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Sexual Misconduct & Harassment: Complaint Resolution Guidelines

 

To report sex discrimination or sexual harassment, please contact any individual listed under “Title IX Coordinators.”

 

Complaint Resolution Guidelines

Individuals reporting discrimination or sexual misconduct shall be informed by the Title IX Coordinators about options for resolving potential violations of the policies prohibiting discrimination or sexual misconduct, which include informal dispute resolution and/or the formal investigation procedure.

Informal Resolution

In many instances, counseling, advice, or informal discussion may be useful in resolving concerns about allegations of discrimination prohibited by Title IX. Complainants who wish to resolve their concerns informally should bring them to the attention of the Title IX Coordinators.

In working to resolve the matter, the Title IX Coordinators ordinarily will interview the complainant and, as appropriate, others who may have knowledge of the facts underlying the complaint. At any point, including while the informal process is ongoing or afterward, the complainant may elect to end the informal process in favor of filing a formal complaint.

Although Millsaps welcomes informal resolution of complaints when appropriate, it will not use mediation between a complainant and alleged perpetrator or any other informal resolution mechanism to resolve complaints pertaining to non-consensual sexual contact or non-consensual sexual penetration.

Investigation

Complainants who are considering bringing a formal complaint may at any time meet with the Title IX Coordinators, who will discuss the matter and describe the formal complaint process. Alternatively, a complainant may choose to submit a written complaint to the Title IX Coordinators.

Investigation will commence as soon as practicable following receipt of the complaint by the Title IX Coordinator, generally within one week.  Investigations will be conducted as expeditiously as possible and are usually completed within 60 days, though this may vary based on the availability of witnesses, the scope of the investigation, or unforeseen circumstances.

During an investigation, the complainant (the person filing the complaint) will have the opportunity to describe his or her allegations and present supporting witnesses or other evidence.  The respondent (the person complained about) will have the opportunity to respond to each allegation and present supporting witnesses or other evidence.  The investigator will review evidence presented and will meet with additional witnesses identified by the complainant, the respondent, or third parties, as determined appropriate by the investigator.  All parties involved in the investigation are expected to cooperate and provide truthful information throughout the investigation process.

Any participant in an investigation who has a complaint regarding the conduct of the investigator or who believes the investigator has a conflict of interest should contact one of the individuals listed under “Title IX Coordinators” who has not been involved in the investigation of complainant’s report and who shall take appropriate actions to address the issue in a prompt and equitable manner.

Support Person/Legal Counsel

During the investigation process, both the complainant and the respondent may ask a non-attorney support person from the College community to accompany him or her.  The support person must be a member of the Millsaps community (faculty, staff, or student), cannot be a family member, and cannot be a potential witness in the matter, or another complainant or respondent in the same or a related matter.  Since investigations are internal College proceedings, the persons involved may not have legal counsel present at any interview during the investigation.  The support person does not serve as an advocate on behalf of the complainant or respondent, and he or she must agree to maintain the confidentiality of the investigative process.  Witnesses and others involved in an investigation are not entitled to have a support person accompany them to interviews.

Confidentiality

The purpose of the Millsaps Policy on Discrimination and Harassment is to provide the College community with a positive working and educational environment that is free of discrimination and harassment.  Complaints of discrimination or harassment will be investigated in a manner that is consistent with this goal.  All participants in an investigation will be advised that they should keep the complaint and the investigation confidential.

Millsaps cannot promise total confidentiality in its handling of discrimination and harassment complaints.  Millsaps makes every reasonable effort to handle inquiries, complaints, and related proceedings in a manner that protects the privacy of all parties.  Each situation is reviewed as discreetly as possible, with information shared only with those who need to know about it in order to investigate and resolve the problem.

In certain circumstances, the College may be able to address discrimination or harassment concerns and stop problematic behavior without revealing to the alleged respondent the identity of the person who complained and/or the individuals involved in the investigation.  However, this is not possible in every matter, as situations may require the disclosure of the complainant’s identity in order to fully investigate the matter and/or to enable the respondent the ability to fully respond to the allegations against him or her.

Throughout its proceedings, Millsaps will be sensitive to the feelings and situation of the alleged victim and/or reporter of discrimination or harassment.  Nevertheless, the College has a compelling interest to address all allegations of discrimination or harassment brought to its attention.  Millsaps reserves the right to take appropriate action in such circumstances, even in cases when the complainant is reluctant to proceed.

Retaliation is Strictly Prohibited

Millsaps prohibits retaliation against anyone for inquiring about suspected breaches of Millsaps policy, registering a complaint pursuant to its policies, assisting another in making a complaint, or participating in an investigation under its policies.  Retaliation is a serious violation that can subject the offender to sanctions, regardless of whether there is a finding that a complaint of discrimination or harassment has merit.  Anyone experiencing any conduct that he or she believes to be retaliatory should report it immediately to one of the individuals listed in “Title IX Coordinators.”

Resolution

At the conclusion of an investigation, the investigator will determine whether the evidence establishes, by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not), that a violation of the Policy on Discrimination and Harassment has occurred.  The investigator will provide his or her conclusions and any recommended actions to the appropriate College office.  For staff, the appropriate office is the Office of Human Resources in collaboration with the respondent’s manager(s).  For students, the appropriate office is the Dean of Students.  For faculty, the appropriate office is the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the College.  The appropriate office will review the recommendations and, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources when appropriate, make a decision concerning the resolution of the complaint—including the allegations of Title IX violations and, potentially, allegations of other inappropriate conduct—and any corrective actions that will be imposed.  The complainant and the respondent will be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation upon its conclusion.

When a violation of the Policy on Discrimination and Harassment is found, the College’s response is based on several factors, including the severity of the conduct, and a goal to prevent problems from recurring.  In addition, the College may recommend steps to address the effects of the conduct on the complainant and others.  Violators of the policy will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with relevant College policies and/or procedures and other requirements set forth in the Staff Handbook, Faculty Handbook, or Student Handbook.

Appeals

The Respondent and Complainant may request an appeal of the decision rendered by the Adjudicator.  Disagreement with the finding or  corrective action is not, by itself, grounds for appeals  The three grounds upon which an appeal of the decision or sanctions may be made are:

  1. The party believes a procedural error occurred, which the party feels may change or affect the outcome of the decision;
  2. The party has substantive new evidence that was not available to the investigator or the parties at the time of the hearing and that may change the outcome of the decision;
  3. The party feels that the severity of the sanction is inappropriate given the details of the case.

The request for an appeal, including the grounds upon which the request is based, should be submitted in writing to the appropriate Appeals Officer (as identified in the outcome letter) within five (5) business days following the date on the outcome letter.

The decision will be issued within a reasonable period of time, generally no longer than ninety (90) days after receipt of the appeal.