Submitting a Complaint
Dismissal or Withdrawal of Formal Complaint
1.0 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Purpose
The purpose of the Title IX Grievance Procedure is to provide a prompt, impartial, and unbiased response to Formal Complaints made pursuant to the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Assault, Interpersonal Violence, and Stalking policy (Policy). Specifically, this process will address Formal Complaints of Sexual Harassment, Gender-based Harassment, Prohibited Intimate Relationships, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Retaliation (together Prohibited Conduct).
This procedure is grounded in fairness and support for all parties, and includes procedural protections that ensure nondiscrimination, adequate notice and meaningful opportunities to participate. The University makes the presumption that reports and formal complaints are made in good faith and presumes that the Respondent is not responsible for the alleged Prohibited conduct until a determination is made at the conclusion of this procedure. This procedure is also in compliance with applicable legal requirements including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; relevant provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act; and other applicable federal and Rhode Island state laws.
This procedure applies to Students and Employees as defined in the Policy when:
- the conduct that occurs, in the United States, on property owned, leased, used, or controlled by Brown University; and/or
- the conduct occurs off-campus, in the United States, in the context of a program, activity, or location in which Brown exercises substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the alleged Prohibited Conduct occurred, including but not limited to off-campus research, internship, mentorship, summer session, clerkship, graduate student fellowship or other affiliated programs.
Exempt from these procedures is Prohibited Conduct engaged in by an individual unaffiliated with the University or outside of the University’s control and/or conduct that occurs (a.) abroad, or (b.) outside the context of a Brown University employment, education, or research program or activity. Formal Complaints related to the aforementioned conduct (a. & b.) will be addressed through the appropriate Code of Conduct and/or policy.
Note: Complaints involving student Respondents who are participants in [email protected] or Pre-College Programs should refer to the policies and procedures governing students enrolled in those programs.
2.1 Initial Assessment
When the Title IX Program Officer receives a report or Formal Complaint of alleged Prohibited Conduct, they will conduct an initial assessment to gain a basic understanding of the nature and circumstances of the allegation. This is ordinarily a meeting, which may be held virtually, with the reporting party or Complainant, if different, where the Title IX Program Officer will provide the reporting party written information about campus resources and response options whether the offense occurred on or off campus. Such information will include, but not be limited to, a written explanation of their rights, disciplinary options on campus, how to report to local law enforcement, the importance of the preservation of evidence, confidentiality parameters, and remedial interim protective and support measures available.
The Title IX Program Officer will use the report and knowledge gathered in this meeting to assess if further risk of harm exists for the reporting party, Complainant, or the campus community; or if the report demonstrates a pattern of Prohibited Conduct involving the same Respondent. If any of these conditions exist, the Title IX Program Officer will take the appropriate interim action.
Note: In all cases in this process when the term “Title IX Program Officer or other University official” is used, the term shall also mean a designee.
2.2 Filing a Complaint
A Complainant may submit a Formal Complaint at any time while they are enrolled or employed at Brown or attempting to participate in Brown’s programs and activities. A Formal Complaint is a request for an investigation and initiation of this grievance procedure. Only a Complainant or the Title IX Program Officer can submit a Formal Complaint. A Complainant who wishes to proceed with this procedure must submit a written and signed document (in hard copy or electronically) against a Respondent that details the incident in which the Prohibited Conduct by the Respondent is alleged. A Formal Complaint must be submitted to the Title IX Program Officer.
2.2.1 Initial Assessment of the Formal Complaint
Upon receipt of the Formal Complaint, the Title IX Program Officer will make the following determinations to decide upon the applicability of policies:
- Could the facts set forth by the Formal Complaint, if substantiated, constitute conduct prohibited by the Policy?;
- Is the Complainant participating in or attempting to participate in an educational program, employment, or other activity of Brown University?;
- Is the Respondent a Covered Person as defined in the Policy?;
- Did the alleged Prohibited Conduct occur against a person in the United States?; and
- Did Brown University exercise substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the alleged Prohibited Conduct?
If the answer to any question is “NO”, then the Policy and this procedure do not apply to the Formal Complaint. The Formal Complaint will be referred to the appropriate policy, Code, or University Office.
If the answer to each question is “YES”, then the Policy and this procedure applies, and the Title IX Office has the authority to investigate and resolve the Formal Complaint.
2.3 Standard of Evidence
In all stages of the process, Brown University applies the preponderance of the evidence standard (more likely than not) when determining whether the Policy has been violated.
2.4 Use of an Advisor
Complainants and Respondents are entitled to be accompanied and assisted by an adviser at meetings, investigation interviews, and, if applicable, a subsequent hearing. An adviser is an individual of the Complainant’s or Respondent’s choosing, including an attorney, to provide support during the complaint process. The parties are not limited to one adviser throughout the process; however, only one adviser may be present at each meeting or interview. Accommodations, including scheduling of interviews or hearings, will not be made for advisers if the accommodation creates an unduly delay in the process, which is considered to be a delay of three (3) or more business days.
During meetings, interviews, and the investigation process, advisers may not speak for or answer questions on behalf of their party, although they may ask to take a break briefly to provide consultation.
During a hearing, advisers may ask questions on behalf of party during the cross-examination phase of the hearing. An adviser’s active role is limited to the questioning during the cross-examination phase only. An adviser cannot speak to the hearing panel or other participants in the hearing or ask questions in any other step of the hearing unless it is to request a brief break to provide private consultation to their party.
A pool of Brown University faculty and staff are trained as process advisers. Process advisers are available to the Complainant or Respondent upon request, subject to the process adviser’s availability. There is no requirement that the adviser is chosen from this pool or be an individual from the Brown University community.
2.5 Time Frame for Reporting
The University will accept a report of Prohibited Conduct at any time, although the University’s ability to investigate may be limited by the passage of time. There is no time limit on submitting a Formal Complaint; however, a Complainant seeking to use this procedure must be participating in or attempting to participate in an educational program, employment, or other activity of Brown at the time of filing a Formal Complaint. The Respondent must also be participating in an educational program, employment, or other activity of Brown at the time in which the Formal Complaint is received.
If the Complainant and/or Respondent is no longer affiliated with Brown (e.g., a report is made after a student is no longer enrolled or graduated or an employee is no longer employed by Brown), the University will provide reasonably available remedial measures as appropriate, will assist the Complainant in identifying external reporting options, and may take appropriate action to address the Prohibited Conduct.
Brown University may offer amnesty to Complainants, Respondents, reporting parties, and witnesses who disclose the personal ingestion of alcohol or other drugs in violation of the University Alcohol and Drug Policy and/or disclose a violation of COVID-19 requirements when making a report of Prohibited Conduct or participating in an investigation unless the University determines there is malicious intent. Although amnesty safeguards the individual from a disciplinary notation or finding of responsible for a policy violation, it does not exempt the University from taking appropriate action to address the conduct and/or mitigate future violations.
2.7 Conflict of Interest
The Title IX Program Officer, investigator, hearing panel, and other decision makers will be free from conflicts of interest and receive training on identifying and mitigating explicit and implicit bias. The Title IX Office checks for conflict of interest with the parties, investigator, hearing officer, and decision makers. Individuals can disclose potential or actual conflicts as they arise to Title IX Program Officer.
2.8 Informal Resolution
An informal resolution is an alternative to the investigation and adjudication model and generally involves a facilitated resolution that is acceptable to the Complainant and Respondent. A full investigation of the allegation is not conducted in the informal resolution process; however, the details of the allegation will be gathered to allow the University to engage in an assessment of risk. An informal resolution can be the full and final resolution to a Formal Complaint.
An informal resolution can be requested by a Complainant or Respondent at any time after a Formal Complaint has been submitted up to the start of a Title IX hearing. Generally, informal resolutions are pursued when the Complainant and Respondent, having been fully informed of all available options, has explicitly and voluntarily made that choice. An informal resolution process is voluntary for the both Complainant and the Respondent. Engaging in the informal resolution process is not an admission of responsibility for the allegation or an admission of the falsehood of the allegations. The existence of an informal resolution is not viewed as a finding against the Respondent. If an informal resolution process is ended, any information obtained may be used in a subsequent investigation of the Formal Complaint.
The Complainant or Respondent may withdraw from an informal resolution process at any time before its completion. If an informal resolution process is ended prior to its completion, any information obtained will not be used in a subsequent investigation of the Formal Complaint.
Once a Formal Complaint has been resolved through an informal resolution process, the matter will be closed. This means allegations resolved through an informal resolution will not advance through the formal resolution process unless the terms of the informal resolution are broken or incomplete. If a term of the informal resolution is broken or incomplete, the information obtained may be submitted as evidence in a subsequent investigation involving the Complainant and/or Respondent.
For some limited types of Prohibited Conduct, an informal resolution may include mediation. Mediation may not be an appropriate option for cases involving a report of sexual assault and/or relationship and interpersonal violence, nor for circumstances involving severe misconduct.
In all cases, the Title IX Program Officer will have the discretion to determine whether an informal resolution or mediation is appropriate to the circumstances. The University will generally allow only one informal resolution per Respondent. Informal resolutions are not permitted between student Complainants and Employee Respondents.
2.8.1 Notice of the Formal Complaint
The Title IX Program Officer will provide the Complainant or Respondent written notice of the other party’s interest in resolving a Formal Complaint through the informal resolution process. Written notice will include a copy of the Formal Complaint, the Prohibited Conduct at issue, and a summary of the guidelines to an informal resolution and the participant’s rights in the process. The Complainant or Respondent will have five (5) business days to respond to the informal resolution request, indicating their interest in participating in the informal process. In the instance when a party does not reply to the notice or a party does not voluntarily agree to participate in the informal resolution process, the informal resolution process will end and the University will begin an investigation into the Formal Complaint.
2.8.2 Privacy of Informal Resolution
The existence of an informal resolution and/or the agreed upon terms is considered private information maintained in the Title IX Office. The existence of an informal resolution and/or the agreed upon terms may be shared with a limited circle of individuals in the University who “need to know” in order to (i.) assist in implementing the agreed upon terms, (ii.) monitor the agreed upon terms, (iii.) engage in a risk assessment involving the Complainant or Respondent, (iv.) implement support or protective measures, or (v.) perform University operations.
The Title IX Program Officer may use the information obtained during an informal resolution process as evidence when investigating the Formal Complaint when the terms of an informal resolution are broken or not complete.
The Title IX Program Officer may also use the information obtained during an informal resolution as evidence when investigating a Formal Complaint if a subsequent allegation of Prohibited Conduct involving the same Respondent is made and the alleged Prohibited Conduct is distinctively similar to the conduct alleged in the informal resolution process. If this occurs, the relevant portion of the Formal Complaint may be shared with an investigator and the Complainant may be called as a witness.
2.8.3 Acceptance of Responsibility for Impact
As a component of the informal resolution process involving Students as the Complainant and Respondent, the Student Respondent must accept responsibility for the harm or impact caused by the Prohibited Conduct alleged in the Formal Complaint. Accepting responsibility for the harm or impact does not mean the Student Respondent accepts responsibility for violating of University policy.
A Student Respondent who is interested in accepting responsibility for a policy violation is welcome to do so and should note accepting responsibility for Prohibited Conduct may be considered factual evidence in a Formal Complaint investigation when an informal resolution is not reached or the terms are not completed or breached.
2.8.4 Developing Terms of the Informal Resolution
The Complainant and Respondent may propose terms for the informal resolution. The terms should be designed to remedy the adverse effects the Prohibited Conduct alleged has on the Complainant and/or to restore the Complainant’s equal access to the programs and activities of Brown. Informal resolutions involving faculty and staff will include a supervisor, Senior Dean, Office of the Provost, or University Human Resources who may also suggest proposed terms.
The Title IX Program Officer will review the proposed and final terms and will remove those terms that are not permissible under University policy or practice and/or federal or state law. The Title IX Program Officer may consult with the relevant University officials such as a supervisor, Department Chair, Senior Dean, Office of the Provost, Campus Life or University Human Resources when determining the permissibility of a proposed term(s).
After the Title IX Program Officer’s review, the parties will have five (5) business days from the date of delivery of the informal agreement to review the terms. They should indicate their willingness to accept all, some, or none of the proposed terms. They may also propose alternative strategies to meet a specific term they reject.
The Title IX Program Officer will send the Complainant and/or Respondent a copy of the other party’s response to the proposed terms. The Complainant or Respondent will have a subsequent five (5) business days from the date of delivery of the new terms to consider and respond to the revised terms.
The informal agreement is reached when both parties independently and voluntarily come to agreement on terms. Upon agreement and signature (in hard copy or electronically) by both the Complainant and Respondent, the Formal Complaint is considered resolved and closed.
2.8.5 Violations of the Informal Resolution
The Complainant and Respondent will be asked to identify and agree upon the consequences for violating the terms of the informal resolution. The Title IX Program Officer will consult with the relevant University officials such as a supervisor, Department Chair, Senior Dean, Office of the Provost, or University Human Resources when determining the permissibility or appropriateness of the proposed consequences. If the consequences for violating the informal resolution are not determined, the matter the matter will continue in the Formal Resolution Process.
2.8.6 Right of Appeal
The informal resolution is grounded in the voluntary participation of the Complainant and Respondent. For this reason, there is no right of appeal associated with the informal resolution process.
2.8.7 Time Frame for the Informal Resolution Process
The University cannot promise a definitive timeframe for an informal resolution process as the time to complete the agreement is unique to each set of Complainant and Respondent. The informal resolution will ordinarily take an average of 20 business days to complete.
Below is an overview of the approximate time associated with the major stages of the informal resolution process after the Title IX Program Officer receives a Formal Complaint. All timeframes set forth in this process may be adjusted at the discretion of the Title IX Program Officer. The Complainant and Respondent will be notified of any delays or extensions of these timeframes and will be provided with a revised timeline to resolve the complaint.
- Written notice of Formal Complaint– Two (2) business days from receipt of the Formal Complaint
- Written notice of a request for informal resolution – Two (2) business days from receipt of the request from either the Complainant or Respondent
- Drafting of terms - Five (5) business days (this step may be repeated as necessary)
- Review of proposed terms – Five (5) business days (this step may be repeated as necessary)
- Review and sign off on the final terms – Five (5) business days.
The Formal Complaint and final informal resolution agreement will be maintained for a period of seven (7) years in accordance with the records retention schedule of the University. Records of supportive measures will be maintained for a minimum period of seven (7) years.
2.9 Formal Resolution
A formal resolution process will occur when (i.) a Complainant submits a Formal Complaint and requests to begin the formal resolution process, (ii.) the University engages in an assessment of threat and determines that the Title IX Program Officer should proceed with the formal resolution process because there is reasonable cause to believe that the Respondent poses a significant threat of harm to the health, safety, and welfare of the Complainant or Brown community, or (iii.) the Title IX Program Officer identifies a pattern of alleged Prohibited Conduct involving the same Respondent.
In the event of (ii.) or (iii.), the Title IX Program Officer will draft and sign a Formal Complaint in lieu of a Complainant, and the formal resolution process will proceed as indicated below.
2.9.1 Notice to the Respondent(s)
The Title IX Program Officer will provide the Respondent written notice of the Formal Complaint. Written notice will include a copy of the Formal Complaint, the Prohibited Conduct at issue, and a summary of the participant’s rights and guidelines to the formal resolution process.
The Respondent will have five (5) business days following the date of delivery of the written notice to respond to the Formal Complaint but is not required to respond. A response to the Formal Complaint is at minimum the acceptance or denial of responsibility for the alleged Prohibited Conduct. The response may also, but is not required to, address the factual allegations within the Formal Complaint. Any response submitted will be provided to the Complainant and the investigator.
184.108.40.206 No Response to Written Notice
In instances when the Respondent does not reply to the written notice, the formal resolution process and investigation will continue. The Title IX Office will make a good faith effort to contact the Respondent to notify them of the Formal Complaint and ensuing formal complaint process.
A Respondent’s silence in response to a Formal Complaint will not be viewed as an admission of responsibility but may leave the allegations undisputed. If the Respondent chooses to participate in the resolution process after the investigation report is finalized, they will be given the opportunity to participate in the subsequent steps of the process.
The Title IX Program Officer will appoint one or more investigators to conduct the fact finding for the case. The Title IX Program Officer will have the discretion to determine whether the investigator will be internal (an employee at Brown) or external (a qualified individual outside of the Brown community), or a combination of both internal and external investigators. The role of the investigator will be to gather, assess and synthesize the relevant evidence in a report that sets forth the facts determined to have occurred. The investigator has the discretion to determine the relevance of any witness or other evidence and may exclude information in preparing the investigation report if the information is irrelevant, immaterial, or more prejudicial than informative.
The investigator will prepare an initial (draft) investigation report. A redacted version of the draft investigation report and a redacted copy of all of the physical evidence submitted or obtained is shared electronically with both parties who will have ten (10) business days from the date of delivery of the draft report to review and comment before the investigation report is finalized. The investigator does not make a final determination to whether a policy violation has occurred.
Complainants and Respondents should be aware that the allegations and Prohibited Conduct in the draft investigation report may be different from allegations in the Formal Complaint. If an additional allegation is identified during the investigation, the Title IX Program Officer will send the Complainant and Respondent notice of the new allegation and amend the Formal Complaint. The Respondent will be provided five (5) business days from the date of delivery of the notice of the new allegation to respond to the new charge.
The investigator’s report may include credibility assessments, where appropriate, based on their interviews with the Complainant, Respondent, witnesses, and review of the material evidence, as well as the basis of those assessments. The credibility assessment may include direct observations and reasonable inferences drawn from the facts and any consistencies or inconsistencies between the various sources of information.
To ensure that the investigator is complying with their role as outlined in these procedures, the Title IX Program Officer will review the investigation report in advance of the parties for thoroughness and accuracy and may return the investigation report to the investigator in instances where the investigator does not comply with their role, the Title IX Program Officer questions an initial decision of relevance of evidence, clarification is needed or the potential policy violation is not addressed in a manner consistent with the Policy definition.
Note: To protect the privacy of the parties and safeguard the contents of the investigation report, the draft and final investigation report will be sent through an encrypted email that limits the parties’ ability to edit, download, or print the investigation report. These limitations will be amended as needed to adhere to reasonable accommodation related to a disability that is documented with the University.
A Complainant and/or Respondent may ask for an extension to a deadline or to pause the investigation. Pauses and/or extensions are only provided for good cause and are normally a three- to five-day extension. Good cause is considered to be extraordinary or extenuating circumstances outside of the control of the party such as an unanticipated health issue or exam or deadline associated with an academic assignment. Extensions to accommodate an adviser’s schedule, including scheduling of interviews or hearings, will be considered if they do not unduly delay the process, which is considered to be a delay of three (3) or more business days.
The Complainant, Respondent, and witnesses are permitted to provide names of potential witnesses to the investigator. The investigator will determine which of those potential witnesses, or other persons, may have relevant evidence about the alleged conduct and may request statements, either orally or in writing. Witnesses may include individuals outside the Brown community.
Complainants, Respondents, and witnesses are permitted to provide evidence to the investigator. Evidence may include text messages, email exchanges, timelines, receipts, photographs, videos, etc. The investigator may also gather and consider additional documents, items, or other relevant information.
The investigator will determine whether the evidence is relevant. Information that does not directly relate to the facts at issue may be considered irrelevant to the determination of whether the conduct alleged violates the Policy.
- Pattern Evidence: A report of Prohibited Conduct that is so distinctively similar and closely resembling the behavior in the Formal Complaint may be considered as factual evidence. The investigator may consider this as pattern evidence regardless of whether there has been a prior finding of a Policy violation. Pattern evidence may occur before or after the conduct in question. This information may be deemed relevant to determine whether the conduct alleged violates the Policy and/or to assign appropriate discipline.
- Character Evidence: Information that does not directly relate to the facts at issue, but instead reflects upon the reputation, personality, qualities, or habits of an individual is character evidence and will be given lesser weight than information that directly relates to the facts of the case when determining whether the conduct alleged violates the Policy.
- Prior Sexual History: An individual’s character or reputation with respect to sexual activity is not typically relevant and is not ordinarily considered as evidence. Similarly, an individual’s prior or subsequent sexual activity is typically not relevant and will only be considered as evidence when offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the offense or if the sexual history evidence concerns specific sexual incidents between the Complainant and Respondent and is offered to prove consent. For example, prior sexual history may be relevant to explain the presence of a physical injury or to help resolve other questions raised by the investigation report. The investigator will determine the relevance of this information.
Even in the context of a relationship, consent to one sexual act does not, by itself, constitute consent to another sexual act, and consent on one occasion does not, by itself, constitute consent on a subsequent occasion. Where the parties have a sexual relationship prior to or after the incident in question and the existence of consent is at issue, the sexual history between the parties may be relevant to help understand the manner and nature of communications between the parties and the context of the relationship, which may have bearing on whether consent was sought and given during the incident in question. However, this does not assume that the prior sexual history was consensual, and this should be a factor in considering relevance.
- Other Disciplinary Case
Information about prior, concurrent, or pending campus disciplinary or criminal charges involving the Complainant or Respondent is typically viewed as irrelevant to the investigation unless determined to be so distinctly similar or to be contemporaneous such that the other conduct may be related that it will be considered pattern evidence.
2.9.3 Investigation Report Review
Within ten (10) business days following the date of delivery of a redacted draft investigation report, both parties may provide a written response. The Complainant and Respondent may offer additional comment, clarify information previously shared, suggest additional witnesses, question relevance determinations, or identify any other relevant information or evidence to assure the thoroughness and sufficiency of the investigation.
The parties should contact the Title IX Program Officer if the redactions create a barrier to their review of the investigation report. The Title IX Program Officer will set up a meeting, which may be held virtually, to review the redacted information verbally, including the identity of the witnesses.
The Title IX Program Officer will review the investigation report in advance of the parties for thoroughness and accuracy and may return the investigation report to the investigator in instances where the investigator does not comply with their role, the Title IX Program Officer questions an initial decision of relevance of evidence, clarification is needed or the potential policy violation is not addressed in a manner consistent with the Policy definition.
The investigator will review the responses submitted by the parties to finalize the investigation report but is not obligated to change the report. The investigator may request additional information or interview additional witnesses to finalize the document. Once the investigation report is finalized, it is provided to the Title IX Program Officer, who will send it to the parties, the Chair of the Title IX Council, Hearing Officer, and the hearing panel.
The University conducts a live virtual hearing in which the parties can simultaneously see and/or hear each other. The hearing is recorded, and subject to a proctored review by the parties after the hearing upon request during the pendency of an appeal.
The Title IX Program Officer will select a date for the hearing based on the availability of the hearing panel, and will consider a participants’ academic and work schedules when identifying the hearing date.
The University requires the party to be on camera during their cross examination and verbal statement only. The parties will be muted and off camera during the other phases of the hearing.
220.127.116.11 Chair of the Title IX Council
The Chair of the Title IX Council presides over the hearing panel as a non-voting member. The Chair is responsible for the administration of the hearing process and conduct of the deliberations process, including procedural matters and decisions leading up to the hearing. The Chair is also responsible for drafting the determination letter that summarizes the finding, rationale, and outcomes.
18.104.22.168 Hearing Officer
The Hearing Officer presides over the hearing as a trained non-voting member. The Hearing Officer is responsible for making determinations of relevance about information that will be considered or not during the hearing including appropriate and inappropriate lines of questioning. The Hearing Officer is responsible and has the authority for the overall decorum and conduct of the parties, panelist, investigator, and advisers during cross-examination.
22.214.171.124 Hearing Panel
The Hearing Panel is comprised of one to three individuals who receive training to hear Formal Complaints investigated under the Policy. The Title IX Program Officer will send the hearing panel a redacted copy of the final investigation report at least ten (10) business days before the date of the hearing. The hearing panel will convene to deliberate and render a decision, by majority vote, regarding whether or not the Respondent has violated the Policy by a preponderance of the evidence. No member may abstain from voting.
The number and composition of the hearing panel is determined by the affiliation of the Respondent (i.e. Faculty, Staff, or Student). When a respondent holds multiple relationships to the University, the Respondent’s affiliation will be determined by the role they were in when the alleged Prohibited Conduct occurred.
- Hearing Panel for Faculty Respondent: A hearing panel where both the Complainant and Respondent are faculty will consist of three (3) faculty members drawn from the Title IX Council. If the Complainant is a student or staff member, the hearing panel will consist of two faculty (2) and one (1) student or staff member respectively drawn from the Title IX Council. The hearing panel will deliberate and make a determination on the finding and Discipline (if applicable). The Senior Academic Dean of the Respondent or Senior Director of Employee and Labor Relations may be substituted for a three (3) person hearing panel in instances in which the Title IX Office is unable to populate a panel due to urgency, time of year, or conflict of interest.
- Hearing Panel for Staff Respondent: A hearing panel where both the Complainant and Respondent are staff will consist of three (3) staff members drawn from the Title IX Council. If the Complainant is a student or faculty member, the hearing panel will consist of two (2) staff members and one (1) student or faculty member respectively drawn from the Title IX Council. The hearing panel will deliberate and make a determination on the finding and Discipline (if applicable). The Senior Director of Employee and Labor Relations may be substituted for a three (3) person hearing panel in instances in which the Title IX Office is unable to populate a panel due to urgency, time of year, or conflict of interest.
- Hearing Panel for Student Respondent: A hearing panel for student Respondent complaints will consist of three (3) individuals drawn from the Title IX Council. The hearing panel will deliberate and make a finding and determine a Discipline (if applicable).
The hearing provides the Complainant and Respondent the opportunity to pose questions to the other party, investigator, and witnesses to elicit relevant factual information missing from the final investigation report. The Complainant and Respondent must pose questions through their advisor and are prohibited from communicating directly with the other party.
The Complainant and Respondent are responsible for developing their specific questions. The University will provide each party a hearing process advisor who can fulfill the function of asking their questions in the event that the party does not have an advisor or their advisor of choice cannot attend the hearing. The process advisor’s role is limited to asking the questions identified by their party, and may, but is not required, to assist their party in developing additional questions.
During cross examination, the Respondent will ask questions first and the Complainant ask questions second. Questioning for the participants will be timed as follows:
- 15 minutes for each party to question specific witnesses
- 15 minutes for each party to question the investigator
- 45 minutes to question the Respondent
- 45 minutes to question the Complainant
The Hearing Officer will manage the time allotted for questioning and will extend these timeframes in their discretion.
The Complainant and Respondent must send their anticipated questions and the names of the specific witnesses they would like to cross-examine to the Title IX Office two (2) business days before the hearing. The questions will be provided to the Hearing Officer to prepare for relevancy determinations. The questions will not be shared with witnesses, the other party, or the hearing panel.
Submitting questions in advance of the hearing does not obligate the party to ask the submitted questions nor does it preclude the party from identifying and asking additional questions at the hearing. The Hearing Officer will make a brief determination of relevance before the subject of cross examination answers.
The hearing process does not allow the Complainant or Respondent to challenge the relevance decision of the Hearing Officer during the hearing or of the investigators relevance decisions in the final investigation report. Challenges to relevance decisions may be addressed through the appeals process as a material procedural error.
126.96.36.199 Verbal Statement
The Complainant and Respondent will be granted the opportunity to appear before the Hearing Panel if they wish to make a verbal statement regarding the facts. Verbal statements must be no more than seven (7) minutes in length. The Hearing Officer will intervene should a verbal statement exceed seven (7) minutes.
The Hearing Officer will instruct the Hearing Panel to disregard verbal statements made that are more prejudicial than probative, introduce new allegations, or introduce evidence deemed irrelevant or immaterial by the investigator, Chair of the Title IX Council or Hearing Officer. If both the Complainant and Respondent choose to make a verbal statement, the Complainant shall appear first, and the Respondent shall appear second. Verbal statements should focus on the facts and relevant evidence and limit references to character.
188.8.131.52 Impact Statement
The Complainant and Respondent may submit an impact statement to be considered by the hearing panel. Impact statements will be shared with the hearing panel after it has made a determination of responsibility for the Prohibited Conduct and is considering Discipline if applicable. The impact statement must be submitted one (1) business days before the scheduled hearing. The impact statements should be no more than three (3) 8 ½ by 11 pages, double spaced, 12 point font, one inch margins and should not include new allegations or information determined by the investigator or Hearing Officer to be irrelevant or immaterial to the allegations or information that is more prejudicial than probative. Information deemed inappropriate or irrelevant, as stated above, included in an impact statement will be redacted or removed before the statement is shared with the hearing panel.
The Chair of the Title IX Council will prepare a written decision within five (5) business days from the date of the hearing. The written decision will include a finding for each charge, rationale for each decision, and appropriate Discipline for each allegation as applicable. The Chair may ask for additional time for deliberation or request to pause the hearing panel deliberation in the instance in which the hearing panel requires additional information in order to render a decision. The Title IX Program Officer will notify the parties if additional time or information is needed.
The hearing panel shall consider prior violations when determining an appropriate sanction.
If the Hearing Panel determines that there is adequate cause for the termination of a term appointment or revocation of tenure of a Faculty respondent, the Hearing Panel will make this recommendation to the Provost and President who will consider the recommendation and follow the appropriate procedure as stated by the Faculty Rules and Regulations.
If the Hearing Panel determines there is adequate cause for the separation or termination of an employee, the Hearing Panel will make this recommendation to the Senior Director of Employee and Labor Relations who will follow the appropriate procedure as stated by employee policy or applicable collective bargaining agreement.
In all cases, the Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the outcome and determination simultaneously in writing. The appropriate campus officials such as the Senior Academic Dean, Deans in the Graduate or Medical School, Department Chair, University Human Resources and supervisory personnel, or Deans in The College and Campus Life will receive a copy of the outcome as appropriate.
184.108.40.206 Determining the Appropriate Discipline
If the hearing panel determines that a Respondent is responsible for one or more violations of the Policy, it will then impose an appropriate Discipline. The hearing panel will be permitted to consider prior unrelated Policy and Code violations in determining an appropriate sanction.
The hearing panel shall consider, but is not limited to, the following factors in determining an appropriate discipline:
- Whether or not the circumstances suggest there is an increased risk of the Respondent committing additional acts of sexual violence or other violence (whether there have been other sexual violence Complaints about the same Respondent, whether the Respondent has a history of violence, whether the Respondent threatened further sexual violence or other violence against the student or others);
- Whether or not the circumstances suggest there is an increased risk of future acts of Prohibited Conduct under similar circumstances (whether the circumstances reveal a pattern of perpetration, for instance via illicit use of drugs or alcohol, at a given location, or by a particular group);
- Whether or not the Prohibited Conduct was perpetrated with a weapon or had other aggravating considerations;
- Whether the Respondent upon return to campus would be likely to pose a threat to the safety and/or well-being of the Complainant and/or the Brown University community generally, and if so, the nature and extent of the threat and steps to effectively mitigate the impact;
- The impact statements submitted by the Complainant and Respondent;
- The impact of the conduct on the Brown University community, and the need for any Discipline or remedies to eliminate, prevent, or address the existence of any hostile environment caused in the Brown University community or to maintain a safe and respectful environment conducive to learning, working and living; and
- Any other mitigating, aggravating, or compelling circumstances in order to reach a just and appropriate resolution in the case.
If a student Respondent is found responsible and the Discipline includes suspension or expulsion, the Threat Assessment Team will meet to determine if the Respondent must be immediately removed from campus housing, restricted in their movements on campus (e.g., only able to attend classes and labs), or barred completely from campus during the entirety of the appeal process. Such removal or restriction will only be imposed if there is reasonable cause to believe that the Respondent poses a significant threat of harm to the health, safety, and welfare of the complainant or others.
In cases of expulsion or termination: Once the appeal deadline has passed or an expulsion or termination is upheld by an appeal panel, the Respondent’s enrollment or employment will end and the Respondent must vacate campus immediately.
In cases of suspension of a student Respondent: Once the appeal deadline has passed or a suspension is upheld by an appeal panel, the start of the Respondent’s suspension will be determined by the date in which the final decision is made. Suspensions imposed before the end of the sixth week of classes will begin immediately and apply to the current semester. Suspensions imposed after the sixth week of classes will apply to the next semester. The University may impose interim actions, as appropriate, on the student respondents whose suspension will begin in the upcoming semester.
220.127.116.11 Right of Appeal
The Complainant and Respondent both have the right to appeal a determination of responsibility on the limited grounds of (i.) material procedural error that materially affected the outcome; (ii.) material, new evidence not reasonably available at the time of the hearing; (iii.) a decision and/or Discipline that is clearly contrary to the weight of the evidence; and/or (iv.) conflict of interest or bias on the part of the Title IX Program Officer, investigator, or hearing panelist that affected the outcome.
Written requests for appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days following delivery of the notice of the outcome. Written requests for appeal submitted by one party will be shared with the other party. Each party may respond in writing to any appeal submitted by the other party. Written responses to an appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days following delivery of the notice of the written appeal.
Appeals are heard by the Provost in cases with a faculty Respondent, Vice President of Human Resources in cases with a staff Respondent, and a three (3) member appeal panel drawn from the Title IX Council when the case involves a student Respondent. The appeal panel’s responsibility will be strictly limited to determining if the written appeal meets the limited grounds in which an appeal is submitted. If the appeal panel finds that the grounds for appeal are met, the appeal will be granted. Otherwise, the appeal will be denied. If the appeal is denied, the matter is closed, and the hearing panel’s decision stands as the final decision.
There are two possibilities in the event that an appeal is granted, the appeal officer or appeal panel may, in its discretion: (i.) Remand the case to the original or new hearing panel and provide instructions regarding the nature and extent of its reconsideration. The hearing panel will act promptly to reconsider the matter consistent with those instructions. Following reconsideration, the finding of the hearing panel or the sanction imposed by the decision-maker will be final and not subject to further appeal, or (ii.) Modify the decision and/or sanction consistent with its decision. Following reconsideration, the finding of the appeal panel or the sanction imposed will be final and not subject to further appeal.
2.9.5 Time Frame of the Formal Resolution
The University seeks to complete its investigation and disciplinary process, if any, as promptly as possible. A formal resolution process will take an average of 75 business days. The length of investigations may vary with the complexity and unique factors in each case. Examples of such factors include, but are not limited to, circumstances in which critical witnesses are unavailable, or if law enforcement requests the University temporarily halt its investigation for a brief period of time.
Below is an overview of the approximate time associated with the major stages of the formal resolution process after the Title IX Program Officer receives a Formal Complaint. All timeframes set forth in this process may be adjusted in the discretion of the Title IX Program Officer. The Complainant and Respondent will be notified of any delays or extensions of these timeframes and will be provided with a revised timeline to resolve the complaint.
- Notice to the Respondent – Two (2) business days from receipt of the Formal Complaint
- Response to the Formal Complaint – Five (5) business days from delivery of written notice of the Formal Complaint
- Investigation – Thirty (30) business days
- Draft Report Review – Ten (10) business days from delivery of the draft investigation report
- Finalize the Investigation Report – Five (5) business days
- Hearing Panel Report Review – Ten (10) business days
- Hearing Panel Deliberation – Five (5) business days
- Right of Appeal – Five (5) business days from the delivery of the written outcome
- Appeal Review – Five (5) business days
2.9.6 Information Sharing
Throughout the investigation, the parties should only share documentation and information they receive or learn of from the Title IX Office, including the investigator, for the purpose of advice and counsel. Information shared, publicly posted, or distributed for other purposes may be considered Retaliation under the Policy and could constitute a violation of federal or state privacy laws.
The University may share the Formal Complaint, investigation report, and Finding with a limited circle of individuals within the University who “need to know” in order to assist in (i.) the review, investigation, and resolution of the report or Formal Complaint, (ii.) the implementation of support or protective measures, (iii.) the implementation of the Finding and/or Discipline, or (iv.) other disclosures necessary to fulfill University operations.
2.9.7 Withdrawal or Dismissal of Formal Complaint or Allegations
The Title IX regulations require the University to dismiss a Formal Complaint or allegation in the instance when the investigation proves that the charge falls outside of the jurisdictional scope of Title IX. The Formal Complaint or allegation must be dismissed even if the investigation proves that the Prohibited Conduct occurred. The University may refer the Formal Complaint and the investigation report to an alternative policy, Code of Conduct, or University official.
The Complainant may request to withdraw the Formal Complaint or allegations within a Formal Complaint at any time before the determination made by the hearing panel. Either request must be made in writing to the Title IX Program Officer. The Title IX Program Officer will consider whether to approve or deny these requests, and will strongly consider the Complainant’s request.
Similarly, the University may withdraw or dismiss an allegation or Formal Complaint at any time before a hearing when the Complainant or witness refuses to participate in the investigation or hearing, the Respondent permanently separates from the University, or the investigation uncovers that the University does not have control over the Respondent and is unable to issue impose discipline on the Respondent.
Written notice of a decision to dismiss some or all of the Formal Complaint will be sent to the parties in writing. The Complainant and/or the Respondent have the right to appeal a decision to dismiss on the limited grounds of (i.) material procedural error that materially affected the outcome; (ii.) material, new evidence not reasonably available at the time of the determination to dismiss; and/or (iii.) conflict of interest or bias on the part of the Title IX Program Officer, investigator, or hearing panelist that affected the outcome. The Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will hear appeals of dismissal. An appeal of a mandatory or discretionary dismissal must be submitted to the Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity within 5 (five) business days from notice of the decision to dismiss. Written requests for appeal submitted by one party will be shared with the other party. Each party may respond in writing to any appeal submitted by the other party. Written responses to an appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days following delivery of the notice of the written appeal. The outcome of the appeal must be in writing, and must include the rationale. The written decision must be provided simultaneously to both parties.
The University must dismiss a formal complaint or allegation for behavior that does not meet the definition of prohibited Conduct as defined in the policy, behavior that occurs outside of Brown locations, programs or activities of Brown, or behavior that did not occur in the United States. Behavior dismissed under Title IX may be addressed through another University Code of Conduct or Policy.
The Formal Complaint, final investigation report, and final determination letters, including appeal outcomes, will be maintained for a minimum period of seven (7) years in accordance with the records retention schedule of the University. The Formal Complaint, final investigation report, and final determination letters, including appeal outcomes for cases involving suspensions and expulsions will be maintained by the University in perpetuity. Records of supportive measures will be maintained for a minimum period of seven (7) years.
For the purpose of this SOP, the terms below have the following definitions:
Adviser: An adviser is an individual of the Complainant’s or Respondent’s choosing, including an attorney, to provide support during the complaint process. More on the role and responsibility of an adviser can be found in the Sexual and Gender-based Harassment, Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking Policy.
Administrative Leave: Administrative leave is the process where the institution places an Employee on an interim work, supervision, leadership, or teaching suspension after the filing of a Formal Complaint against the Employee.
Coercion: Coercion is verbal and/or physical conduct, including intimidation, unwanted contact, and express or implied threats of physical, emotional, or other harm, that would reasonably place an individual in fear of immediate harm and that is employed to compel someone to engage in sexual contact.
Complainant: A Complainant is the individual(s) who is alleged to be the victim of behavior that could constitute Prohibited Conduct. A Complainant seeking to use the Title IX grievance procedure associated with this policy must be participating in or attempting to participate in an educational program, employment, or activity of Brown at the time of filing a formal complaint.
Consent: Consent is an affirmative and willing agreement to engage in specific forms of sexual contact with another person. Consent requires an outward demonstration, through mutually understandable words or actions, indicating that an individual has freely and affirmatively chosen to engage in sexual contact. Consent cannot be obtained through: (1) the use of coercion or force, or (2) by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual.
Silence, passivity, incapacitation from alcohol or drugs, or the absence of resistance does not imply consent. It is important not to make assumptions; if confusion or ambiguity arises during a sexual interaction, it is essential that each participant stops and clarifies the other’s willingness to continue.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time. When consent is withdrawn, sexual activity must cease. Prior consent does not imply current or future consent; even in the context of an ongoing relationship, consent must be sought and freely given for each instance of sexual contact. An essential element of consent is that it be freely given. Freely given consent might not be present, or may not even be possible, in relationships of a sexual or intimate nature between individuals where one individual has power, supervision, or authority over another.
In evaluating whether consent was given, consideration will be given to the totality of the facts and circumstances, including but not limited to the extent to which a Complainant or reporting party affirmatively uses words or actions indicating a willingness to engage in sexual contact, free from coercion; whether a reasonable person in the Respondent’s position would have understood such person’s words and acts as an expression of consent; and whether there are any circumstances, known or reasonably apparent to the Respondent, demonstrating incapacitation.
- Applicants: Individuals who have expressed an interest in applying or have submitted an application for employment or enrollment as a student.
- Contractors: Independent contractors, vendors, or other third parties contractually obligated to perform services for Brown University.
- Employees: Individuals employed by Brown University, including faculty, affiliates, visiting faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and all staff (including all exempt and non-exempt, bargaining unit, and senior administrative positions), as well as those physicians and health scientists who are not employed by Brown University but have Brown University faculty, affiliate, postdoctoral, or house staff appointments for the purpose of teaching and/or research in the Division of Biology and Medicine.
- Invitees: Visitors or guests of Brown University.
- Students: Individuals enrolled in the College, the Graduate School, the Warren Alpert Medical School, the School of Public Health, the School of Engineering, and/or the School of Professional Studies.
Discipline: Discipline is a consequence, punishment, or penalty rendered as a result of a finding of responsibility for a policy violation.
Emergency Removal: Emergency removal is the process where the institution places a Respondent on an interim academic suspension, interim leave of absence and/or interim removal from campus. The Title IX Program Officer will bring reports that may necessitate an emergency removal to the Threat Assessment Team in the case involving Student Respondents or convene a risk assessment group for cases involving Employee Respondents to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the alleged Prohibited Conduct is likely to continue and/or the student Respondent poses a significant threat of harm to the health, safety, and welfare of others or the University community.
If the Threat Assessment Team determines that an emergency removal is warranted, it will recommend that action to the Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students who will decide whether to implement the emergency removal. Emergency removals can be appealed to the Vice President of Campus Life. Brown may remove a student on an emergency basis with or without the completion of a complaint resolution process.
Force: Force is the use or threat of physical violence to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual contact.
Formal Complaint: A written and signed document submitted by a Complainant (or the Title IX Program Officer in lieu of a Complainant) alleging that a Covered Person has engaged in conduct prohibited by this policy. A Formal Complaint should include identities of the parties involved (if known), the Prohibited Conduct alleged, the date and location of the alleged incident (if known), and the details of the incident. The Formal Complaint will be shared with the Respondent and the investigator upon the initiation of an investigation.
Incapacitation: An individual who is incapacitated lacks the ability to make informed judgments and cannot consent to sexual contact. Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent because an individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, asleep, unconscious, or unaware that sexual activity is occurring. Mentally helpless means a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling one’s own conduct. Physically helpless means a person is physically unable to verbally or otherwise communicate consent or unwillingness to an act.
Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond impairment or intoxication. Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs affects a person’s: decision-making ability; awareness of consequences; ability to make informed, rational judgments; capacity to appreciate the nature and quality of the act; or level of consciousness. The assessment is based on objectively and reasonably apparent indications of incapacitation when viewed from the perspective of a sober, reasonable person.
Prohibited Conduct: Includes Sexual Harassment, Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Assault (Rape, Fondling, Incest, Statutory Rape), Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking), Prohibited Intimate Relationships, Retaliation and Stalking. See the Sexual and Gender-based Harassment, Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking Policy for definitions.
Respondent: An individual(s) who has been reported to be the perpetrator of behavior that could constitute Prohibited Conduct.
Report: Information shared with the Title IX Office that includes details of alleged Prohibited Conduct. A report is made when a Complainant, reporting party, or third party seeks information, support measures, or informs the University of alleged Prohibited Conduct, but such party is not making a Formal Complaint or pursuing a complaint resolution process to address the alleged Prohibited Conduct.
Support Measures: Non-disciplinary, non-punitive measures provided to a Complainant or Respondent designed to restore or preserve equal access to Brown’s programs and activities without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties and deter future Prohibited Conduct. The Title IX Program Officer will oversee the implementation of support measures that are individualized to respond to the effects of the alleged Prohibited Conduct, and that are appropriate, reasonably available, and free of charge. Support measures may include a no contact order, counseling, extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments, modifications of work or class schedules, campus escort services, changes in work or housing locations, leave of absence, increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus, and other similar measures. Use of support measures is private and is available with or without a Formal Complaint.
Brown will also provide reasonably available support measures for third-party reporters, provided that the accommodations are within the scope of that individual’s relationship to Brown.
All individuals to whom this SOP applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this SOP. University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this SOP and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.
Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED): Oversees the response to reports, submission of a formal complaint, and the implementation of the formal or informal resolution procedures. The University’s response is coordinated by the following individuals:
- The Title IX Program Officer will coordinate the response to reports, review and respond to formal complaints, convene the appropriate officials to assess threats, train the responsible employees, mandatory reporters, hearing panelists, and others involved in operationalizing these procedures.
- The Institutional Equity Officers: Serves as a neutral fact finder.
- The Director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity: Hears appeals of dismissal decisions.
5.0 Related Information
The following information compliments and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this SOP and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.
5.1 Related University Policies:
- Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship and Interpersonal Violence and Stalking Policy
Last Updated: 8/14/2020 - Approved 2/23/2021