As a recipient of federal funds, Thomas University is required to comply with Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (“Title IX”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities, admission and employment. Under certain circumstances, sexual misconduct constitutes sexual discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
Inquiries concerning the application of Title IX may be referred to Thomas University’s Title IX Coordinator. Title IX Coordinator is Ms. Chris Lyons, whose office is located in the Forbes Building Upstairs Human Resource Office, 1501 Millpond Pond, Thomasville, GA 31792. Ms. Lyons may be contacted by phone at (229) 221-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions may also be directed to a Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Bob Bohman at 229-421-2005, or by email at email@example.com. Their names and contact information are listed in the left-hand sidebar on this page.
Title IX is the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at colleges and universities. In accordance with our institutional mission and values and Title IX, Thomas University seeks to create a culture that fosters fair and equitable treatment, free from sex or gender based discrimination and/or sexual misconduct. Our Title IX team is dedicated to providing a complete approach in response to allegations of discrimination.
Thomas University complies with federal and state law, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, pregnancy, citizenship, or veteran status. The University also prohibits sexual harassment as well as harassment based on any of these characteristics. This nondiscrimination policy applies to all employment practices at Thomas University, and to the admission, access in and employment in Thomas University education programs and activities.
It is the policy of Thomas University to maintain an environment that is free of all forms of discrimination and harassment, including sexual misconduct for students, faculty, administrators, staff, volunteers, and visitors that is free of all forms of discrimination and harassment, including sexual misconduct. The University has enacted this Sexual Misconduct Policy to reflect and maintain its institutional values and community expectations, to provide for fair and equitable procedures for determining when this Policy has been violated, and to provide recourse for individuals and the community in response to violations of this Policy.
This Policy prohibits all forms of sexual or gender-based discrimination, harassment, and misconduct, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. This Policy also prohibits retaliation against a person who reports, complains about, or who otherwise participates in good faith in any matter related to this Policy. All of the foregoing conduct shall be referred to as “Prohibited Conduct.” Thomas University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational, extracurricular, athletic, or other programs or in the context of employment. Sex discrimination is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that provides:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Sexual harassment is also prohibited under Title IX and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other applicable statutes. This Policy prohibits sexual harassment against Thomas University community members of any sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in the context of education or employment. This Policy also prohibits gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
Upon receipt of a formal written complaint, the University will take prompt and equitable action to eliminate the Prohibited Conduct (if any), prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. In addition, the University will fulfill its obligations under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (“VAWA”) amendments to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”) in response to reported Prohibited Conduct. Students or employees who are found to have violated this Policy may face disciplinary action up to and including expulsion (students) or termination of employment (faculty or staff).
Thomas University also prohibits other forms of discrimination and harassment as described in Policy Equal Employment Opportunity in the Employee Handbook.
Prior to the articulation of the Policy, it is important to note options for assistance following an incident of sexual violence. Whether or not an individual chooses to formally report an incident, receiving immediate medical attention and/or counseling is vital to the individual’s overall health and wellness. Likewise, seeking immediate medical attention is vital to preserve evidence if an investigation is to follow. More detailed information on resources is also available at the end of this Policy.
Scope of Policy
This Policy applies to all reports of Prohibited Conduct occurring on or after the effective date of this Policy (August 14, 2020).
When used in this Policy, “Complainant” refers to an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
“Respondent” refers to an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
A “Third-Party” refers to any other participant in the process, including a witness or an individual who makes a report on behalf of a Complainant.
The process begins with a Formal Complaint filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a Respondent and requesting that the University investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. At the time of filing a Formal Complaint, a Complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of the University.
Nothing in this Policy derogates the legal right of a parent or guardian acting on behalf of the Complainant, Respondent, or Third-Party, including, but not limited to filing a Formal Complaint.
A possible violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy is handled through an administrative process. A Complainant may also pursue criminal or civil legal recourse concurrently. One is not dependent upon another.
This Policy applies to all Thomas University community members, including students, faculty, administrators, staff, volunteers and visitors.
The University strongly encourages reports of Prohibited Conduct regardless of who engaged in the conduct. Even if the University does not have jurisdiction over the Respondent, the University will take prompt action to provide for the safety and well-being of the Complainant and the broader campus community.
The University will provide Supportive Measures with or without a Formal Complaint.
This Policy applies to the University’s educational program or activity which includes locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercises substantial control over both the Complainant and Respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment occurs.
This Policy applies to all on-campus conduct. The University strongly encourages reports of Prohibited Conduct. Even if the Policy does not apply to the conduct because of it location, the University will take prompt action to provide for the safety and well-being of the Complainant and the broader campus community under applicable University policies.
On-Campus Conduct. This Policy applies to conduct that occurs on-campus, including conduct which occurs on property owned or controlled, leased, or managed by the University. This policy also applies to any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the University.
University Programs. This Policy applies to conduct that occurs in the context of University employment or education programs or activities, including, but not limited to, internship programs, graduate assistantships, or athletic travel.
Off-Campus Conduct. This Policy applies to all conduct that occurs on University premises and at University-sponsored activities. The College also has the discretion to discipline a student for conduct that occurs off campus, if that conduct adversely affects the University community and/or the pursuit of its objectives.
Sex or Gender-Based Discrimination Sex or gender-based discrimination refers to the disparate treatment of a person or group because of that person’s or group’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Sexual Harassment. Sexual Misconduct is conduct of a sexual nature or conduct based on sex or gender that is nonconsensual or has the effect of threatening, intimidating, or coercing a person. The University prohibits the following specific conduct (defined below):
Sexual harassment quid pro quo occurs when a position of authority is used threaten to impose a penalty or to withhold a benefit for sexual favors, whether or not the attempt is successful. Sexual harassment may involve behavior by a person of either gender against a person of the same or opposite gender. It should be noted that the potential of sexual harassment exists in any of the following relationships: student/student, employee/student, student/employee, and employee/employee. Here and subsequently, “employees” refers to faculty, staff, and administration. Because of the inherent differential in power between University’s employees and students, sexual relationships between employees and students are prohibited.
A hostile, demeaning, or intimidating environment exists when sexual harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively reasonable that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education program or activity. A hostile environment can be created by anyone involved in a University’s program or activities (e.g., administrators, faculty members, staff members, campus visitors).
Explicit behaviors constituting sexual harassment include but are not limited to requests for sexual favors, physical assaults of a sexual nature, sexually offensive remarks, and rubbing, touching or brushing against another’s body. More subtle behaviors may be experienced as intimidating or offensive, particularly when they recur, or one person has authority over another. Such behaviors may include but are not limited to unwelcome hugs or touching, inappropriate staring, veiled suggestions of sexual activity, requests for meetings in non-academic settings, and risqué jokes, stories or images.
These behaviors may range from the most egregious forms, such as sexual violence, to more subtle forms. The University defines acts of sexual violence as physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the individual’s age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the individual from having the capacity to give consent; For full definition of consent, please refer to the section below.
Complainant. Complainant refers to an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
Coercion. Coercion is inappropriate pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When a person makes clear that they do not want sex, wants to stop, or that going past a certain point of sexual interaction is unwanted, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.
Consent. Consent is a clear, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement between participants to engage in specific sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive, and is given by clear actions or words. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance alone. Instead, consent is affirmatively given. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Being intoxicated does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent. In some situations, an individual may be deemed incapable of consenting to sexual activity. Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to, incompetence, impairment from alcohol and/or other drugs, fear, unconsciousness, intimidation, coercion, confinement, isolation, or mental or physical impairment. In Georgia, minors under the age of 16 years of are generally unable to provide consent, with narrow exceptions. See Georgia Code Ann. Section 16-6-3, Statutory Rape. The University recognizes the following aspects regarding consent:
Dating violence. The term “dating violence” means violence committed by a person – (a) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and (b) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
Domestic violence. The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by 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. [34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8)].
Gender identity. A person’s deeply felt internal sense of being male or female, regardless of their sex assigned at birth.
Gender expression. The manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or mannerisms.
Incapacitation. Incapacity can result from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from intentional or unintentional taking of alcohol and/or other drugs. An incapacitated person does not have the ability to give knowing consent. Sexual activity with a person who one should know to be – or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be – mentally or physically incapacitated, constitutes a violation of this Policy. The perspective of a reasonable person will be the basis for determining whether one should have known about the impact of the use of alcohol and/or drugs on another’s ability to give consent (see full definition of “consent” above).
Retaliation No person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing.
Intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination, including charges against an individual for code of conduct violations that do not involve sex discrimination or sexual harassment, but arise out of the same facts or circumstances as a report or complaint of sex discrimination, or a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, constitutes retaliation.
Charging an individual with a code of conduct violation for making a materially false statement in bad faith in the course of a grievance proceeding under this policy does not constitute retaliation prohibited, provided, however, that a determination regarding responsibility, alone, is not sufficient to conclude that any party made a materially false statement in bad faith.
Reasonable Person. Reasonable person refers to an ordinary person who exercises care while avoiding extremes of boldness and carefulness (Replevin, Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th ed. 2014).
Respondent. Respondent refers to an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
Sexual Assault. “Sexual Assault” means an offense classified as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v).
CRIME DEFINITIONS FROM THE NATIONAL INCIDENT-BASED REPORTING SYSTEM (NIBRS) USER MANUAL FROM THE FBI’S UCR PROGRAM
Any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.
Stalking. The term “stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to— (A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (B)suffer substantial emotional distress. [34 USC 12291(a) (30)]
Student. The term student means any person pursuing academic studies at the University; this includes: (a) a person not currently enrolled but who was enrolled in the fall, spring, or summer terms preceding the alleged violation; (b) a person who, while not currently enrolled, was previously enrolled at Thomas University and who is reasonably anticipated to seek enrollment at a future date; (c) a person who has applied to or been accepted for admission to Thomas University and has accepted an offer of admission or may reasonably be expected to enroll; or (d) a person enrolled in a Thomas University program on a credit or non-credit basis.
The University encourages individuals who have experienced what they believe could constitute sexual harassment to speak with someone about what happened so that support can be offered, and the University can respond appropriately. Different individuals associated with the University have different abilities to maintain confidentiality in this area.
This Policy is intended to make individuals aware of the various reporting and confidential disclosure options available to them so they can make informed choices about where to turn if an incident occurs. The University encourages individuals to talk to someone identified in one or more of these groups. The options include:
Privileged and Confidential Communications
Professional, licensed counselors and pastoral counselors who provide mental-health counseling to members of the school community (and including those who act in that role under the supervision of a licensed counselor) are not required to report any information about an incident to the Title IX Coordinator without a Complainant’s permission. Following is the contact information for these on-campus individuals:
While these professional and non-professional counselors and advocates may maintain a Complainant’s confidentiality vis-à-vis the University, they may have reporting or other obligations under state law, such as mandatory reporting to law enforcement in case of minors; imminent harm to self or others; requirement to testify if subpoenaed in a criminal case.
If the University determines that the Respondent poses a serious and immediate threat to the University community, the Vice President of Student Life may be called upon to issue a timely warning to the community. Any such warning should not include any information that identifies the Complainant.
Requesting Confidentiality from the University: How the University Will Weigh the Request and Respond.
If an individual discloses an incident to a Responsible Employee but wishes to maintain confidentiality or requests that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted or disciplinary action taken, the Responsible Employee must disclose to the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator (or Deputy) will contact the Complainant and determine if Complainant wishes to move forward, simply requests Supportive Measures, or wants to file criminal charges. The Coordinator (or Deputy) will also assess the risk to the University and weigh that request against the University’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all Thomas University community members, including the reporting individual.
If the University honors the request for confidentiality, an individual must understand that the University’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the Respondent may be limited.
Although rare, there are times when the University may not be able to honor an individual’s request in order to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all Thomas University community members.
The University has designated the following individual to evaluate requests for confidentiality once the institution on notice of alleged sexual harassment or sexual violence:
Chris Lyons, Director of Human Resources & Title IX Coordinator (229-221-9154; firstname.lastname@example.org
When weighing an individual’s request for confidentiality or that no investigation or discipline be pursued, The Title IX Coordinator will consider a range of factors, including the following:
The presence of one or more of these factors could lead the University to investigate and, if appropriate, pursue disciplinary action. If none of these factors is present, the University will likely respect the Complainant’s request for confidentiality.
If the University determines that it cannot maintain a Complainant’s confidentiality, the University will inform the Complainant prior to starting an investigation and will, to the extent possible, only share information with people responsible for handling the University’s response.
The University will remain ever mindful of the Complainant’s well-being and will take ongoing steps to protect the Complainant from retaliation or harm and work with the Complainant to create a safety plan. Retaliation against the reporting individual, whether by students or University employees, will not be tolerated. The University will provide supportive measures as described in Section VI of this policy.
Because the University is under a continuing obligation to address the issue of sexual harassment and sexual violence campus-wide, reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence (including non-identifying reports) will also prompt the University to consider broader remedial action – such as increased monitoring, supervision or security at locations where the reported sexual violence occurred; increasing education and prevention efforts, including to targeted population groups; conducting climate assessments/victimization surveys; and/or revisiting its policies and practices.
If the University determines that it can respect a Complainant’s request for confidentiality, the University will also take immediate action as necessary to protect and assist the Complainant.
Thomas University has designated the following Title IX Coordinator:
Chris Lyons: Title IX Coordinator; 229-221-9154, email@example.com
Thomas University’s Title IX Coordinator oversees University compliance regarding all Title IX related matters, including the investigation of complaints. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
Thomas University has designated the following Deputy Title IX Coordinator:
Bob Bohman: Deputy Title IX Coordinator; 229-421-2005, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas University’s Deputy Coordinator are trained to receive initial intake and, if designated by the Title IX Coordinator, investigate complaints. Deputy Coordinator responsibilities include the following:
All University employees who do not have legally protected confidentiality are considered Responsible Employees.
Official with Authority
An Official with Authority means any official of the College who has authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the College (§106.30). Thomas University has designated the following positions as Officials with Authority:
Responsible Employee means any employee with the obligation to report sexual harassment or the responsibility to inform a student how to report sexual harassment. The College requires that all Responsible Employees share any report of misconduct with the Title IX Coordinator. A Responsible Employee is anyone who:
A responsible employee, excluding confidential resources, must report to the Title IX Coordinator all relevant details about the alleged sexual harassment or sexual violence shared by the individual and that the University will need to determine what happened – including the names of the victim and alleged perpetrator(s), any witnesses, and any other relevant facts, including the date, time and specific location of the alleged incident.
All University employees who do not have legally protected confidentiality are considered Responsible Employees.
The University strongly encourages all individuals to seek assistance from a medical provider and/or law enforcement immediately after an incident of sexual violence. This is the best option to ensure preservation of evidence and to begin a timely investigative and remedial response.
The University also strongly encourages all individuals or third-party witnesses to report any incident to the University and to local law enforcement, although neither is required. These reporting options are not mutually exclusive. Both internal and criminal reports may be made simultaneously.
In order for the process to begin, the University must have actual knowledge. Actual knowledge means notice of sexual harassment or allegations of sexual harassment to the University’s Title IX Coordinator or any University official who has authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the recipient. Making a report means telling the Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Deputy Coordinator what happened—in person, by telephone, in writing, or by email. But, ultimately there must be a formal writing.
At the time a report is made, a Complainant does not have to request any particular course of action, nor does a Complainant need to know how to label what happened. Choosing to make a report, and deciding how to proceed after making the report, can be a process that unfolds over time. The University provides support that can assist Complainant’s in making these important decisions and will respect a Complainant’s autonomy in deciding how to proceed to the extent possible. In this process, the University will balance the Complainant’s interest with its obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all members of the University community.
The University will investigate and resolve all formal complaints of Prohibited Conduct in a fair and impartial manner. The Parties will be treated with dignity and respect. In response to all reports of Prohibited Conduct, the University will make an immediate assessment of any risk of harm to the Parties, or the broader campus community and will take steps necessary to address those risks. These steps may include Supportive Measures and/or Emergency Removal or administrative leave of the Respondent to provide for the safety of the Complainant and the campus community.
Emergency and External Reporting Options
Complainants have the right to notify or decline to notify law enforcement. The University strongly encourages all individuals to seek assistance from law enforcement immediately after an incident of sexual misconduct. The University will help any Thomas University community member to get to a safe place and will arrange transportation to the hospital, coordination with law enforcement, and information about on- and off-campus resources and options for resolution.
Emergency Assistance: 911
Thomasville Police Dept. 229-227-3249
Campus Security (Securitas): Observed and Report Only
If you do not wish to make a report to the police, you are still encouraged to seek professional medical advice.
Additional off- campus assistance is available through the following:
Archbold Student & Employee Assistance Program 229-228-2210, Toll-Free 1-877-327-2724 or 24-Hours Helpline 1-800-238-8661 or at www.archold.org
Halcyon Home, Inc.: Domestic/Sexual Violence Shelter: 600 E. Clay Street, Thomasville, GA 31792. (229-226-5096). Services are available to respond to allegations of a domestic violence upon male victims. These supports for adult male victims does not include residential. Residential is for women only.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Rape Crisis Center in Thomas County: (866) 577-3600.
DHR Protective Services (child/disabled adult); (866-552-4464. Provide individual investigation of all allegations and present if necessary to the court for action as recommend by investigators.
Campus Reporting Options
The University recommends that individuals report Prohibited Conduct to an Official with Authority or Responsible Employee or any of the following offices or individuals:
VP of Student – Bob Bohman – Magnolia Campus 229-421-2005; email@example.com
Director of Human Resources – Chris Lyons- Forbes Building – Main Campus 229-221-9154; firstname.lastname@example.org
VP of Academic Affairs – Dr. John Meis – Forbes Building – Main Campus; email@example.com
The University reserves the right to grant amnesty from drug, alcohol, or other violations of the Social Code for parties reporting allegations under this Policy (i.e., if alcohol was involved in the incident, the reporting party would not then be charged with an alcohol infraction). Decisions regarding amnesty under the Policy will be made by the Title IX Coordinator.
Cases of sexual violence may also be reported to the Thomasville Police Department; the University’s Title IX Coordinator can assist individuals with contacting the Police Department. If an incident is criminal in nature, the University may be mandated to share certain information with law enforcement.
Although the University encourages victims to talk to someone, the University provides an alternative option for anonymous reporting. Campus Conduct Reporting can be directed to the Title IX Coordinator at, 229-221-9154, is a confidential, independent call-in service that provides all University community members a simple and anonymous way to report any incident.
Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the University will provide reasonable and appropriate supportive measures designed to eliminate any existing hostile environment and protect all Parties involved. The University will make reasonable efforts to communicate with the Parties to ensure that all safety, emotional and physical well-being concerns are being addressed. Supportive measures may be implemented regardless of whether formal disciplinary action is sought by the Complainant or the University, and regardless of whether a crime is reported to local law enforcement. Supportive Measures are non-disciplinary, services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to both the Complainant or Respondent before or after the filing of a Formal Complaint or where no Formal Complaint has been filed. These Supportive Measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to the University’s education program or activity without unreasonable burdening Complainant and Respondent, including measures designed to protect the safety of all Parties or the University’s educational environment, or deter sexual harassment.
Supportive measures may include no- contact directives, changes in class or work schedules, changes in University-owned living arrangements, or any other supportive measures that the University deems appropriate. Likewise, the University may work with a reporting student to provide access to on-campus counseling services, provide information regarding off-campus services, increased security monitoring, additional academic support or even withdrawal from class (or classes) without penalty. Supportive measures for employees may include changes in work schedules, relocating offices, provide information regarding off-campus services, increased security monitoring, or any other supportive measures that the University deems appropriate.
The University will maintain the privacy of any supportive measures provided under this Policy to the extent practicable and will promptly address any violation of the supportive measures. All individuals are encouraged to report concerns about failure of another individual to abide by any restrictions imposed by a supportive measure. The University will take immediate and responsive action to enforce a previously implemented restriction if such restriction was violated.
Nothing in this Policy precludes the University from removing a Respondent from the University’s education program or activity on an emergency basis, provided that the University undertakes an individualized safety and risk analysis, determines that an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations of sexual harassment justifies removal, and provides the Respondent with notice and an opportunity to challenge the decision immediately following the removal. This provision may not be construed to modify any rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Nothing in this Policy precludes Thomas University from placing a non-student employee Respondent on administrative leave during the pendency of this process. This provision may not be construed to modify any rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Thomas University is committed to preventing sexual harassment. To that end, this Policy and these procedures will be printed in appropriate University publications. In addition, educational programs will be conducted annually by the University to (1) inform students, faculty, staff and administration about identifying sexual harassment and the problems it causes; (2) advise members of the University community about their rights and responsibilities under this Policy; (3) train personnel in the administration of this Policy. The Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures will be issued to all incoming students and personnel.
The Title IX Team (Coordinator and/or Deputy) will coordinate resolution of all allegations of Prohibited Conduct defined in the Sexual Misconduct Policy using the procedures in this section. Prohibited Conduct (e.g., discrimination, harassment, retaliation) based on protected status other than sex (e.g., race, color, age, disability, other classification protected by federal or state law) is prohibited by other University policies. In the event of such complaints, the University will identify, based upon the allegation, the appropriate office to coordinate resolution of the report.
The Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process.
All investigations will be conducted in a timely and impartial manner. The Parties will be informed of the projected timeline for conclusion of the process. There may be temporary delays of the process and limited extensions of time frame for good cause. The Parties will be provided written notice of the delay and reasons for such delay.
If the conduct alleged in the Formal Complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defined in this Policy even if proved, did not occur in the University’s education program or activity, or did not occur against a person in the United States, then the University must dismiss the Formal Complaint with regard to that conduct for purposes of sexual harassment under this Policy. However, such a dismissal does not preclude action under another provision of the University’s Student or Employee Code.
The University may dismiss the Formal Complaint or any allegations therein, if at any time during the investigation or hearing: A Complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein; the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the University; or specific circumstances prevent the University from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the Formal Complaint or allegations therein.
Upon dismissal of the Formal Complaint either required or permitted, the University will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and reasons for the dismissal simultaneously to each Party.
The University may consolidate Formal Complaints as to allegations of sexual harassment against more than one Respondent, or by more than one Complainant against one or more Respondents, or by one Party against another Party, where the allegations of sexual harassment arise out of the same facts or circumstances.
With or without a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator must promptly contact the Complainant to discuss the availability of Supportive Measures, consider the Complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures, and explain the Complainant the process for filing a Formal Complaint.
Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the Title IX Team will conduct an Intake Meeting with the Complainant as soon as possible. At that meeting, the Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator will address the following topics, as appropriate:
At the Intake Meeting, the Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator will provide the Complainant with the above-listed information in writing. If the initial Intake Meeting is conducted by a Deputy Coordinator, the meeting report will be submitted to the Coordinator for consideration. As described in the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Complainant has the right to request that the Title IX office not share the Complainant’s name (or other identifiable information) with the Respondent, or that the Title IX office take no formal action in response to the report.
If the Complainant makes such a request, the Coordinator will balance the request with the dual obligation to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all University’s community members, and to remain true to principles of fundamental fairness that require the University to provide the Respondent with notice of the allegations and an opportunity to respond before action is taken against the Respondent.
The Coordinator will make this determination consistent with the following considerations, namely:
Should the Coordinator determine that, in response to the Complainant’s request, the University can satisfy its obligations to the Complainant, the University community members, and the Respondent without proceeding through the Process described herein, the Coordinator has the discretion to do so.
Absent a request for confidentiality as described above, the Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator will ask the Complainant questions to get a basic understanding of the reported Prohibited Conduct. The interview will include, but is not limited to, questions to understand the key facts upon which the Complainant bases the report (i.e., the who, what, where, and when) to appropriately assess how to proceed. At the conclusion of the Intake Meeting, and if the individual wishes to move forward with a formal complaint, the Coordinator and Deputy will decide:
The Title IX Coordinator or Deputy will select a trained internal or external investigator or a two-person investigative team to conduct a reasonable, impartial, and prompt investigation of the complaint (“Investigation”). The Coordinator will select an Investigator based on several factors, including the Parties involved, the complexity of the complaint, the need to avoid any potential conflict of interest, and who may best conduct a fair and equitable investigation for all Parties involved. The Coordinator will notify the Complainant and Respondent, in writing, of the name of the designated Investigator(s). The Complainant will have 2 business days to object to the Investigator’s selection on the basis of bias or conflict of interest. If the Complainant or Respondent objects, the Coordinator will evaluate whether the objection is substantiated. The Coordinator will remove and replace any Investigator the Coordinator finds to have a bias or conflict of interest against either party.
The Complainant and the Respondent are each permitted to select an Advisor to accompany his/her during any investigative meeting, pre-hearing conference and/or at any time following the filing of a formal complaint. The Advisor may be a mentor, family member, friend, attorney or any other supporter so long as they are not in any way involved in the resolution process, such as serving as a witness. Their role is to support the Complainant or the Respondent and, as such, are not permitted to speak in investigative meetings. However, during a live hearing, Advisors are permitted to cross examine the parties and witnesses. The University cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an advisor who is an attorney, but the other does not, or cannot afford an attorney, the University is not obligated to provide one.
Role of the Advisor of Choice
Both the Respondent and Complainant have the right to have an Advisor of Choice. It is the responsibility of the Complainant and Respondent to communicate with the Advisor regarding allegations, times and dates of meetings, hearings, outcomes and any other information regarding the case. The Investigators, Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator will not discuss the case with any Advisor. The Advisor may:
Prior to meeting with the Respondent, the University will provide written notice to the Respondent of the allegations of sexual harassment including sufficient details known at the time and with sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview. Additionally, the following must be provided in writing to the Respondent:
The Investigator will interview both Parties and relevant witnesses and gather documentary evidence provided by the Parties and any identified witnesses. The Investigator will prepare a summary of each interview (“Interview Summary”). The University does not restrict the ability of either the Complainant or Respondent to discuss the allegations under investigation or to gather and present relevant evidence.
Using the findings from this preliminary investigation, the Title IX Coordinator, and Deputy Coordinator will determine and notify the Complainant in writing as to whether the University should proceed through Formal or Informal Resolution using the following guidelines:
If the Coordinator determines that it is appropriate, the Parties may choose to resolve complaints through Informal Resolution. Informal Resolution must be mutually agreed upon, in writing, by both parties in case. Additionally, an Informal Resolution process cannot begin unless a formal written complaint is filed. The Informal Resolution process may recommend the following types of outcomes, where appropriate: facilitating an agreement between the Parties, separating the Parties, referring the Parties to counseling programs, conducting targeted educational and training programs, and mediation.
To proceed with Informal Resolution, the University must provide the Parties with written notice disclosing the allegations, the requirements of the Informal Resolution process including the circumstances under which the Parties could be precluded from resuming a Formal Resolution process arising from the same allegations. No party can be required as a condition of enrollment or continuing enrollment, or employment or continuing employment, or enjoyment of any other right, to waive their right to an investigation and adjudication of a Formal Complaint.
If the parties involved in the Informal Resolution process fail to reach a mutually agreeable outcome for the alleged conduct, the allegation will be resolved via the formal investigation process. In that event, the Title IX Coordinator will so notify the Parties in writing and will describe next steps and time frames for the Formal Resolution.
Agreements reached via the informal resolution process shall be final following three (3) business days and cannot be appealed absent the discovery of new and material information or other similar circumstances, in which case a new investigation may be initiated.
Any Party (including the Title IX Coordinator) may terminate the Informal Resolution process at any time.
If the Coordinator determines that the Complainant’s report must proceed through Formal Resolution, the Coordinator will make every attempt to notify both Parties, in writing, of the decision as soon as possible following the initial investigation. The Coordinator’s written notification to the Respondent will state facts sufficient to apprise the Respondent of the nature of the allegations, including, specifically:
The notice of the complaint shall be accompanied with a request for a meeting with the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator within 3 business days. If the Respondent does not respond to the meeting request or is unable to meet within 3 business days, the Coordinator shall provide the following information in writing:
The Investigator will continue the investigation once the 3 business days has expired, or sooner if both Parties respond. The Investigator, in consultation with the Coordinator, will establish an expected, reasonable timeframe for the Formal Investigation process and notify the Parties of any delays.
The Investigator will review the documentation from the preliminary investigation and will prepare a Preliminary Report. The Preliminary Report is a written summary of the evidence gathered in the course of the Preliminary Investigation. This evidence will include both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. The burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination regarding responsibility rests on the University and not on the Parties. The Investigator will state specific factual findings in the Preliminary Report (e.g., “Complainant was incapacitated” or “Respondent believed that Complainant was not incapacitated”). The standard for determining each factual finding is the “preponderance of the evidence,” (i.e., that it is more likely than not that the factual finding is true). The Investigator will not state ultimate findings as to whether the Respondent has, or has not, violated one or more of the University’s policies. The Investigator will attach as exhibits to the Preliminary Report all Interview Summaries and any documentary evidence gathered and relied upon in the Preliminary Investigation that is directly related to the allegations in the Formal Complaint, including any evidence upon which the University does not intend to rely in reaching a determination regarding responsibility and any inculpatory or exculpatory evidence whether obtained from a Party or other source. The University cannot access, consider, disclose, or otherwise use a Party’s records that are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in the professional’s or paraprofessional’s capacity, or assisting in that capacity, and which are made and maintained in connection with the provision of treatment to the Party, unless the University obtains that Party’s voluntary, written consent to this evidence. When the Investigator determines that the Preliminary Investigation is complete, the Investigator will submit the Preliminary Report to the Coordinator. The Coordinator may require the Investigator to conduct additional investigation; if so, the Investigator will conduct additional investigation consistent with the following procedures:
The Investigator may conduct follow-up interviews with both Parties and witnesses based upon testimonial and documentary evidence gathered during the Preliminary Investigation. The Parties and witnesses can expect that, in these follow-up interviews, the Investigator will seek responses to specific allegations or evidence. To the extent additional material, witnesses or evidence are identified during Rebuttal Fact-Gathering, the Investigator will conduct additional interviews and gather additional evidence. Rebuttal Fact-Gathering may be repeated as necessary to ensure a complete gathering of evidence.
Notice of Findings and Response
Once the Coordinator has agreed that the Investigation is complete, the Coordinator will provide the Preliminary Report to the Parties for review, as soon as possible after receipt of the Preliminary Report from the Investigator. Neither the Complainant nor the Respondent (or their Advisors, including but not limited to family members and/or legal counsel) may copy, remove, photograph, print, image, videotape, record, or in any manner otherwise duplicate or remove the information provided.
The Parties may respond to the Preliminary Report; the Parties will submit any response within 10 calendar days of being notified of their opportunity to review the report. The Parties may respond in one or both of the following ways:
If neither of the Parties requests additional investigation, the Investigator will prepare the Final Report. If either (or both) Parties request additional investigation, the Investigator will review the request(s) in consultation with the Coordinator. The Investigator will conduct the requested additional investigation if the Coordinator determines that the request(s) will assist the Investigator in completing the investigation.
If the Investigator conducts additional investigation, the Investigator will prepare an Addendum to the Preliminary Report (“Addendum”). The Investigator will submit the Addendum to the Coordinator. The Coordinator may require the Investigator to conduct additional investigation before the Addendum is complete. Once the Coordinator has agreed that the Addendum is complete, the Coordinator will provide the Addendum to the Parties.
Once the investigation is complete, the Investigator will prepare a Final Report. The Final Report, if different from the Preliminary Report, will have attached as exhibits the testimonial and documentary evidence from the Preliminary Investigation, the Preliminary Report, the Addendum (if applicable), and all of the Parties’ responses throughout the Formal Resolution proceeding. Once the Investigator is satisfied that the Final Report is complete, the Investigator will submit the Final Report to the Coordinator. The Coordinator will send to each Party and the Party’s Advisor, if any, a copy of the Final Report in an electronic format or hard copy, for their review and response.
No earlier than 10 calendar days after sending the Final Report, the Coordinator will meet with the Complainant and Respondent individually. At the meeting the Coordinator will communicate the decision of the Coordinator on the findings and the sanctions (if any). The standard of proof will be preponderance of the evidence. If there is no objection by either Party to the findings and/or sanctions, the case is concluded. Parties will have 3 business days to submit to the Title IX Coordinator an objection regarding the findings and/or sanctions and request a live hearing on the matter. If no objections are submitted in writing within the 3 business days, the finding and/or sanctions are final.
Hearing (Hearing Panel)
If either of the Parties do not wish to participate in the Informal Resolution prior to an adjudication by the hearing panel, the Coordinator will schedule a hearing on the case not less than 10 (ten) Business Days from the meeting to discuss the findings with the Coordinator. (this is the continuation of what was inserted above – making it clear that the Parties are not waiving their right to a Live Hearing. So, might want to do a better job than I in weaving the above language into the process and then going on to the hearing process below.
The Coordinator will set the date and time of the hearing, appoint a hearing panel consisting of three (3) trained hearing panelists and notify the Parties of the hearing date and option to call witnesses to the proceeding. Three (3) panelists will serve on the panel and will ultimately make the determination by majority opinion as to whether or not, by the preponderance of the evidence the Respondent is responsible for the alleged Sexual Misconduct Policy violation. The third panelist will serve as the panel chair and is responsible for maintaining order during the hearing panel proceeding.
The hearing will be recorded. The hearing will be live, but, may be conducted with all parties physically in the same geographical location or, at the University’s discretion or request of either Party, any or all of the Parties may appear at the live hearing virtually, with sufficient technology to enable participants to simultaneously see and hear each other.
The hearing will not be conducted as a court proceeding. The Parties have the right to present their opening and closing statements as well as to present their factual position and for the Panel to question the Parties and witnesses presented. However, the Parties may not cross-examine each other. The Advisor for both Parties have the right to cross-examine the other Party and all witness and ask all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. 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 Chair of the hearing panel 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 conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party. 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.
If a Party or witness does not submit to cross-examination at the Live Hearing, the Hearing Panel must not rely on any statement of that Party or witness in reaching a determination regarding responsibility; provided, however, that the hearing panel cannot draw an inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a Party’s or witness’s absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.
Hearing Panel Determination
A written determination is required to be submitted by the hearing panel to the Title IX Coordinator, who will meet with the Respondent and Complainant separately to deliver the written determination. The written determination must include: (a) Identification of the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment , (b) 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, (c) Findings of fact supporting the determination, (d) A statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions the University imposes on the respondent, and whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the University’s education program or activity will be provided by the University to the Complainant , (e) the University appeal process.
Possible sanctions which may be assigned after a finding of Responsibility are those articulated in the Thomas University Student Handbook. This list is not exhaustive and may be modified to meet the particular circumstances of any given case:
Counseling – The committee may request that a student meet a specified number of counseling sessions with the (SAP) Student Assistance Program thru Archbold Counseling for issues including, but not limited to, anger management, substance abuse, and extenuating personal circumstances.
Appeal (Appeal Officer)
Both Parties may appeal a determination made by the Hearing Panel. If the Respondent or the Complainant chooses to appeal either the Sanctions or the hearing panel’s decision, they may do so by submitting a written appeal statement to the Title IX Coordinator within 3 business days of the date the hearing report is sent to the parties. The Title IX Coordinator will turn over to the VP of Academic Affairs who serves as the Appeal Officer. The three grounds for appeal are:
The appeal statement must identify the ground(s) for appeal. Note that an appeal is not a re-hearing of the case.
If the Appeal Officer determines that a ground of appeal is substantiated, the Appeal Officer will return the case to the Coordinator. When a case is returned to the Coordinator, the Coordinator may decide to dismiss the case (e.g., based on insufficient information to believe that a policy violation may have occurred), send the case to the original hearing panel for reconsideration, send the case to a new hearing panel with the same or different charges, and/or (re)implement any aspect of the disciplinary process. A different decision (i.e., the decision of responsibility and/or sanctions) may subsequently result. If the Appeal Officer finds the appeal is not substantiated, the decision of the hearing panel stands.