Title IX Process at UNH

UNH Procedures for dealing with Title IX complaints are outlined in the Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities Handbook (see Article IV: Sections A-F and Article V: Sections D-E).  These procedures and frequently asked questions are discussed below.

Complaints involving Faculty/Staff/UNH Employee conduct is covered under UNH's Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Policy.

Although the information provided on this page is drawn from the UNH Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities, individuals and community members are encouraged to read these original documents for questions regarding UNH Policies and Procedures for the most accurate and up to date information.

 

Reporting

A student who has experienced sexual violence or harassment is not required, but is encouraged, to report the incident. Students who know or suspect sexual violence or harassment has occurred against another student are not required to report these incidents unless they have University jobs that make them Mandatory Reporters.

For students who do choose to report incidents of sexual violence, UNH also has a comprehensive system to assist impacted persons. For more information on reporting sexual violence, faculty and staff requirements, and privileged confidential support services please see the links below.

Reporting Information for Students

Reporting Requirements for Faculty, Staff, Employees, and Graduate Students

List of Administrative Offices, Resources, and Privileged Confidential Support Services at UNH

Reporting an incident of sexual violence prompts UNH to take action. The individual will be asked to disclose some information to allow UNH to assure the safety of the campus community with a police investigation, a UNH investigation, and/or student conduct proceedings. If you don’t want an investigation or disciplinary action to take place, your request will be carefully considered. However, honoring such a request may limit UNH’s ability to respond fully to the incident and, in some cases, UNH may override your request for confidentiality to maintain a safe community.

Can I decide to do nothing about the fact that I was assaulted?

Yes, impacted persons do not have to report sexual violence, but are encouraged to do so.  UNH offers privileged confidential support services, assistance with the criminal process through our police department, and an administrative response through the AA&EO, which includes an inquiry and/or investigation into any sexual violence allegations made by faculty, staff or students.

 

Once a Report has been Made

UNH Authorities are required to respond to reports, which may include the appointment of an investigator, to ensure the safety of the reporting or impacted student as well as the community at large. They will contact the student(s) involved to address the situation. UNH uses its best efforts to protect the identities of incident reporters and respect the expressed interests of impacted persons. However, UNH might pursue conduct charges against a suspected offender even if the person impacted chooses not to participate, or if it means the identities of other student witnesses are disclosed.

A student who reports a sexual violence or harassment incident or provides information to UNH Authorities investigating such reports will receive amnesty from possible conduct charges related to the use of alcohol associated with the reported incident.

UNH Authorities will also help both reporting and responding students by referring them to privileged confidential support services. Authorities can assist impacted persons with changes in academic, living, transportation, or working situations to avoid a hostile environment.

UNH Authorities and privileged confidential support services will support students who choose to report a crime to town or state law enforcement, and to obtain and enforce a no-contact directive or restraining order.

What to know if you have made a report

Reporting students are afforded procedural rights in the conduct process and additional accommodations as outlined in the SRRR Article V.

In the conduct process, reporting students may choose how they wish to participate in a University inquiry:

  1. Students may participate as a complainant/co-complainant.
  2. Students may request to participate as a witness only (the University will act as the sole complainant).
  3. Students may elect not to participate, but still request the university to investigate and pursue charges.
  4. Students can request that no action be taken and their names be withheld.

If you don’t want an investigation or disciplinary action to take place, your request will be carefully considered. However, honoring such a request may limit UNH’s ability to respond fully to the incident and, in some cases, UNH may override your request to maintain a safe community. For questions involving the reporting student’s election of role, contact the Director of Community Standards.

The investigative process is confidential. During any investigation, and after an investigation, information is only shared on a need-to-know basis and as limited a basis as possible.

UNH Authorities can also assist impacted persons with changes in academic, living, transportation, or working situations to avoid a hostile environment. This includes accommodations in the form of interim protective measures for reporting students (handled by the Title IX Coordinator).

UNH Authorities will also help both reporting and responding students by referring them to privileged confidential support services. These include SHARPP, Psychological and Counseling Services, Health & Wellness, and the UNH Chaplains Association.

Keeping reporting students safe

As part of an effective response to allegations of sexual violence, the University is obligated to ensure the safety of a reporting party.  To this end, the University can issue interim protective measures and interim restrictive measures (see SRRR Article V.E).

The University’s policies and procedures also prohibit retaliation against anyone filing a complaint of discrimination, including complaints of sexual violence. If a responding student and his or her friends are found to have retaliated against a reporting student in any way, e.g., harassing by text message or on Facebook, or physically threatening a reporting student, such conduct can constitute a separate violation of UNH’s Student Code of Conduct, and the retaliators may be subject to disciplinary action. UNH takes retaliation very seriously and it is strictly prohibited.

What to know if you have been accused in a report

There is a process available to you.  The Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities guarantee that a responding student has important rights while a report of sexual violence is being investigated. If a report of sexual violence is submitted to the Community Standards office for adjudication, the SRRR guarantees additional rights. In addition, Community Standards will assign a staff level person to provide procedural advice to the responding student. You can also access help at UNH Psychological and Counseling Services or through the UNH Chaplains Association.  Because much of the conduct included in UNH’s term “sexual violence” implicates criminal law, you should consult with your parents or trusted adults in your life, as well as possibly consult with a criminal defense attorney.  You have additional rights as someone who may also be charged with a crime, should a reporting student or the police decide to pursue criminal charges.

Protecting responding students' rights once a report has been filed

As a responding student (a student whom a report has been filed against) you have a right to due process before your right to attend UNH and participate in activities here on campus is altered or limited in most circumstances.  While the due process rights of responding students are different from those afforded to accused individuals in the criminal process, they entitle you to notice of the charges against you, the opportunity to respond to those charges and a fair and equitable response process.  Each case is fact-dependent and must balance the rights of a reporting student under Title IX with your due process rights.  If there is an active threat to the community, or other exigent circumstances, interim restrictions can be implemented against you pending resolution of any sexual violence complaint.

What both reporting and responding students need to know about the University’s investigative and resolution process

The goal is to enable all students to successfully fulfill the requirements to receive their degree. The process is often difficult for both reporting and responding students but support is available to both. In addition, students have rights in the process that are insured by University policy, University practice, external law and ultimately the Constitution. Both reporting and responding students are members of the University community and have the right to be treated with courtesy and respect by other students, organizations, members of Hearing Panels, Reviewing Officers and members of Community Standards.

 

Investigation Process

Intake: a member of the Community Standards staff will conduct a structured interview of the person reporting a Title IX violation to determine the general outline of the violation, to find out what interim measures the person has received or requested, and to provide information about available support services at the University.

Appointment of Investigator: the Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students will confer, make inquiries as needed and determine whether to appoint an independent investigator and whom to appoint. TheTitle IX Coordinator and Dean of Students will also identify an institutional complainant who will be available to serve on the matter if conduct charges are authorized after the investigation is complete.

Investigation: The independent investigator will work under the direction of the Director of Community Standards to complete a thorough, prompt and fair investigation.

Limitations period: Individuals are encouraged to report sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship abuse, or stalking as soon as possible after the incident occurs to maximize the University’s ability to respond promptly and effectively. Prompt reporting allows the University to obtain the most reliable information, be able to contact relevant witnesses (if any), and provide reasonable assistance and interim measures for affected parties. The University does not limit the time for reporting these incidents or filing a report of violation, however, and in all cases, a decision will be made on existing facts to determine if an investigation and conduct proceedings are necessary to comply with the law and to serve the University community. 

How long does an investigation take?

There is no set time for an investigation, but generally, we attempt to complete investigations as promptly as reasonably possible, absent extenuating circumstances. 

How come I have not heard anything?

Throughout the investigation of a sexual violence complaint, you will receive periodic updates; however, the matter is confidential and we are only allowed to share certain information. If you have questions about how your particular case is going, you are always welcome to reach out to the Title IX Coordinator at the Affirmative Action and Equity Office (AA&EO) at any time.

Is the process confidential and what if I want my name withheld?

The investigative process is confidential. During any investigation, and after an investigation, information is only shared on a need-to-know basis and as limited a basis as possible.

Why don’t they just believe me?

As with any type of investigation into whether someone has engaged in conduct that violates either UNH’s code of conduct or federal or state law, especially criminal laws, both parties have rights and our investigation process must be fair and equitable to both the reporting student and the responding student.  To a reporting student, this can sometimes feel like people do not believe them, when, in fact, it is just a matter of gathering evidence from as many sources as possible and related to matters of proof.  The process can be time-consuming and complex, while it seeks to be fair and equitable to both parties.

Interim Protective Measures

The Title IX Coordinator also considers requests for interim protective measures in Title IX cases, and works with impacted parties, faculty, staff and others on deciding whether interim protective measures should be granted in a sexual violence matter. Interim protective measures can include changes in academic, living, transportation, or working situations to avoid exposure to the accused or to a possibly hostile environment.

Interim Restrictions

In certain circumstances, the Dean of Students, or a designee, may impose interim restrictions prior to the hearing before a Hearing Panel or other body such as University suspension or residence hall eviction, relocation, or restriction on access to University events or facilities to prevent interaction between one student and another. Interim restrictions are effective immediately without prior notice. Interim restrictions for organizations include, but are not limited to, ceasing all activities, meetings, and/or events.

Interim restrictions are not intended to be punitive and may be imposed only:

a. To ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community or preservation of University property.

b. To ensure a reporting student’s or the responding student’s physical or emotional safety and well-being; or

c. If the respondent poses a substantial risk of disruption to or interference with the normal operations of the University.

Results of Investigation

When the investigation is complete, the investigator writes a report and shares it with both the reporting and responding students. The students can offer corrections, suggestions for additional information to include in the report, suggestions for information to take out of the report and suggestions for additional witnesses or documents.

The Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students review the report and decide whether there is sufficient factual and legal basis for the University to file a student conduct complaint, called a report of violation, on the matter. When they decide that the University should file a conduct charge, the Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students appoint an “institutional complainant” to bring the charges forward. In cases where the Title IX Coordinator and Dean decide that the University will not bring a conduct charge, the reporting student has a right to bring a student conduct charge forward against the responding student without the participation of the University.

Is there an informal method available to resolve my Title IX complaint?

For serious matters of sexual violence, federal guidance discourages universities from using mediation, especially when the allegations involve sexual assault.  However, for less serious Title IX issues, other than sexual assault or other gender-related violence, informal resolution models, like restorative justice or mediation type approaches are available if both parties request it.

 

Conduct Hearings, Sanctions, and Review

Conduct hearings are less formal than a criminal trial. Community Standards works hard to make them as fair to both sides as possible. Reporting students, responding students, their support persons and their attorneys should expect to be treated respectfully and courteously by the hearing panel and Community Standards staff. Given what is at stake for both students though, students may anticipate that hearings will be pretty stressful, and should plan to take advantage of the supports that the University makes available to them both through Community Standards but also through other campus offices and departments.

In Title IX matters, a hearing usually is held before a hearing panel at the Community Standards office. When a case is heard during the summer or between semesters it may have a single hearing officer.

Hearing panels are made up of three specially trained persons. They usually are composed of a student, a current or retired University staff member, and a current or emeriti faculty member.

The Community Standards office will assign a University staff member both to the reporting student and to the responding student to answer questions, help them prepare and enable them to participate in the hearing.  

Both the reporting and responding student have the right to receive the final investigative report, the report of violation and other documents and use them to help prepare for the hearing. Documents should not be shared with friends, the news media or social media websites because hearings are confidential to protect both students’ right of confidentiality in their educational records.

Formal rules of evidence do not apply at student conduct hearings, but the evidence that is given to the hearing panel should promote a fair resolution of the case. Generally speaking, character evidence (relating to whether a person is a “good” person or a “bad” person), evidence of prior sexual conduct by any student with third parties and irrelevant evidence are excluded. Students are not expected to be experts in evidence law, and are encouraged to ask questions about whether or not a particular statement or document can be admitted at the hearing.

What will happen at the hearing

Hearings normally are conducted in private. Either the reporting or responding student can ask to have a parent or another person who is not a witness to attend the hearing to provide emotional support and encouragement during the hearing. Usually the request is granted, but there a few exceptions. Support persons cannot speak for a student and cannot disrupt the hearing. As discussed in more detail below, students may have also have attorneys to help them, and an attorney often helps the hearing panel as well.

Both the reporting and responding student have the right, and are encouraged, to submit written statements of their own, written testimony from other persons and relevant documents about the incident. They also have about 10 minutes to present oral testimony and to summarize arguments in their favor. After that, members of the Hearing Panel ask questions of their own and question submitted to the panel by parties to the hearing. All witnesses, and parties to the hearing sign an honesty oath. All persons present at the hearing sign a confidentiality statement, except for employees of Community Standards.

The Hearing Panel determines whether the responding student is responsible or not responsible for the Report of Violation. The responding student is presumed not responsible until determined otherwise by a preponderance of evidence. A preponderance of evidence is reached when a majority of the members of the Hearing Panel determines that it is more likely than not that the respondent violated the Student Code of Conduct.

Do I have to be in the room with the responding student?

No, you do not have to be in the room with the responding student, nor does the process allow a responding and a reporting student to question each other directly.  Videoconferencing technology is available and the hearing board does all the questioning.

Can my attorney put the case on for me?

No. Both the reporting student and responding student in a Title IX matter may have an attorney present. They may pass notes back and forth, whisper to each other and ask for a reasonable number of breaks to talk privately with each other. Attorneys cannot participate by speaking or presenting evidence in lieu of either the reporting or responding student.

What if there is a criminal investigation or I have a pending criminal charge?

The Student Code of Conduct protects a reporting student’s rights in the criminal justice process. It is important for a reporting student to work closely with an attorney or procedural advisor to decide what to say and do at the conduct hearing.

Sanctions

If the panel finds the responding student responsible for any violation of the Student Code of Conduct, it meets again with the complainant, the responding student and (usually) the reporting student. All three have the right to make recommendations to the panel regarding the appropriate sanction. The panel refers to the Community Standards Sanction Guidelines in deciding what sanctions should apply.

In recommending and imposing sanctions, the parties to the hearing and Hearing Panels may also consider the student’s present demeanor and past disciplinary record, arrest and criminal record, the nature of the offense, the severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from the offense, impacts on the reporting student and other factors. In formulating a sanction, the Hearing Panel considers the educational and developmental goals for the respondent as well as the needs of the community.

For a student found responsible for sexual misconduct that includes either sexual contact or sexual penetration when any one or more of the following aggravating factors are found:

  • Sexual contact or penetration when another person is incapacitated due to mental/physical disability and/ or substance ingestion.
  • Force, violence, threat, coercion or a weapon was used against the impacted person of the assault before during or after sexual contact or penetration.
  • The respondent has been found responsible for committing any previous instance of sexual misconduct by contact or penetration, whether or not it was committed against the same impacted person and whether or not the previous instance was at the University, another institution of secondary or post-secondary education or by a court.
  • The complainant provides notice in the Report of Violation and the evidence at the hearing demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence that the circumstances of the misconduct establish that community safety requires suspension.

The minimum sanction is suspension for one year or until the impacted person graduates or otherwise leaves the University for an indefinite period of time, whichever is longer.

A responding student who has been found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct has a right to recommend a sanction lower than is found in the sanction guidelines and a right to argue that one or more mitigating circumstances apply and should reduce the sanction imposed by the panel. It is important to work with an attorney or procedural advisor in making such an argument.

Review

The respondent or the complainant(s) may request a review a final Hearing Order by submitting a Request for Review within two (2) business days of receiving the final Hearing Form. The request can be submitted electronically.

Basis for Review: A Request for Review can be based on one or more of the following:

  1. Procedural Error: To determine whether the original hearing followed the procedures contained in this Code of Conduct and controlling law.
  2. Sufficiency of Evidence: To determine whether the findings of the hearing panel are supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
  3. Sanction: To determine whether the sanction(s) imposed by the hearing panel were appropriate and proportional to those imposed in other similar cases. The Reviewing Board or Reviewing Officer may not increase the sanction(s) imposed by a Hearing Officer.
  4. Newly Available Evidence: To consider whether there is new evidence, not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing, that is sufficient to alter the decision of the hearing panel.

 

 

 

 

Nothing contained herein, or in information provided by University employees should be considered legal advice regarding any individual community member’s situation.