Sexual Misconduct FAQs

Get answers to common questions about sexual misconduct definitions, reporting, and procedures at Towson University.

Why does the Policy sometimes refer to “sexual harassment” and other times refer to “sexual assault” or “other sexual misconduct”?

Federal and state laws, including Title IX, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and sexual assault is considered to be a form of sexual harassment. Other sexual misconduct that may not be prohibited by Title IX, may still be a violation of the Policy, the code of student conduct, or employee standards of conduct.

What is a “hostile environment” in the context of a sexual harassment claim?

A hostile environment interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities.

What if the sexual harassment, sexual assault or other sexual misconduct does not occur on campus or interfere with the ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities, but involves TU affiliates?

While off-campus sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct not associated with a University program or activity is not governed by federal Title IX regulations, the University may still consider the effects of off-campus conduct as a violation of the Policy, the code of student conduct, or employee standards of conduct even if it does not limit the ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or does not occur on campus.

Does the University employ a subjective or objective analysis in determining whether there has been a “hostile environment” in the context of a sexual harassment claim.

Both. In order to find a hostile environment sufficient to make out a violation of University Policy, the University must find, from both an objective and a subjective perspective, that the conduct was unwelcome and that the unwelcome conduct was sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive that it created a hostile environment. The University must determine that both (1) a reasonable person considering all the circumstances would find the conduct unwelcome and the environment hostile, and (2) the reporting party viewed them as such.

Who is responsible for notifying the Title IX Coordinator about possible sexual or gender-based harassment?

Certain University officials other than those who are prohibited from making such notifications because of a legal confidentiality obligation (Counseling Center Staff and Mental health clinicians when providing services as sexual assault counselors, domestic violence counselors, or under a clinical license; lawyers providing legal advice to clients, and clergy acting in his/her professional capacity hold such a privilege) must promptly notify the Title IX Coordinator about possible sexual or gender-based harassment. This means that if those University officials learn about a possible incident, they need to contact the Title IX Coordinator, who will determine what steps, if any, to take next. Individuals who are responsible for making such notifications include: deans; administrative and professional staff at all Schools and Units; those responsible for residential life (e.g., Faculty Deans, Resident Deans and Tutors, Resident Advisors); coaches and assistant coaches; other personnel who work directly with students such as those who are involved with student clubs and organizations, career services, academic support, etc.; and faculty and others who teach students, such as graduate student teaching fellows.

Responsible University officials are obligated to report sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct pursuant to University policy. Just because an individual has a reporting obligation under University policy does NOT mean that the individual has the authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the University under federal Title IX regulations.

If I speak with a University official about possible sexual or gender-based harassment, do I have to pursue informal resolution or a formal complaint?

No. Speaking with a University official, even the Title IX Coordinator or someone who is responsible for notifying the Title IX Coordinator, does not mean that you will need to participate in an informal resolution or file a formal complaint. The University encourages all persons who believe they may have been the subject of sexual or gender-based harassment to speak with an appropriate University official about the incident because, even if no informal process is commenced or formal complaint is filed, that information will help the University identify any concerns about harassment and work to address them. Speaking to a University officer will allow any student affected to be supported by the School, and also will allow School and University officials to consider whether there are broader issues for the community that need to be addressed.

Can my name be kept confidential if I speak with someone who is responsible for notifying the Title IX Coordinator about possible sexual or gender-based harassment?

The University respects the privacy concerns of those who may be the subject of or witness to incidents of harassment, but the University also has an obligation to keep the community safe and to address incidents of alleged harassment that are formally reported or that puts the community at risk. University employees who have an obligation to report will need to provide the Title IX Coordinator relevant information about the allegation, including the identities of the individuals involved (if they know) and the nature of the conduct. This does not mean that an informal resolution must be pursued or a formal complaint must be filed. Moreover, even when someone has an obligation to report to the Title IX Coordinator, University officials will protect and respect privacy and will share information on a need-to-know basis. Similarly, the Title IX Coordinator and the Title IX Office will respect the sensitivity of this information and share it with others only on a need-to-know basis.

May I have a lawyer serve as my personal advisor if I am a party to a formal complaint?

Yes. Although neither the reporting party (the person alleged to be a victim of sexual harassment) nor the responding party (the person alleged to have committed the sexual harassment) is required to have an attorney serve in the role of personal advisor, each is permitted to do so. It should be noted that the advisor has a limited role in the investigatory, hearing, and appeal process. An attorney acting as an advisor may not speak on behalf of their advisee during any interview or hearing, and is not permitted to raise objections, argue in support of a party’s position, or otherwise “represent” a party during the process.

Will the reporting party or responding party be allowed to question each other during cross examination?

No. Only a party’s Advisor is permitted to ask the other party and any witnesses relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. An Advisor is a party’s proxy during the hearing; the Advisor is not “representing” the party. The role of the Advisor is to relay their advisee’s desired questions to the other party and witnesses.

Can interim measures be put in place at any time? Can they be modified later?

Yes. When appropriate, the University can put interim measures in place even if a formal complaint has not been filed. Interim measures are subject to review and revision at any time prior to the conclusion of an investigation. Following an investigation, additional measures may be put in place, and interim measures may become permanent.

What are interim measures, and how can students access them?

Title IX Coordinators are available to discuss and help arrange appropriate interim measures. Interim measures are individualized supports to help students who may have experienced incidents of sexual or gender-based harassment participate in campus life at Towson University and continue with their studies. Interim measures may be considered or implemented at any time, and may include, as appropriate:

  • Extensions of time or other course-related adjustments
  • Alterations to course schedules or work schedules
  • Working with HUPD to arrange for a campus escort
  • Restrictions on contact between parties
  • Changes in housing
  • Leaves of absence
  • Increased monitoring of certain areas of the campus

Will both parties have access to the materials used in reaching the final conclusions?

Yes. During the course of the investigation, both the reporting party and the responding party will have the opportunity to respond to all information used by the Investigative Team in reaching its findings of fact. They will also have the opportunity to provide the Investigative Team with any additional information that they have. This information, like other information received from the reporting party and responding party during the investigatory process, will be shared with the other. In addition, each party will have the opportunity to review and comment on the draft investigative report, and the Investigative Team will evaluate the comments before issuing a final report.

The Policy and Procedures provide the option of an appeal by either party to the decision and/or sanctions. Who handles these appeals?

The Title IX Coordinator has designated the responsibility for addressing an appeal to an appellate officer chosen from a panel of properly trained appellate officers. The appellate officer will be drawn in each case from a standing panel of hearing and appellate officers, and the identity of the appellate officer will be shared with the parties prior to that appellate officer hearing the appeal.

How does the University keep records of investigations, hearings, and appeals associated with the Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct Policy?

OIIE will maintain records of investigations, hearing, and appeals sufficient to show, where applicable, the individuals involved, investigative steps taken, information reviewed, decisions made, and the reasoning for the decisions. After seven years, the University may archive or otherwise dispose of these records in a manner that will ensure appropriate confidentiality.

How would the University respond to a report of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, when the responding party is not affiliated with the University?

Even though the University’s ability to take direct action against a person who is not affiliated with the University may be limited, the University will take steps to provide appropriate supports for the reporting party and, where appropriate, the broader community. This may include offering available support services to the reporting party, notifying the reporting party of the right to file a complaint with the responding party’s school (if the responding party is a student) or local law enforcement, and taking any other appropriate steps to protect the campus.

Where is the Title IX office located and what are its hours?

The Title IX office is located on the 2nd floor of the Administration Building, Suite 214 It is open from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday. You can also reach Title IX by calling (410) 704-0203 or emailing .

Where is the TU Counseling Center and how do I make a confidential report?

The Counseling Center supports all TU students and is located at Ward and West on the 2nd floor of the Health and Counseling Centers. It is open Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., with additional walk-in hours Tuesday & Thursday until 6:00 p.m. and Wednesday until 7:00 p.m. You can also reach the Counseling Center by calling (410) 704-2512. The Counseling Center is a confidential support and advocacy resource for members of the community who have experienced sexual harassment, including sexual assault. Off-campus confidential reports can also be made 24/7 to TurnAround, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to serving victims of rape, child sexual assault, domestic violence, and adult survivors of child sexual abuse at 443-279-0379.

Can I file a complaint anonymously and remain anonymous during an investigation?

If you file a complaint and wish to remain anonymous during the investigation, it may significantly impact the University’s ability to conduct an investigation. In some circumstances, a request for anonymity may mean an investigation cannot go forward. In other circumstances, the Title IX Officer may determine that further investigation is necessary (for example, if there is a potential risk of a hostile environment for others in the community), in which case you will be informed that the disclosure of your identity is necessary for the investigatory process.

If I agree to be a witness in an investigation, may I remain anonymous?

The name of a witness proposed by a reporting party or responding party, like other information received from each during the investigatory process, is shared with the other party. Prospective witnesses are assured that the Policy prohibits retaliation against anyone who participates in the process, including a witness, and your Title IX Coordinator can discuss with you measures that may be taken to facilitate your participation. Retaliation can be reported under the Policy, and as desired and as appropriate, may be the subject of a Title IX complaint.

What information is shared with witnesses?

Title IX Investigators conduct witness interviews for the purpose of gathering and assessing information about the incident(s). Information about the reporting party, including the names of the people involved, is shared with witnesses only to the extent necessary to gather relevant information.

What type of information does OIIE consider during an investigation?

In addition to any statements of the parties, the following is a non-exhaustive list of information that may be considered, if relevant and available, during an investigation:

  • Witness statements
  • Photographs
  • Text messages, chat, social media, and similar materials
  • Recordings
  • Transcripts and other performance evaluations
  • Medical records
  • Police reports
  • Court records

Investigators also may visit the location(s) where the incident(s) occurred to better understand the information gathered during the course of the investigation.

Can records associated with an investigation, hearing, or appeal be subpoenaed or obtained in lawsuits?

Yes. If a lawsuit is filed, records associated with any investigation, hearing, or appeal may have to be given to courts, lawyers, expert witnesses or others involved with the legal proceedings. The Title IX Coordinator also may be required to release records to government agencies that are investigating the University’s compliance with state and/or federal law.

What is the typical timeframe for a final resolution of a formal complaint?

The University endeavors to conclude its investigation, grievance and appeal process within six (6) months from the filing of a Formal Complaint. However, this process may be extended to ensure the integrity and completeness of the process. Extra time may be needed to accommodate party or witness availability, to comply with requests by external law enforcement, or as a result of the complexity of the investigation and the severity or extent of reported misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator or designated representative will keep the parties informed of the progress of the investigation.

Does filing a complaint with the Title IX Coordinator mean I have also reported the incident to the Towson University Police Department (TUPD)?

No. Filing a complaint with ODR does not mean that you automatically have filed a complaint with TUPD. The Title IX Office is not part of TUPD. Your Title IX Coordinator can put you in touch with TUPD should you wish to file a police report. While the University encourages reporting to both, the choice belongs to each individual, as does the decision about whether to file a formal complaint with the Title IX Office and/or file criminal charges.

Where is TUPD located and how can I contact them?

Towson University Police Department is located in the Public Safety Building.

Contact information for TUPD is as follows:

  • Emergency Phone: 410-704-4444
  • Non- Emergency Phone: 410-704-2134
  • Administrative Phone: 410-704-2505
  • Fax: 410-704-2976
  • Email:

Where can I get help after hours?

Campus Police Phone: 410-704-4444

The Campus Police are able to reach Counseling Center staff as needed in an emergency, for consultation or other forms of help.

Alternatively, you can proceed directly to the nearest hospital emergency room. We have a number of hospitals that are within walking distance of campus, including St. Joseph's Medical Center and Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Off-Campus Resources and Telephone Numbers

Baltimore County Crisis Response

Phone: 410-931-2214

Baltimore City Crisis Response

Phone: 410-433-5175

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Telephone Hotline

A telephone counseling service that uses volunteer and peer counselors, funded by Baltimore County.

Phone: 410-531-6677

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

A 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis.

Phone: 800-273-TALK (8255)

TurnAround

A private nonprofit organization dedicated to serving victims of rape, child sexual assault, domestic violence, and adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

Phone: 443-279-0379

Violence Hotline Center, Inc.

The 24/7 service is free and they are able to connect you with local resources.

Phone: 1-800-799-7233