Formal Complaints Through University Disciplinary System
How do I initiate a sexual misconduct complaint through the SU disciplinary system?
Your first step is to contact Jaime Woody, Dean of Students, or Dr. Glada Munt, the University’s Sexual Misconduct Officer. You are encouraged to bring someone with you to meet with Dean Woody or Dr. Munt (e.g., a counselor, a professor, or even a friend). Students often find that “another set of ears” helps them to feel supported and to keep track of what options are discussed in the meeting.
When you meet with Dean Woody or Dr. Munt, the first thing they will do is listen to you as you tell what happened. Next, they will explain how the disciplinary process works.
Once you meet with Dean Woody or Dr. Munt an investigation will begin. You will first complete a written statement. If you need additional time to write a full statement, you may make a very brief initial statement that you intend to seek a disciplinary hearing involving another student. This is so the accused student can be notified that there is a complaint pending against him/her, which includes a warning of no contact and no retaliation against the accusing student. You may then complete your full written statement at a later time. If you have made a statement with the police, a copy of that statement will suffice as your written complaint. The next step is a hearing by the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board (Hearing Board).
What is the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board?
The Hearing Board is the only board that can hear cases involving alleged student or student organization sexual misconduct, except during Special Periods (see Sexual Misconduct Policy page — for information on Special Periods). Any other violation of University policy that occurred during the alleged sexual misconduct may also be adjudicated by the Hearing Board. The Hearing Board members receive formal training prior to serving as a Board member. This training includes, among other topics, referral sources for assistance, presentations on how Southwestern adjudicates sexual misconduct cases, dynamics of acquaintance rape scenarios, variable survivor reactions, myths and facts about sexual assault that apply to both men and women, sensitivity to sexual orientation factors and appropriate standards of proof.
Who will be on the Hearing Board that hears my case?
The Hearing Board will consist of five members, at least three of whom must be members of the faculty. Every attempt will be made to have gender diversity within the Hearing Board. The Sexual Harassment Officer or the Dean of Students will choose the chair of the Hearing Board.
What can I expect at a Sexual Misconduct hearing?
Briefly, the Sexual Misconduct Officer or the Dean of Students is responsible for presenting charges to the Hearing Board. At this point, the accused may enter a plea. In the absence of a plea, or in the case of a not guilty plea, the hearing continues. If the accused pleads guilty, the Hearing Board will consider statements from the accused and the accuser. The Sexual Misconduct Officer, the Dean of Students, or Hearing Board members may ask questions at that time.
If the accused pleads not guilty or makes no plea, the Sexual Misconduct Officer or the Dean of Students will present witnesses in support of the charges, including any witnesses provided by the accuser. The Hearing Board members may ask questions, for clarification purposes only, during the witness’s direct testimony. Upon completion of the testimony by the accuser or a witness, the Hearing Board, the Sexual Misconduct Officer or the Dean of Students can conduct more complete questioning. Should the accused or the accuser have a question of a witness, or of each other, that question must be provided at the conclusion of the witness’s statement and must be presented to the chair, who will determine whether to ask the question of the witness.
The Sexual Misconduct Officer or the Dean of Students will then present witnesses on behalf of the accused. It is the choice of the accused whether or not to testify. Again, the Hearing Board members may ask questions for clarification purposes only during the direct testimony of the witness. Upon completion of the testimony by the accused or a witness, the Hearing Board may conduct more complete questioning. Once again, should the accused or the accuser have a question of a witness, that question must be provided at the conclusion of the witness’s statement, and must be presented to the chair who will determine whether to ask the question of the witness.
The Hearing Board chair may declare a recess if s/he believes that either the accuser or the accused is emotionally unfit to continue or that there is fatigue of any party in the proceedings.
Upon completion of the witnesses’ statements and questioning, the Hearing Board will commence deliberation of guilt or innocence in closed session. If the accused is found guilty, or pleads guilty, both the accused and accuser may make personal statements, followed by questions from the Hearing Board. Character witnesses for the accused may then be offered. At this time, the Hearing Board moves into closed session. The Sexual Misconduct Officer or the Dean of Students offers any history of discipline problems and the Hearing Board deliberates on sanctions. The accused is then informed of the sanctions and reminded of the right to appeal. The accuser is also notified of the outcome of the hearing and the right to appeal.
Southwestern University seeks to complete the investigation of all reports of sexual misconduct within sixty (60) days. That time frame is meant to be a guideline rather than a rigid requirement. Circumstances may arise that require the extension of time frames, including extension beyond sixty (60) days. Such circumstances may include school breaks or holidays, the complexity of the allegations, the number of witnesses involved, the availability of the parties or witnesses, the effect of a concurrent criminal investigation, or other unforeseen circumstances.
Who may attend the hearing?
The only persons entitled to be present at the hearing are the Sexual Misconduct Officer or the Dean of Students, the accuser, the accuser’s advisor, the accused, the accused’s advisor, witnesses (during their testimony only), the Hearing Board members and a Residence Life staff member, if necessary. When you appear before the Hearing Board, you are entitled to be accompanied by an advisor of your choosing. Since the advisor can provide support throughout the process, it is a good idea to select an advisor you trust. The advisor may be from campus and may be a student, a member of the faculty, or a member of the administration. The advisor may not speak for the accuser, nor the accused, nor may s/he argue the case. Alternatively, the accused or accuser is entitled to have a lawyer as their advisor. The lawyer may not speak for the accused or the accuser and may not argue the case.
What if I am afraid to confront the accused face-to-face during the hearing?
Because it can be traumatizing for some victims to confront the accused, SU has developed an alternative hearing procedure. In this case, you and your advisor would be connected to the process via telephone conferencing technology instead of being physically present at the hearing. All other aspects of the hearing will remain the same.
If the accused pleads guilty or is found guilty by the Hearing Board, what are the potential sanctions?
There is no “mandatory minimum” in disciplinary procedures, and any action taken is at the discretion of the Hearing Board. There are several potential sanctions for students or student organizations found in violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy including: a) Alcohol Ban b) Disciplinary Probation c) Expulsion d) Loss of Privileges e) Mandated Counseling or Assessment f) Room Reassignment g) Parental Notification h) Physical Restrictions I) Social Probation j) Special Programs or Projects and k) Suspension.
More than one sanction may be imposed for any single violation.
If the accused is found guilty but I don’t think the penalty is fair, can I appeal it?
Yes. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the campus hearing, you may file an appeal with the University as well as still pursue charges through the criminal system or file a civil lawsuit.
If you want to learn more about your rights or if you believe your institution is violating Federal law, you can contact the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800)421-3481. You can also fill out a form online at www2.ed/gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complainintro.html