These procedures (“Procedures”) incorporate the definitions set forth in Policy 06-01.60 – Policy on Sexual Misconduct and may be amended without the need to amend the Policy.
These procedures identify the University’s administrative response when students are alleged to have committed a violation of the Policy prohibiting Sexual Misconduct.
Sexual Misconduct is an umbrella term that includes Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence, Sex Discrimination, Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Intimidation, Sexual Violence, and Stalking. The University takes steps to prevent the occurrence of Sexual Misconduct, fairly investigate allegations of Policy violations, and remedy discriminatory effects that may occur. Information about University programs that can identify resources for victims as well as promote awareness and prevention of Sexual Misconduct are available at www.towson.edu/TitleIX.
II. Reporting Sexual Misconduct
A. Reporting to the University
The University must receive notice to respond effectively and prevent Sexual Misconduct in the University Community. Please report or file a complaint of Sexual Misconduct in the following ways:
As described above, submit reports online, verbally, or in writing. No particular method or format is required. Your report should include as much pertinent information as possible (e.g., the time and place of the incident, a description of what occurred, the identity or a description of the Responding Party (if known), the names of potential witnesses (if known), etc.).
You may make an Anonymous Complaint (i.e., one without personally identifiable information). However by doing so, OIIE may be limited in its ability to investigate and address the complaint.
B. Right to Report or Decline to Report to Law Enforcement
A person who has experienced or witnessed Sexual Misconduct may choose to make a report to the University to pursue resolution under these Student Procedures and may also choose to make a report to law enforcement. Towson University Police (“TUPD”) can be reached at (410) 704-4444. As with the choice to report to the University, the choice to report to police or pursue criminal charges is solely the Reporting Party’s decision to make.
Individuals who experience or witness an incident involving Sexual Misconduct are encouraged to report the incident to law enforcement. Reporting to law enforcement does not preclude an individual from also reporting the incident to the University. Reports made to the University and law enforcement may be pursued simultaneously, though the outcome of one investigation does not determine the outcome of the other. In addition, TUPD may defer to another law enforcement agency (typically city or county law enforcement) based on the nature and location of the incident.
TUPD can assist individuals in reporting an incident of Sexual Misconduct. TUPD Officers are Responsible Employees under this Policy and will forward reports of Sexual Misconduct they receive to OIIE, regardless of whether the incident constitutes a crime under the law.
C. University’s Obligation to Investigate
In certain situations, the University may determine that public safety concerns require it to investigate alleged Sexual Misconduct even if either the Reporting Party or Responding Party chooses not to participate in the Investigation. Before making this decision, the University will act in good faith to assess the relevant circumstances. The University will communicate its decision to conduct an Investigation to both parties.
D. Amnesty for Certain Alcohol and Drug Violations
The safety of the University community is the University’s primary concern. Therefore, if a Reporting Party or witness was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at either the time of the alleged Sexual Misconduct and/or at the time they make the report, the University may opt to give that person amnesty. This means the University will not charge them for the underlying alcohol or drug offense. Decisions regarding amnesty are made at the discretion of the OSCCE.
Throughout the process, the Title IX Coordinator or designee, Investigator(s), and other University representatives will communicate and correspond directly with the parties, not a Support Person or attorney. The Parties are responsible for ensuring that Support Persons act consistent with the definition of a Support Person in the Code of Student Conduct and the Policy. Parties are also responsible for making sure appropriate authorization exists (e.g., authorization related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)) for the University to communicate the non-party participation requirements below to any Support Person.
A. Right to Participate (or Not Participate)
Both the Reporting Party and Responding Party may participate or decline to participate in the process. The Title IX Coordinator and relevant University staff determine whether a response to a report of Sexual Misconduct, including, without limitation, an Investigation, will proceed without the participation by one or both parties. Lack of participation by a party does not preclude a finding of responsibility for a Policy violation or the imposition of disciplinary action.
B. Support Person
Throughout the process described below, a party may choose one (1) Support Person to accompany them (at their own expense) to meeting(s) or event(s) related to an Investigation and resolution of a complaint. The Policy defines the role and responsibilities of a Support Person.
Someone acting as a Support Person should understand their role and responsibilities. This includes reviewing and adhering to the Policy. While providing emotional support to a party, a Support Person must act with decorum, keep confidential matters private, not speak on behalf of the party, and follow reasonable requests related to the process.
Witnesses are individuals who have factual information about an alleged violation of Policy. The University expects them to provide true and accurate information. Anyone can be a witness if they have relevant information. Witnesses should understand that some evidence may not be deemed relevant to an alleged Policy violation and therefore excluded from consideration. For more information, please see the Code of Student Conduct.
IV. Time Frame for Sexual Misconduct Process
The University strives to resolve complaints of Sexual Misconduct within a reasonable period of time. The University should document circumstances which impact its ability to complete an investigation or issue a decision.
V. Outreach to the Reporting Party
Upon receipt of a report or complaint, OIIE will ensure that the Reporting Party is provided with a copy of the Policy and Student Procedures, informed of their rights and responsibilities, and given the opportunity to participate in an Intake Meeting with the Title IX Coordinator or designee to discuss available options and resources.
VI. Initial Review of Report
Upon receipt of a report or complaint of Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will conduct an Initial Review of the reported information. The Initial Review will determine whether the reported conduct constitutes a potential violation of the Policy, whether further action is warranted based on the reported conduct, and whether the University has jurisdiction over the parties.
Factors considered during an Initial Review include, but are not limited to:
At the conclusion of the Initial Review and, if applicable, the Intake Meeting, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will identify the appropriate next steps, including but not limited to, a determination that:
This determination will be shared with the Reporting Party. As appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator and relevant University staff and administration will determine whether the response to a report, including, without limitation, an Investigation, will proceed regardless of the participation by one or both parties. A lack of participation by a party does not necessarily preclude a finding of a Policy violation or the imposition of appropriate disciplinary action.
VII. Intake Meeting
During the Intake Meeting, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will provide information about the Policy and these Student Procedures. The Title IX Coordinator or designee will also review the Reporting Party’s rights and responsibilities associated with the process, including:
Based on the available information, the Title IX Coordinator will assess the Reporting Party’s immediate safety and well-being and make appropriate referrals (e.g., to medical care, mental health counseling, etc.). The Reporting Party will receive information about community and campus resources and services. Interim Measures that are appropriate can be discussed and arranged. They will also have an opportunity to ask questions and seek additional information.
While the University cannot force a Reporting Party to meet with the Title IX Coordinator for an Intake Meeting, such a meeting enables the University to conduct a thorough Initial Review, described above, of the report/complaint and take appropriate action. Where a student does not wish to meet with the Title IX Coordinator or designee, the University will proceed with assessing the report and determining whether additional action is necessary regardless of participation from the Reporting Party.
A. Requests for Privacy and Decision to Investigate
A Reporting Party may request that their name or other information be kept private and not disclosed to alleged perpetrators or that no Investigation or disciplinary action be pursued to address the Sexual Misconduct, particularly in cases of Sexual Violence. The University evaluates such requests for privacy in light of its responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment.
While Anonymous Complaints are considered and the University respects privacy considerations, there are situations in which the University must override a request for privacy in order to meet its obligations. The University also must necessarily weigh the safety of the University Community and other factors, as noted above, in determining whether to proceed with an Investigation.
The University will maintain a confidential record of reports of sexual misconduct and related evidence, documents, records, and information pertaining to the investigation and resolution of the complaints. The records will be maintained in accordance with applicable policies, procedures and legal requirements. Records may be subpoenaed by law enforcement authorities as part of a parallel investigation into the same conduct, or required to be produced through other compulsory legal process. A student’s education records are also subject to FERPA, which with certain exceptions limits disclosure of information in such records without the student’s consent.
The University’s ability to fully investigate and respond to a complaint may be limited if the Reporting Party requests that their name not be disclosed to the Responding Party or declines to participate in an Investigation. If a Reporting Party requests their name or other identifiable information not be disclosed and/or that no further action be taken, the Title IX Coordinator will seek to honor such requests, balancing the Reporting Party’s wishes for privacy with the University’s obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all members of the University community.
B. Interim Measures
Upon receiving a report of Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator may impose Interim Measures to protect the University Community. After an initial report of Sexual Misconduct, OIIE shall, as appropriate, offer and implement reasonable Interim Measures. Interim Measures are reasonable actions offered on a case-by-case basis designed to support and meet the needs of the individuals involved relative to the specific allegations of Sexual Misconduct in order to ensure their safety so that they may continue to access their education and/or workplace. Interim Measures may be provided even if a Reporting Party does not ultimately file a complaint resulting in an Investigation.
If a Reporting Party does not file a complaint and Interim Measures are instituted, the time period during which the Interim Measures are provided shall be determined on a case-by-case basis within the discretion of OIIE.
Interim Measures may be applied to the Reporting Party, Responding Party, and other involved Towson University community members as appropriate to ensure their safety and well-being, and to limit undeterred campus, educational and employment access. Interim Measures may be requested by the Reporting Party or the Responding Party, or the University can initiate the Interim Measures in the absence of a request, at any time, during the process. Interim measures are not intended to be punitive nor are they intended to be permanent resolutions.
The Title IX Coordinator manages and oversees the provision of Interim Measures on behalf of the University. The University will take appropriate, responsive, and prompt action to enforce Interim Measures and to respond to any reports about the inadequacy or failure of another Towson University community member to abide by the Interim Measures. Interim Measures may be withdrawn or amended.
2. Emergency Suspension
As noted above, a Responding Party may be placed on an Emergency Suspension or otherwise restricted from University Property as an Interim Measure consistent with these Student Procedures. For the purposes of these Student Procedures, “Emergency Suspension” is defined consistent with the Code of Student Conduct [Code of Conduct].
In cases involving an allegation of Sexual Misconduct, Emergency Suspensions shall be initiated by the Vice President for Student Affairs, or a designee, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator.
C. Determination of Next Steps
At the conclusion of the Initial Review and, if applicable, the Intake Meeting, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will identify the appropriate next steps, including but not limited to, a determination that:
This determination will be shared with the Reporting Party. As appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator and relevant University staff and administration will determine whether the response to a report of Sexual Misconduct, including without limitation, an Investigation, will proceed without the participation by one or both parties. A lack of participation by a party does not necessarily preclude a finding of a Policy violation or the imposition of appropriate disciplinary action.
VIII. OIIE Investigation
A. Investigation Process
OIIE conducts an initial review of the report to determine whether (i) the University has jurisdiction over the alleged misconduct and/or Responding Party and (ii) the alleged misconduct may constitute a violation of the Policy. If the University has jurisdiction and the misconduct may constitute a violation, OIIE may conduct an Investigation.
An Investigation is an impartial, fact-gathering process. It is intended to provide the parties an opportunity to share their perspectives and identify information they believe relevant to the allegations. The Investigator interviews the parties and/or witnesses separately. They also gather physical evidence, such as documents, communications (including correspondence, email, text messages, social media, or other digital information), recordings (including audio and video), and other records, as appropriate and available.
Prior to commencing any Investigation, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will provide a Notice of Investigation to both parties. This notice should include information which reasonably informs the parties of the “who, what, when, and where” of the alleged misconduct to the extent they are known. Such information generally includes, for example, the names of the parties; date, time and location of the incident; and a description of the nature of the alleged misconduct.
The Notice of Investigation also informs the parties of their rights under the Policy and these procedures. They each have a due process right to:
The Notice of Investigation also informs the parties of their right to attend (separately) a meeting with a University-appointed Investigator. At this meeting, the parties may ask questions and learn more about the Investigation and associated adjudication processes. When a party does not attend a meeting with OIIE or the Investigator, the University may proceed with an Investigation.
The Title IX Coordinator will designate an Investigator(s) to conduct a prompt, thorough, fair, and impartial investigation. An Investigator reviews the facts, conducts interviews of the parties and witnesses, collects relevant evidence, and prepares reports.
Investigators will interview and receive evidence from the parties and witnesses. Evidence is relevant when a reasonable person would likely accept the information as having probative value about the underlying allegations. An Investigator may exercise discretion in not interviewing a witness or collecting a piece of evidence that is reasonably likely to lack relevance to the Investigation.
B. Special Considerations
Information related to the prior sexual history of either party is generally not relevant to the determination of a Policy violation. Accordingly, the University will not use an individual’s sexual history for purposes of illustrating their character or reputation. However, prior sexual history between the parties may be relevant in very limited circumstances. For example, where there was a prior or ongoing consensual relationship between the parties and where Consent is at issue, evidence as to the parties’ prior sexual history may be relevant to assess the manner and nature of communications between the parties and whether Consent occurred. The Investigator will determine the relevance of prior sexual history and inform the parties if information about the parties’ prior sexual history is deemed relevant.
At OIIE’s discretion, multiple reports may be consolidated in one investigation if the information related to each incident is relevant in reaching a determination. Matters may be consolidated where they involve multiple Reporting Parties, multiple Responding Parties, or related conduct involving the same parties, provided that it does not delay the prompt investigation and resolution of complaints.
C. Preliminary Investigative Report
At or near the conclusion of the Investigation, the Investigator will draft a written investigation report summarizing the information gathered (e.g., the “who, what, when, and where”). This report will also synthesize the areas of agreement and disagreement between the parties, witnesses, and/or other evidence.
Each party receives a reasonable opportunity to review and respond to the Preliminary Investigative Report. Upon receipt of notice to review the Preliminary Investigative Report, a party has three (3) business days to schedule an appointment to review that document. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the parties should provide their comments, additional information (including new evidence), and/or questions (about witnesses, evidence, etc.) to the Investigator within three (3) business days after their appointment. Evidence not submitted at this time may not be considered by the Hearing Officer.
D. Final Investigative Report
After receiving input from the parties regarding the Preliminary Investigative Report, the Investigators will create a Final Investigative Report. The parties may request an opportunity to review this document at OIIE. OIIE forwards a copy of the Final Investigative Report to OSCCE.
IX. OSCCE Disciplinary Process
A. Notice of Charges and Right to Hearing
Any student alleged to have violated the Code of Student Conduct (“Code”) will receive written notice in the form of a Notice of Disciplinary Charge. This notice provides general information about the conduct process, including an invitation to a Conduct Resolution Meeting and that a student has the right to a University hearing.
B. Conduct Resolution Meeting
OSCCE uses Conduct Resolution Meetings to help reduce the need for unnecessary meetings or hearings. Such a meeting is intended as a non-adversarial discussion between the Responding Party and University Official designated by the OSCCE Director. After a Conduct Resolution Meeting, the Responding Party may elect to waive their right to a hearing and accept responsibility for the alleged Code violation. If either the Reporting or Responding Party wish to proceed with a hearing, the University will follow it hearing processes and procedures.
C. University Hearing
Students are entitled to a University hearing when a charged Code violation may result in suspension, expulsion, or removal from on-campus housing. The following procedural guidelines shall be observed for all University hearings held in cases of alleged violations of this Policy.
X. Sanctions and Remedies
The Code defines the range of sanctions for a violation of this Policy. See Code Section VIIII (Sanctions). Potential sanctions include, but are not necessarily limited to, alteration of class schedule and/or housing assignment, restriction from entering specified buildings/areas, censure, loss of privileges, restitution, probation, educational sanctions, removal from on-campus housing, suspension, dismissal, and/or expulsion.
Both parties have the right to appeal the finding of the Hearing Officer, as well as the sanction(s) issued by the OSCCE. Appeals are heard by the Student Appeals Committee. The decision made by the Student Appeals Committee is final.
A. Grounds for Appeal
Mere dissatisfaction with the Hearing Officer’s finding or the sanction imposed is not a valid basis for appeal. Instead, a party may only appeal on the following grounds:
B. Appeal Timeline
Any finding, disciplinary/adjudicative determination or sanction may be appealed in writing within five (5) business days of date of the Decision Letter to the OSCCE. Failure to appeal within the allotted time will render the original decision final and conclusive.
When OSCCE receives an appeal, it will notify the other party and provide them with an opportunity to review the written appeal and any supporting documentation. The other party then has five (5) business days to submit their response (if any) to the appeal.
C. Appeal Format and Content
All requests for appeals must be submitted in writing to the OSCCE in one of the following ways:
Office of Student Conduct & Civility Education
8000 York Road
Administration Building, Room 236
Towson, MD 21252
The appeal must specifically state the basis for appeal and include relevant supporting documentation. The party appealing should address the central issue of the appeal directly, as irrelevant information will not be considered. If the appeal is a response to the other party’s appeal, the appeal should act as a response, either in support or in opposition, to the central issues of the other party’s appeal.
Upon receipt of the request for an appeal, OSSCE will notify and refer the matter to the Student Appeals Committee for review. The Student Appeals Committee is a University committee comprised of faculty, staff, and/or students. It convenes to review appeals of certain student disciplinary decisions, including cases involving Sexual Misconduct. For the purposes of reviewing Sexual Misconduct appeals, student members of the Student Appeals Committee will be recused from this role.
Decisions regarding appeals are typically made within fifteen (15) business days after receipt of all necessary documentation. The Responding Party and the Reporting Party will receive the decision of the appeal in writing. All decisions made by the Student Appeals Committee are final. The imposition of sanctions will not be deferred during the appeal process unless the student presents a compelling reason to the Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee.
XII. Final Outcome
After any appeal process has concluded or the time for an appeal has passed with no appeal submitted, whichever is later, OSCCE will promptly notify the Reporting and Responding Parties, in writing, of the final outcome. OSSCE will also notify OIIE.
XIII. Records Retention
OIIE will maintain records of all reports/complaints, Initial Reviews, Interim Measures, and Investigations arising under the Policy. OSSCE will maintain disciplinary records for all cases that result in a finding of a Policy violation (including appeals). All records are maintained consistent with University policy and state and federal law regarding student education records.
XIV. Post-Resolution Follow Up
After a sanction or remedy is issued and if the Reporting Party agrees, OIIE or OSSCE may periodically contact the Reporting Party to ensure the Prohibited Conduct has ended and to determine whether additional remedies are necessary. The Reporting Party may decline future contact at any time. OIIE or OSSCE may periodically contact the Responding Party to assure compliance with any sanctions that have been imposed.
Please report any violation of a sanction, Interim Measure, and/or remedy imposed under the Policy, Code, or applicable procedures to OIIE or OSSCE.