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FAQ on sexual violence reporting, procedures

You can find answers to some frequently asked questions about our policies and procedures below. You can always reach out to a Title IX Coordinator with questions. 

I’ve been invited in/asked to talk to a Title IX coordinator about an incident that happened to me. Do I have to meet with them? What should I expect during this meeting?

When a Title IX coordinator reaches out, our first priority is to make sure the student gets the support they need, as well as to make sure they know about, and understand, the resources available both on-campus and off-campus, including counseling, confidential advisors, medical resources, and the opportunity to file a police report.

The first meeting will cover immediate steps the college can take to help the student feel safe on campus before the situation is resolved. These steps are called “supportive measures” and could include housing changes, no-contact orders, class changes, and others. The student does not have to decide to proceed with an investigation in order to request and receive supportive measures.

What if I don’t know who the perpetrator is? Can I still access supportive measures and resources? How does the college respond in this type of situation?

A student can make a report even if they do not know who the perpetrator is. A Title IX coordinator will be able to assist them in accessing the resources and supportive measures needed to continue to successfully participate in their education. They also have the option to move forward with an investigation, regardless if they know who the perpetrator is.

I heard there are new Title IX regulations from the US Department of Education. How do these impact Augustana?

The United States Department of Education issued its Final Rule of Title IX Sexual Harassment on May 6, 2020. These federal regulations required schools, including Augustana, to make changes to their policy and procedures for certain types of sexual misconduct. Most importantly, Augustana’s commitment to responding to and preventing all forms of violence, including sexual violence and misconduct, is unwavering and unchanged. All behaviors that were previously prohibited continue to be prohibited in our policies. You can still report violations in the same way and a Title IX Coordinator will talk with you about your options and the resources available to you.

In order to comply with these federal regulations and to honor our own commitment to addressing sex discrimination , Augustana established two different sets of procedures for how issues of sexual misconduct are addressed: the Title IX Investigation & Grievance Procedures and the Sexual Misconduct Investigation & Grievance Procedures. Anyone involved in one of these processes will work closely with a Title IX Coordinator who will answer questions, provide resources, and explain options.

Any allegation of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct that does not meet the new definition of prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX can still be addressed through the Sexual Misconduct Investigation & Grievance Procedures. These are the same procedures that the college has used to address sex discrimination and sexual misconduct allegations prior to August 2020.

Per federal regulations, the Title IX Investigation & Grievance Procedures will not be used for incidents that occur outside of the College’s Education Programs and Activities and/or outside the geographic boundaries of the United States, or that otherwise do not meet the definitions of prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX. For allegations that occur outside the U.S. and/or outside the College’s Education Programs and Activities, the Sexual Misconduct Investigation & Grievance Procedures will be used. 

While this has been a practice at Augustana, colleges are now required to hold a live hearing in matters involving Title IX sex discrimination. These hearings, however, must now include the the opportunity for each party’s advisor to conduct cross-examination of parties and witnesses for matters that are proceeding as a potential Title IX sex discrimination violation. You can find more information about cross examination in another FAQ below.

Why are there two different procedures? What if I don’t know which one will be followed in my case?

In order to maintain all of our prohibitions against sexual misconduct and comply with federal regulations, we determined that two procedures would be best. You don’t need to know which procedure will apply to a specific situation to make a report or seek resources. When you reach out, a Title IX Coordinator will invite you to a meeting to offer resources, provide options, and learn about what happened. They will help you understand which procedure will be used and why. Key factors in determining which Investigation & Grievance Procedure is used include the alleged behaviors, the location of the alleged incident, whether the alleged behavior occurred as part of an educational program or college sponsored event and the enrollment status of the complainant and respondent.

What is Cross Examination?

Cross examination is the process of allowing the complainant and respondent to ask questions of the other party and/or witnesses.  Per federal regulations, during the hearing in the College’s Title IX Formal Resolution process, the complainant and respondent are permitted, through their advisor,  to ask questions of the other party as well as any witnesses that may be called.  Cross examination is conducted through the complainant or respondent’s advisor, who is assigned the role of asking questions on behalf of the party they are appearing with.  Parties, meaning the complainant and respondent, are not permitted to directly ask questions of the other party or of any witness.

What if sexual misconduct occurs off-campus?

Any sexual misconduct that occurs between members of the Augustana community is prohibited, no matter where it happens. The location of the incident(s) will be used to determine which grievance and investigation procedures are used as this is required by federal regulations. Alleged violations that occur off-campus, including at non-college-owned housing and/or outside of the United States, will be considered under the Sexual Misconduct Investigation & Grievance Procedures. Allegations that occur on campus or as a part of a domestic college-sponsored program or event will be considered under  the Title IX Investigation & Grievance Procedures. 

Where do the definitions of sexual misconduct come from and who decides if things fit?

Sexual misconduct is an overarching term that encompasses issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. You can learn more about how each of these is defined in Policy Against Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Sexual Harassment.

The Department of Education defined what constitutes a Title IX violation.  The Title IX Coordinator (Mindy Zumdome) and Deputy Title IX Coordinators (Laura Schnack or Jessica Schultz) will consult with one another to determine if the alleged behaviors may fall under the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and/or the Title IX policy.  If it is determined that alleged behavior may be a violation of both policies, the Title IX policy and procedures will be utilized. Parties will be informed which procedures apply to any incident they are involved in.

Can I change my mind once I’ve made a decision to participate (or not) in the resolution process?

Yes. As students consider their options, there is no time limitation on decision-making. Students who have made a complaint may decide to withdraw the complaint, pause, or stop the process at any time. The Title IX team may determine the college needs to move forward with an investigation or take other action based on the information provided. In these rare situations, the complainant still may elect to not participate but can receive updates on the investigation if they wish.

What standard of evidence is used to determine if someone is found responsible for violating the Policy against Sexual Misconduct?

The preponderance of evidence standard is used at Augustana, which is required by Illinois state law. This standard means that the decision maker must decide if it is more likely than not that the alleged event occurred (i.e., greater than a 50% chance that the allegation is true).

Resolution time frame — When does the “clock” start?

Once the student who has reported that they are a victim of a Title IX violation makes a decision to move forward with an investigation, the Title IX team aims to complete the investigation and hearing within 90 days — a time frame recommended by the Department of Education. If delays occur, for example an academic break occurs where the student who made the complaint and the accused individual are unavailable, or an extension is needed, both parties will be kept updated by a Title IX coordinator.

How does the college determine when to send out notifications to campus?

See Public Safety for detailed information about Augie Alerts, required timely warnings, voluntary community safety alerts, and voluntary bias incident alerts.

How has COVID impacted the Sexual Misconduct and Title IX process?

COVID has not changed our commitment to preventing and responding to issues of sexual misconduct. All of our policies and procedures are still in place while following COVID safety protocols. There remain virtual and in-person options available for Title IX or Sexual Misconduct hearings.  The College is closely monitoring guidelines issued by the State of Illinois and will fully comply with all applicable guidelines regarding restrictions on the size of gatherings.

What do I do if I have more questions?

Reach out to a Title IX Coordinator (Jennie Hemingway, Chris Beyer, Greg Domski, Laura Schnack, Mindy Zumdome). We are here to answer your questions.