Safety & Equity at UWO
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects individuals from discrimination based on sex in any educational program or activity operated by recipients receiving federal financial assistance. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX and UWO Policy. UWO grievance processes for sexual misconduct differ for employees and students as noted below. This page has guidelines relative to all processes. Please see each category for specific information.
- When a report is made to the Title IX Coordinator or a Title IX Deputy alleging that a student has engaged in an act of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, the procedures linked here apply, Chapter UWS 17, Wis. Admin. Code.
- When a report is made to the Title IX Coordinator alleging that a faculty member has engaged in an act of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, the procedures linked here apply, UWS 4 and UWS 7, Wis. Admin. Code.
- When a report is made to the Title IX Coordinator alleging that a member of the academic staff has engaged in an act of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, the procedures linked here apply, UWS 11, Wis. Admin. Code.
- When a report is made to the Title IX Coordinator alleging that a member of the university staff has engaged in an act of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, the procedures linked here apply, RPD 14-2 Appendix C.
- When a report is made to the Title IX Coordinator alleging that any other university employee who does not fall into any of the above categories has engaged in an act of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, the procedures linked here apply, RPD 14-2 Appendix C.
Reporting and Filing a Formal Complaint
Any person may report sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual exploitation to the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy at any time, in person (by video chat – in person restrictions may apply due to COVID), by mail, by email, by phone, or by any other means that results in notice to the Title IX Coordinator. Please see the Policies page for terms and definitions of sexual misconduct.
Individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct have the right to report or to not report an incident to the University and/or law enforcement. Please see the Report page for more information. After a report is made to the University, the Title IX Coordinator or a Title IX Deputy will reach out to the individual named on the report as the victim/survivor to offer supportive and/or protective measures, go over rights and options, including filing a formal Title IX complaint. Victim/survivors may choose to report and receive supportive and/or protective measures only – that may not involve notice to the accused individual. Victim/survivors can file a formal Title IX complaint at any time while they are participating or trying to participate in University programs and activities. Please see the Support page for wrap around services and resources.
Formal Title IX Sexual Harassment Complaint
Please contact the Title IX Coordinator, a Title IX Deputy, or the Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action Office to learn how to file a formal Title IX complaint. Once a formal complaint is filed with the Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action Office, a grievance/conduct process will be initiated. The stages of sexual misconduct grievance processes are listed below. Title IX violations are based on the definitions below, but individuals who are reporting or filing a formal complaint do not need to determine or worry about whether the sexual misconduct fits within the definition of Title IX; all sexual misconduct is prohibited under UWO policy. Title IX personnel will support and inform all Parties throughout the grievance/conduct process about their rights at each stage and what to expect next.
Title IX Sexual Harassment Definition
- An employee of the institution conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the institution on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; or
- Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the institution’s education program or activity; or
- Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, or Stalking.
Title IX Jurisdiction:
- In the United States; and
- Within an “education program or activity”- includes locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercises substantial control over both the respondent (individual accused of behavior) and the context in which the sexual harassment occurred.
See Policies page for full UWO Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy GEN 1.2.(5). If an investigation concludes the alleged sexual misconduct does not fall under the Title IX definition of sexual harassment above, the Title IX formal complaint will be dismissed, as required by law, but the process will continue under UWO sexual misconduct policies and procedures.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct General Complaint Process
What is Happening
What to Expect
1. An Incident is Reported
The University will focus on a prompt and compassionate response with supportive and/or protective measures, as appropriate.
The Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy will reach out to do an interview with the individual named on the reporting form as the victim/survivor to assess needs for safety and support, or supportive measures. The victim/survivor may bring a support person to this interview.
2. A Formal Complaint is Received
The University is focused on initiating the grievance/conduct process with an investigation into the alleged charges of misconduct and continuing supportive and/or protective measures. A formal complaint can be filed by a complainant or the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy will send out a written Notice of Allegations/Investigation to all Parties. The victim/survivor will be named the complainant and the accused individual will be named the respondent. An investigator or a team of investigators will be assigned to the case. All parties have a right to an advisor of their choice beginning at this stage. All parties and their advisors, if identified, will be sent the notice of allegations/investigation. The University must dismiss a Title IX complaint, with written notice to all Parties, if the allegations of conduct do not meet the Title IX definition of sexual harassment. The University may still proceed with the complaint under UWO sexual misconduct policies and processes. Any party has the right to appeal the decision to dismiss the complaint as Title IX related. Please see the advisor section below for more details on choosing advisors for each part of the grievance process.
3. Investigation and Pre-hearing Preparation
The University is focused on supporting the needs of all Parties during the investigation and pre-hearing preparation process.
All Parties will be contacted by the investigator(s) to meet virtually or in-person to gather information and to collect relevant evidence and witness information, which will be used to prepare an investigative report and for a hearing. An investigation may extend past required deadlines for prescribed extenuating circumstances. All Parties have the right to bring an advisor of their choice to any interviews or meetings. All Parties will receive written notification of the initial investigative report and be able to respond to it within 10 days before the final report is completed. All Parties will receive written notification of the final investigative report to prepare for the hearing. The final report will be sent at least 10 days before the hearing is scheduled to begin.
4. Possible Informal Resolution
The University is focused on fair and impartial resolution of the complaint to ensure safety, accountability, and sanctioning appropriate to the situation and evidence, and to maintain equal access to University programs and activities.
Any Party (University, complainant, and respondent) may request an informal resolution or settlement at any time after a formal complaint is filed and before a decision is rendered. Settlements must be voluntary and mutually agreed upon in writing by all parties. If a settlement is reached, this ends the process with no appeal rights. The complainant and respondent are waiving their rights for a hearing.
Please see more information below in the informal resolution of Title IX Grievance Process section.
The University is focused on preparing for and providing a hearing. The timeline for a hearing may be delayed for prescribed extenuating circumstances like a parallel criminal proceeding. All Parties may still enter into a settlement agreement.
A hearing will be composed of a hearing examiner or committee, both Parties and their advisors, witnesses, the investigator(s), and any other University official needed to conduct or manage the proceedings. All parties may also bring a support person who will have no role in the proceedings. All parties will be asked to testify and be cross examined by the other party’s advisor. Any party can refuse to testify and be cross examined but their pre-hearing statements will not then be considered in the final decision making. All Parties will receive written notification of the findings and can appeal the decision of the hearing examiner or committee. Both complainant and respondent have right to question adverse witnesses (by their advisor), to present information and witnesses, to be heard on their own behalf, and to have an advisor of their choice (can be an attorney). If a complaint or respondent does not have an advisor, the University will provide a trained advisor of the University’s choice.
6. Decision implementation
The University will focus on implementing sanctions against the respondent and other remedies for the complainant, if any, and continue to provide supportive measures as appropriate.
The hearing examiner/committee will prepare and deliver to the complainant and respondent written findings of facts and decision regarding responsibility within 14 days of the completion of the hearing. This report will include the right to appeal the decision of the hearing examiner/committee.
The University will focus on notifying all Parties of their right to appeal the hearing examiner/committee’s decision.
All parties will receive written notice of their right to appeal, the timeframe in which to respond to the notice, and how to respond to the notice if they wish to appeal. All parties will be provided written notice of the outcome of an appeal, if any. If no Party files an appeal, the decision of the hearing examiner/committee is final.
There are three potential outcomes for a formal sexual misconduct grievance process:
- findings of responsible or not responsible by a preponderance of the evidence after a hearing or appeal process; or
- a settlement (informal resolution); or
Informal Resolution of Title IX Grievance Process
Informal Resolution of Title IX Complaints Policy and Procedure
Policy UWS 17.156 Settlement for sexual misconduct -Students
(1) The procedures set forth in this chapter allow the University, the respondent, and the complainant to voluntarily enter into a settlement agreement or informal resolution regarding the alleged misconduct, any time after the notice of allegations/investigation has been distributed to the complainant and respondent and prior to any final determination regarding responsibility. Any such agreement and its terms shall be in writing and signed by the complainant, respondent, and the Title IX Coordinator or designee except in any of the following circumstances:
(a) There is no identified complainant.
(b) The complainant has chosen not to participate in proceedings pursuant to this subchapter.
(c) Title IX misconduct is involved, and the complainant has withdrawn the formal Title IX complaint.
(2) In the circumstances described in sub. (1), the agreement and its terms may be signed by only the respondent and the Title IX Coordinator or designee. The case is concluded when a copy of the signed agreement is delivered to the complainant, if any, and respondent. At any time prior to agreeing to a resolution, either party has the right to withdraw from the settlement process and resume the process under ss. UWS 17.152 to 17.155.
Procedures for Entering and Exiting Informal Resolution Process
Parties who do not wish to proceed all the way through the grievance process to a determination in a live hearing, and instead seek the University’s assistance to resolve allegations of sexual misconduct, may elect to enter the informal resolution or settlement process. Informal resolution options may be less time intensive than a full grievance process, while still affording individuals an opportunity to actively participate in a process led by the University for resolution of their complaints.
All Parties may elect to voluntarily enter the University’s informal resolution or settlement process through informed written consent at any time after the filing of a formal complaint and before a determination of responsibility.
No Party may be required to participate in informal resolution, and the University may never condition enrollment, employment, or enjoyment of any other right or privilege upon agreeing to a settlement or informal resolution.
The Parties may elect to leave the informal resolution process at any point until the settlement process is concluded. If a Party elects to leave the informal resolution process, the formal resolution process recommences. In participating in the informal resolution process, the Parties understand that the timeframes governing the formal process temporarily cease, and only recommence upon reentry into the formal process.
Determination to Approve Entry into Informal Resolution Process
Even where all Parties voluntarily agree to submit a matter to informal resolution, the Title IX Coordinator or designee must approve the decision to move the matter to the informal resolution process and may determine that informal resolution is not appropriate under the circumstances.
Factors that the Title IX Coordinator or designee may weigh in considering the appropriateness of the informal resolution process include, but are not limited to, the gravity of the allegations, whether there is an ongoing threat of harm or safety to the campus, whether the respondent is a repeat offender, and whether the Parties are participating in good faith. This determination is not subject to appeal.
Informal resolution is only permitted to address allegations of student-on-student Title IX sexual harassment and is never allowed as an option to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student. See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30054 (May 19, 2020).
At any time after the commencement of the informal resolution process, the Title IX Coordinator or designee may determine that the informal resolution process is not an appropriate method for resolving the matter and may require that the matter be resolved through the formal process. This determination is not subject to appeal.
Role of the Facilitator
Informal resolution or settlement processes are managed by facilitators, who may not have a conflict of interest or bias in favor of or against complainants or respondents generally or regarding the specific Parties in the matter. The Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy may serve as the facilitator, subject to these restrictions.
All facilitators must have training in the definition of sexual harassment under 34 C.F.R. § 106.30(a), the scope of the institution’s education program or activity, how to conduct informal resolution processes, and how to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, or bias.
In entering the informal resolution process, the Parties agree that any testimony and evidence (including admissions of responsibility) they share or receive during the informal resolution process concerning the allegations of the formal complaint is confidential while the parties are participating in the informal resolution process. No evidence concerning the allegations obtained within the informal resolution process may be disseminated to any person, provided that any Party to the informal resolution process may generally discuss the allegations under investigation with a parent, friend, advisor, or other source of emotional support, or with an advocacy organization. Should the Parties withdraw from the informal resolution process, information disclosed or obtained for purposes of the informal resolution process may be incorporated into the formal investigation and live hearing, provided that this information is disclosed and reviewed by the Parties under the investigatory and hearing procedures described in the Title IX Grievance Process.
Informal Resolution Options
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh offers the following informal resolution procedures for addressing formal complaints of sexual misconduct covered under Title IX and UWO Policy.
Should the Parties mutually determine to enter an informal resolution or settlement process, the University may administratively resolve the formal complaint. If an informal resolution is reached and signed by all Parties, this ends the grievance process with no appeal rights. Complainants may choose to have a written impact statement be part of the settlement process.
Individuals who report sexual misconduct (complainants), or are accused of sexual misconduct (respondents), have a right to an advisor to accompany them throughout a formal complaint process (investigation through decision). An advisor can be a friend or relative, a volunteer, an employee of UWO, an attorney or anyone else of their choosing. Advisors have two main roles, which may be performed by the same person, or performed by two or more individuals (one at a time) on behalf of the advisee. The University has identified the two roles below:
Support Advisor– this advisor can be anyone of the parties’ (complainant and respondent) choice and can attend all meetings after a formal complaint is filed – from the first investigative interview to completion of hearing/appeal, or from the first investigative interview to completion of an informal resolution or settlement.
Hearing Advisor- this advisor can take the place of a support advisor at this stage in the grievance process. Advisors in the hearing portion of the process have the role and responsibility to conduct cross examination of parties/witnesses. These advisors can be attorneys. If a student does not have access to an advisor for this stage of the grievance process, the University will supply a trained advisor of the University’s choice. Each party can only have one advisor in the hearing.
In either role, advisors are not meant to be “zealous advocates” for their advisees, as may be the case for attorneys in legal proceedings, and all advisors’ will be expected to follow University Rules of Decorum (below) during all stages of the grievance processes as well as the privacy and retaliation policies.
Note: Both parties in a complaint process will also be allowed to bring one support person of their choice to the hearing. The support person for either party will not have any role in the hearing other than emotional support and will not be permitted to speak to or interact with any other party other than the individual they are supporting at the hearing. If a party does not have a support person, the University can supply one of the University’s choice. Either party can decide not to bring a support person, but their decision will not impede on the other party’s ability to bring a support person. All support persons will be expected to follow University Rules of Decorum during all stages of the hearing as well as the privacy and retaliation policies.
See Policies page for more information.
All UWO sexual misconduct hearings will be held virtually in Microsoft Teams or in-person with video capabilities allowing for complainants and respondents to be in separate rooms upon request. All Parties must be able to see and hear each other for the purposes of cross examination by advisors. These requirements will be accomplished by video and audio equipment (cameras and microphones) being enabled during the hearing.
Questions from each Party and their advisor must be submitted at least two days prior to the hearing for review by the hearing examiner or committee. Spontaneous and relevant questions may be proposed at the hearing as well. Each question will be presented to the hearing examiner or committee for consideration of relevance before directing any Party to answer. The hearing examiner or committee will state for the record the reasoning for any question that is disallowed as not being relevant to fact finding for the case. The full hearing will be audio recorded as required by law.
Model Decorum Guidance for Grievance Processes (MDGGP)
Title IX hearings are not civil or criminal proceedings and are not designed to mimic formal trial proceedings. This guidance applies to all stages of the University grievance process. The MDGGP guidance is based on all Parties being treated with respect and applies equally to:
- all parties, witnesses, advisors of choice, appointed advisors, institutional staff, and any individuals involved in the process.
- all processes for employees and/or students.
- all individuals involved in the process regardless of sex, gender, or other protected class, and regardless of their role in the process.
The following Model Decorum Guidance for Grievance Processes provisions are to be observed throughout the grievance processes and in the hearing:
- During the hearing, questions must be conveyed in a neutral tone. Questions are meant to be interrogative statements used to test knowledge or understand a fact, but they may not include accusations within the text of the question.
- Parties and advisors will refer to other parties, witnesses, advisors, and institutional staff using the name and gender used by the person and shall not intentionally mis-name or mis-gender that person in communications, questioning, or in any aspect of the grievance process.
- No party may act abusively or disrespectfully toward any other party or to witnesses, advisors, hearing examiner, hearing committee members, or any other individual involved in a hearing or any aspect of the grievance process.
- While an advisor may be an attorney, no legal duty of an attorney to engage in zealous advocacy should be inferred or enforced within this forum.
- The advisor should interact with individuals involved in the process in a respectful manner. During a hearing, the advisor may not yell, scream, badger, or physically ‘‘lean in’’ to a party or witness’s personal space. Advisors may not approach the other party or witnesses without obtaining permission from the hearing examiner or hearing committee.
- The advisor may not use profanity or make irrelevant ad hominem attacks upon a party or witness during a hearing.
- In a hearing, the advisor may not ask repetitive questions. This includes questions that have already been asked by the hearing examiner or hearing committee, the advisor in cross-examination, or the party or advisor in direct testimony. When the hearing examiner or hearing committee determines a question has been “asked and answered” or is otherwise not relevant, the advisor must move on.
- Parties and advisors may take no action at the hearing that a reasonable person would see as intended to intimidate that person (whether party, witness, or official) into not participating in the grievance process or meaningfully modifying their participation in the process.
Relevant Questions Asked in Violation of the MDGGP
Where an advisor asks a relevant question in a manner that violates the MDGGP, such as yelling, screaming, badgering, or leaning-in to the witness or party’s personal space, the question may not be deemed irrelevant by the hearing examiner or hearing committee simply because of the manner it was delivered. Under that circumstance, the hearing examiner or hearing committee will notify the advisor of the violation, and, if the question is relevant, will allow the question to be re-asked in a respectful, compliant manner by the advisor (or a replacement advisor, should the advisor be removed for a violation). See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30331.
Warning and Removal Process of the MDGGP
The hearing examiner or hearing committee shall have sole discretion to determine if the MDGGP provisions have been violated. The hearing examiner or hearing committee will notify the offending person of any violation. The hearing examiner or hearing committee will issue a verbal warning on the record to the advisor and state the MDGGP provision that has been violated. Upon a second or further violation, the hearing examiner or hearing committee shall have discretion to remove the offending person or allow them to continue participating in the hearing or other part of the grievance process.
Where the hearing examiner or hearing committee removes a Party’s advisor, the Party may select a different advisor of their choice, or accept an advisor provided by the institution for the limited purpose of cross-examination at the hearing. Reasonable delays, including the temporary adjournment of the hearing, may be anticipated should an advisor be removed. A party cannot serve as their own advisor in this circumstance.
The hearing examiner or hearing committee shall document any decision to remove an advisor in the written determination regarding responsibility.
For flagrant, multiple, or continual violations of the MDGGP, in one or more proceedings, advisors may be prohibited from participating in future proceedings at the institution in the advisor role on a temporary or permanent basis. Evidence of violation(s) of this agreement will be gathered by the Title IX Coordinator, a Title IX Deputy, or their designee and presented to the Senior Student Affairs Officer for student cases or the Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action Director for employee cases.
The advisor accused may provide an explanation or alternative evidence in writing for consideration by the Senior Student Affairs Officer for cases involving only students or the EOEAA Director for cases where a faculty member or an employee is a Party. Such evidence or explanation is due within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of a notice of prohibition of participation. The advisor has no right to a live hearing, oral testimony, or cross-examination. The Senior Student Affairs Officer for student cases or the EOEAA Director for employee cases shall consider the evidence under a preponderance of the evidence standard and either confirm or remove the prohibition of participation. This decision shall be rendered to all parties and advisors if there is a current case pending within thirty (30) days unless extended for good cause. There is no right of appeal.
In the event an advisor is barred permanently or for a term from serving in the role as advisor in the future, they may request a review of that bar from the Senior Student Affairs Officer for student cases or the EOEAA Director for employee cases no earlier than three-hundred and sixty-five (365) days after the date of the notice of prohibition of participation.
*Adapted from the SUNY Student Conduct Institute Model Rules of Decorum