws.
12. Hearing Panel or Officer’s Decision: Based on an objective review of all relevant evidence, hearing panels or officers will decide whether Respondents violated University policy by using a preponderance of the evidence or “more likely than not” standard of evidence. Credibility determinations will not be based on a person’s status as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness. Typically within fifteen (15) business days of a hearing, the hearing panel or officer will issue to the SHRBP or Labor Relations a written decision regarding responsibility. The written decision will include the following elements: (1) identification of the allegations potentially constituting Prohibited Conduct; (2) a description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the Formal Complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held; (3) findings of fact supporting the determination; (4) conclusions regarding the application of the Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy to the facts; and (5) a statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each alleged policy violation.
13. Sanction: If a finding of responsibility is made, the SHRBP or Labor Relations (or their designee) will decide appropriate sanctions or remedies. Prior to setting sanctions or remedies, the SHRBP or Labor Relations (or their designee) will consider any other relevant information including, without limitation:
- the extent of harm caused to or impact on individuals and the community (i.e. living environment, University community, and the surrounding community) including the level of intervention necessary;
- the potential for ongoing risk to specific individuals or the campus community;
- a staff member’s disciplinary record and status of any prior conduct sanctions;
- level of intent, remorse, cooperation, and willingness to take responsibility;
- evidence that the staff member’s conduct was motivated by bias regarding an individual or group’s real or perceived race, color, creed, religion, political or social affiliation, sex, gender, national origin, citizenship, ethnicity, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and/or veteran status;
- sanctions issued in prior similar staff conduct cases;
- impact statements submitted by either party;
- the nature or violence of the conduct at issue; and
- any other mitigating, exacerbating, or compelling circumstances.
Sanctions will be designed to eliminate the Prohibited Conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.
The Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Policy prohibits a broad range of conduct, all of which is serious in nature. In keeping with the University’s commitment to foster an environment that is safe, inclusive, and free from discrimination and harassment, the SHRBP and Labor Relations have great latitude in deciding sanctions tailored to the facts and circumstances of each report, the impact of the conduct on the Complainant and surrounding community, and accountability for the Respondent. The range of possible sanctions include:
- verbal or written warning;
- suspension with or without pay;
- reassignment of duties;
- dismissal; and/or
- Other sanctions appropriate to the circumstances, including, without limitation, restitution, apology, professional counseling/treatment, and more.
Regardless of the outcome, the SHRBP or Labor Relations (or their designee) may recommend to the Title IX Coordinator additional Remedies for the Complainant to address the effects of the conduct on the Complainant, restore or preserve the Complainant’s access to University programs and activities, and restore to the Complainant, to the extent possible, benefits and opportunities lost as a result of the Prohibited Conduct. The SHRBP or Labor Relations may also identify remedies to address the effects of the conduct on the University community.
The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will review the remedies recommended by the SHRBP or Labor Relations (or their designee) and will consider the appropriateness of continuing Supportive Measures on an ongoing basis. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for the effective implementation of remedies.
14. Written Outcome: Hearings are considered complete when the hearing panel or officer complete a final written decision regarding responsibility. Hearing panel and officer decisions are made in private, and by a majority vote (in the instance of a panel). Sanctions will be decided by the SHRBP or Labor Relations, who will transmit a written outcome letters simultaneously to the parties. This written outcome letter will typically be issued within fifteen (15) business days of receiving the hearing panel or officer’s decision; it will attach the hearing panel or officer decision; and it will include sanctions and the rationale for the sanctions, as well as an overview of the appellate rights of the parties.
15. Appeal: Either party may, within ten (10) business days of the communication of the outcome letter from Human Resources, submit a written appeal to the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. The Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (or designee) will notify the other party of the action, and each party will have the opportunity to review and respond to any appeal documents submitted by the other party. Late appeals will not be considered.
Appeals must be based on one or more of the following grounds:
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
- New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter;
- The Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter; or
- Errors in the interpretation of University policy so substantial as to deny either party a fair hearing; or
- Grossly inappropriate sanction having no reasonable relationship to the charges.
The responding party will have ten (10) business days to submit a response to any appeal. The Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Business Partner, or designee, will issue a written decision on the appeal within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of all appeal documents from both parties. The Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer’s (or designee’s) determination is final. Late appeals will not be considered.
B. Informal Resolution Process
The University may resolve reports informally, as appropriate based on the circumstances. An Informal Resolution provides a mechanism for the University to take prompt action through the imposition of individual and community remedies designed to maintain or restore access to the educational, extracurricular, and employment activities at the University and to remedy the impacts of conduct on members of the community. Informal Resolution is available only once a Formal Complaint has been filed, prior to a determination of responsibility, and if all impacted parties and the University voluntarily consent to the process in writing. Informal Resolution is not available in cases in which a staff member or other employee is alleged to have engaged in Title IX Sexual Harassment with a student.
Any person who facilitates an informal resolution will be trained and free from conflicts of interest or bias for or against either party (see Section IX Training and Conflict/Bias Prevention below).
If the parties are interested in pursuing Informal Resolution, the Title IX Coordinator (or a designee) will send written notices to the parties describing:
- The allegations at issue;
- The requirements of the Informal Resolution;
- The circumstances under which the parties are precluded from resuming a Formal Complaint arising from the same allegations;
- Parties’ rights to end the Informal Resolution process at any time prior to resolution and resume the Formal Complaint process;
- The consequences resulting from participating in the Informal Resolution;
- The fact that records and communications created or maintained as part of the Informal Resolution process may be viewed by parties, but will not later be used or considered by the University in a Formal Complaint process, including at a hearing.
All parties will be required to return signed copies of the written notices agreeing to the Informal Resolution process.
If a resolution is reached between the parties in an Informal Resolution, the matter will be considered closed, and the parties would be precluded from filing another complaint arising from the same conduct or set of facts. Prior to reaching a resolution, any party can withdraw from the Informal Resolution process and resume the Formal Complaint process. The University strives to complete an Informal Resolution within thirty (30) days of the parties’ written agreement to participate in the process.
Any statements made during an Informal Resolution process, records and communications created or maintained as part of an Informal Resolution process will not be used or considered in a subsequent investigation or hearing involving the same conduct or facts, but may be used in determining sanctions of any subsequent or separate instances of misconduct by the same Respondent(s).
The University will maintain records related to reports or complaints of Sexual Harassment for a period of seven (7) years. Such records may include, without limitation, investigation reports and evidence, hearing records, disciplinary decisions or communications, appeals, informal resolution documents, requests for and provision of Supportive Measures, and other records demonstrating actions the University took to respond to the reported conduct. The records will be kept private to the extent required or permitted by law. The University will also maintain training records for the same period of time.
XI. Training and Conflict/Bias Prevention
The Title IX Coordinator, investigators, decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an Informal Resolution process, will receive annual training on: (a) the definition of Prohibited Conduct, including Sexual Harassment; (b) the scope of the University’s Education Program or Activity; (c) how to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals, and Informal Resolution processes; (d) how to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias; (e) the presumption of “not responsible” until any appropriate process concludes; and, (f) how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of complainants and promotes accountability.
Hearing panels and officers will receive additional training on: (a) any technology to be used at a live hearing; (b) how to determine relevance of for cross-examination questions and other evidence, including when questions and evidence about the parties’ sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant.
Investigators will receive additional training on issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence.
Any materials used to train the Title IX Coordinator, investigators, decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an Informal Resolution process, will not rely on sex or gender stereotypes and will promote impartial investigations and adjudications of Formal Complaints of Prohibited Conduct. The University will publish on its website training materials used for its most recent training sessions.
The University also provides prevention and awareness programs for students, faculty, and staff to prevent Prohibited Conduct and promote a learning and working environment free from discrimination or harassment.
Throughout any Formal or Informal Resolution process described above, the University will take steps to reasonably ensure the Title IX Coordinator, investigators, decision-makers, or any person designated by the University to facilitate an Informal Resolution process, not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or an individual Complainant or Respondent.
XII. Modification of Procedures
Syracuse University reserves the right to modify these procedures with written notice to the parties in circumstances where, in the University’s sole discretion, the procedures described herein are insufficient to meet the objectives of educating and protecting members of the University. This includes, without limitation, when classes are not in session, while any involved individual is working abroad, during the summer session, when safety and security so demand, or when special expertise is needed to ensure fairness. Modified procedures, nonetheless, will provide staff with notice of reported conduct and potential policy violations; an opportunity to present their case; and one level of appeal.
All capitalized terms have the same meaning as written in the Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy.
 Throughout this policy, the pronouns “they,” “them” and “their” are used intentionally to be inclusive of all genders. Capitalized terms in these procedures have the same meaning as in the Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Assault Prevention Policy.