Alleged violations of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are required to be handled within the guidelines of US Title IX. The alleged violation must reported to a non-confidential source and documented in an incident report, which is filed in the Office of Residence Life and Housing. The investigating officer, ordinarily the Director of Residence Life and Housing or other designated staff member, will investigate the allegation to the greatest possible extent and either 1) determine that insufficient evidence is available to substantiate the allegation; or 2) schedule an Administrative Conference with the complainant and respondent to investigate the incident further. Regardless of the determination, the incident will be reported in the College’s annual crime report. Because of the severity of most VAWA incidents, the College will address substantiated allegations in an Administrative Hearing. It is the student’s right to decide if s/he will report the incident to law enforcement.
References to “Complainant” and “Respondent”
For the purposes of the policies and procedures described in this handbook, the alleged victim shall be referred to as the “complainant.” A student alleged to have violated a College policy shall be referred to as the “respondent.”
Section 1 – Administrative Conference
- The investigating officer will meet with the student reporting the incident (referred to as the “complainant”) and the student accused of the violation (referred to as the “respondent”) to investigate, gather evidence, and determine others who may have information relevant to the incident. The complainant, respondent, and any other involved students will be invited to submit statements on their own behalf describing the incident from their perspective. Students may not be compelled to submit statements and/or participate in the proceedings. The investigating office will then meet with all students who submitted statements to review the statements and ask any clarifying of additional questions deemed necessary and appropriate. Students involved in the process may have an advisor of their choosing present during questioning.
- Upon completing of the investigation, the investigating officer will produce a report and provide the Dean of Students with a recommendation of whether sufficient evidence exists to proceed to an Administrative Hearing or not.
- If the case progresses to an Administrative Hearing, the chair of the hearing will follow the College’s procedures for a Conduct Board when conducting the hearing.
Section 2 – Administrative Hearing.
The Administrative Hearing committee is composed of faculty/staff members and one student (ordinarily selected from the SGA executive board) specially trained in Title IX hearing procedures. A College official chairs the Administrative Hearing.
Due to their sensitive nature, Administrative Hearings are closed to the public. All proceedings of the Administrative Hearing are confidential except as provided by law.
A College official will notify the student in writing and/or verbally of the date, time and location of the proceedings. This hearing will take place within two weeks of the notice, but not sooner than 24 hours after the notice. The notice requirement may be altered by mutual agreement of the College official notifying the student and the student.
The complainant and respondent may choose an advisor of their choice (who may be an attorney) to accompany them to any related meeting or proceeding to provide them with support, guidance, or advice. The selection of an advisor may be different for the complainant and the respondent, and either one or both may select an attorney as their advisor. The selected advisor will be allowed to attend any related meeting or proceeding in a non-speaking capacity. Meeting and/or proceeding schedules are not beholden to advisor availability. The College may remove or dismiss any advisor who becomes disruptive or who does not abide by the restrictions on his/her participation. The student may be allowed to present witnesses, statements, or other evidence on his or her behalf, and challenge (via the committee chairman) evidence or information provided by witnesses.
If a student’s presence constitutes a threat to the safety and well-being of the Holy Cross College community, the student may be temporarily suspended by the presiding College official, resulting in the student being barred from campus until the Administrative Hearing.
Administrative Hearing Procedures. Since an Administrative Hearing is an important College process, all reasonable procedures must be followed which will insure fundamental fairness. Precautions will be taken to protect a student’s rights. Since it is a process of inquiry rather than advocacy, it is not bound to follow the guidelines for a civil or criminal legal proceeding. The Administrative Hearing committee may take whatever measures it deems necessary to determine the facts and truth of the case.
The Administrative Hearing will proceed as follows:
- The presiding College official calls the Administrative Hearing to order, appoints the secretary, and chairs the committee.
- The College official most knowledgeable about the situation, ordinarily the Director of Residence Life and Housing, briefs the committee members on the facts of the case.
- The chairman will advise the respondent of the alleged violation by reading it and then asking the student to respond.
- A complete admission requires no further procedure other than to offer the student the opportunity to present at that time any evidence of character or scholarship that may have bearing upon the extent of the sanction to be determined. The sanction will then be determined by the Administrative Hearing committee in executive session (appointed committee members only) and relayed to the chairman.
- The chairman may admit and provide evidence that is helpful so as to arrive at a just decision. The chairman may exclude irrelevant, immaterial, and unduly repetitious evidence.
- Witnesses may be called in to contribute relevant information. The respondent may be given the opportunity to contest information provided by witnesses via the Administrative Hearing committee chairman.
- The Administrative Hearing committee determines if the respondent is responsible in an executive session (only the appointed committee members).
- If the Administrative Hearing committee finds a student responsible, a sanction is then determined by the committee. The chairman may discuss the decision with the student; however, the committee’s decision must be relayed in writing to the student within three days of the committee’s decision.
- In accordance with the Federal DOE guidelines, in cases of alleged domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, both the complainant and respondent are entitled to the same opportunities to have an advisor present during a conference or hearing, to be simultaneously informed in writing of the outcome of the proceeding, to appeal the results, to be informed of any changes to the results that may occur, and when such results become final of any disciplinary proceeding held in the case of the respondent.
Administrative Hearing Sanctions may include, but are not limited to:
- Verbal or written reprimand.
- Restitution, which may take the form of monetary compensation, or of appropriate community services to repair or otherwise compensate for damage.
- Sanction Pending – a sanction that has been imposed may be held in abeyance for a period of time pending good conduct. Further violations will result in the immediate enforcement of the pending sanctions in addition to the imposition of additional sanctions
- Monetary fines
- Community Service
- Required Assignment/Educational Seminar
- Confiscation of items prohibited by the College, items which compromise safety, or items creating an annoyance.
- Residential Life Probation–Warning that continued misconduct may result in relocation within the hall, suspension, or expulsion from the residence hall.
- Residential life suspension.
- Residential life expulsion.
- Loss of College rights and privileges.
- Conduct Probation. This indicates that further violations may result in a more severe disciplinary sanction being administered, including suspension or expulsion. Conduct Probation may limit eligibility for certain activities or privileges of a student.
- Suspension from the College
- Expulsion from the College
In accordance with FERPA regulations, parents may be notified of sanctions against the student. Students are expected to complete their disciplinary sanctions by the established deadlines. Failure to complete the sanctions may result in additional sanctions or a disciplinary hold being placed on a student’s account, limiting access to course registration, grades, or transcripts.
In keeping with federal recommendations, the College will attempt to complete the investigation and hearing process within a 60-day period. However, this is only a guide, and exceptional circumstances may impact the College’s ability to adhere to this guideline. If the College is unable to adhere to this guideline, the complainant and respondent will be notified in writing by a College official.
Case reviews of Administrative Hearing decisions must be submitted in writing within three (3) working days of written notification. Case reviews of Administrative Hearing decisions must be based on at least one of the following considerations:
- The discovery of substantial new information, unknown to the accused student at the time of the conference or board, which, if heard, would likely have changed the outcome of the proceeding; and/or
- The original conference or board had a substantial procedural defect that rendered the proceeding unfair.
Only requests for case review from the respondent or complainant will be considered. If more than one student is involved in an incident, each student must request a case review separately.
Requests for case review are submitted to the Vice President of Student Affairs and considered by the designated College official.
The College official who reviews the case may grant or deny the request for case review or remand the decision back to the original adjudicating body for further consideration, which may result in the same or a different outcome. Decisions regarding case reviews are final.