Overview of the Student Conduct Process for Sexual Offenses, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking
Seattle University's process for sexual offense, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking complaints will be prompt and equitable. Informal Resolution is not appropriate for sexual offense, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking cases. The University will investigate and resolve all complaints of sexual offense, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking in a prompt, fair, and impartial manner.
The University will provide both the Complainant and the Respondent an explanation of the procedures to be followed during the course of the conduct process. The procedures will follow those that are set forth in the Redhawk Commitment and Code of Conduct, but to the extent that anything set out in those sections is inconsistent with this Policy, the procedures set out in the Policy shall apply. These procedures include:
I. Investigation and Conduct Process
For complaints against students under the Policy, the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Equity and Dean of Students, in consultation with appropriate University officials, will review the complaint and appoint an internal or external investigator or investigative team (the “Investigator”) to conduct a prompt and fair investigation of the complaint.
The Investigator will conduct the investigation based upon the facts and circumstances reported to the University and developed through the course of the investigation. The investigation will include one or more interviews with the Complainant, Respondent and witnesses. The investigation will also include the gathering and review of any physical, documentary, or other relevant and available evidence. As part of the investigation, the Investigator will provide an opportunity for all parties to present written statements, identify witnesses and submit evidence. Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the Complainant and Respondent will be given the opportunity to respond to a summary of the information developed through the investigation.
b. Standard of Proof
The determination as to whether the Respondent is responsible for violating the Policy will be made using the preponderance of the evidence standard. This standard requires that the information supporting a determination of responsibility be more convincing than the information in opposition to it. Under this standard, determinations of responsibility are based upon what is more likely than not to have occurred.
c. Investigation Findings and Outcome Notification
At the conclusion of an investigation, the Investigator will submit a written investigation report, including a summary of the investigation, the Investigator's findings of fact, and a summary of the Investigator's rationale in support of the findings of fact, to the Dean of Students or designee, and Assistant Vice President for Institutional Equity or designee. Upon the approval of the investigation report and findings of fact, the Dean of Students or designee, in consultation with appropriate University officials, will determine responsibility for violations of the Policy and the appropriate sanctions if there is a determination of responsibility. Both parties will be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation, any sanctions and how to file an appeal.
d. Time Frame
The University will resolve all complaints and reports under the Policy in a prompt manner, endeavoring to do so within sixty (60) calendar days of the initial report. Extenuating circumstances may arise that require an extension beyond 60 days.
Extenuating circumstances may include, but are not limited to, the complexity and scope of the allegations and investigation, the number of witnesses involved, the availability of the parties or witnesses, the effect of a current criminal investigation, any intervening University break or holiday, or other unforeseen circumstances.
In the event that the process departs the 60-day time frame, the University will notify the Complainant and Respondent of the reason(s) for the departure and the expected adjustment in the time frame.
e. Coordination with Law Enforcement
The University’s conduct process and the legal system work independently from one another. The University will proceed with responding to and investigating complaints under the Policy regardless of action or inaction by law enforcement agencies. If a law enforcement agency initiates an investigation, the University may temporarily delay its investigation and conduct process at the request of the agency in order to facilitate its initial evidence gathering. In the event that there is a delay in the investigation and conduct process, the University will notify the Complainant and Respondent.
Decisions made or sanctions imposed under the Policy and Grievance Procedures are not subject to change because of the outcome of any criminal or civil case arising from the same conduct.
The Complainant and Respondent are both permitted to be accompanied by one advisor of their choice at any meeting during the investigation and conduct process. The advisor may not actively participate in the investigation or conduct process. The advisor may not submit documents, nor speak or ask questions, either directly or indirectly, on a party’s behalf at any stage of the process.
If the Investigator determines that the advisor is disruptive, the University may dismiss the advisor for the meeting. In addition, in keeping with the University’s commitment to resolve all complaints and reports under the Policy in a prompt manner, the University reserves the right to proceed with the process regardless of the availability of a party’s chosen advisor.
If a Respondent is found to have violated this Policy, the University will determine appropriate sanctions. Sanctions will be designed to end the conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the Complainant and the University community.
Not all violations of the Policy will be deemed equally serious offenses and the University may impose different sanctions depending on the facts and circumstances. Possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, the following: educational activities; loss of privileges; disciplinary warning; disciplinary probation; residence hall suspension; suspension; dismissal from the University; revocation of a degree; and withholding a degree.
Both the Complainant and Respondent have a limited right to appeal the determination of whether or not a Policy violated occurred and any sanctions imposed. A written appeal must be submitted to the trained University official identified in the notification of outcome to hear the appeal (the “Appeals Officer”) within three (3) calendar days of receiving the written notice of the outcome of the investigation. The appeals should consist of a plain, concise and complete written statement outlining the grounds for the appeal.
a. Grounds for Appeal
Appeals will only be accepted on one or more of the following grounds:
Dissatisfaction with a determination is not grounds for appeal. Non-participation in the investigation and conduct process is not considered new information and grounds for appeal.
b. Review of Appeals
Upon receipt of an appeal, the Appeals Officer will provide the other party an opportunity to respond in writing to the appeal. Any response to the appeal must be submitted to the Appeals Officer within three (3) calendar days from receipt of the appeal.
The Appeals Officer will conduct an impartial review of the appeal. The determination and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The appeal is not a new review of the underlying case. The Appeals Officer will consider the merits of an appeal only the basis of the three (3) grounds for appeal. The Appeal Officers will review the appeal statement, the other party’s response, the investigation report, findings, evidence, determination and sanctions. The Appeals Officer may also discuss the case with the Investigator and other individuals involved in the investigation and grievance process.
Upon conclusion of the review of the appeal, the Appeals Officer will uphold the original determination, alter the determination, send the case back to the Investigator with instructions, affirm the sanctions imposed and/or alter the sanctions. The Appeals Officer will communicate the outcome of the appeal to both parties simultaneously in writing within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of submission of all appeal documents by both parties. Extenuating circumstances may arise that require an extension beyond 15 days. In the event that the process departs this time frame, the Appeal Officer will notify both parties of the reason(s) for the departure and the expected adjustment in the time frame.