Overview of the Student Title IX Process

The University of New Hampshire’s procedures for handling Title IX matters involving UNH student conduct (against another student, employee, or third party) are outlined in the Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities Handbook (SRRR) (see, Article IV: Sections A-F and Article V: Sections D-E).  Procedures for Title IX matters involving UNH Employee conduct (against another employee, or student or third party) are outlined in UNH's Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Policy.

Although the information provided on this page is drawn from the SRRR and the Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Policy, individuals and community members are encouraged to read these original policy documents for the most accurate and up to date information.

Reporting for Students

A student who has experienced sexual violence or harassment is not required, but 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 are deemed mandatory reporters by UNH policy. 

Once an Initial Report or Disclosure has been Made by a Student

UNH will respond to reports of sexual violence and harassment promptly. The Title IX Coordinator or designee will contact the impacted student(s)[1] involved to inform them of the initial report or disclosure to the university, the availability of supportive measures (with or without filing a formal complaint), the process for filing a formal complaint and invite them to participate in an intake interview.  This initial outreach to the student(s) involved will occur whether the report is made directly by the student(s) impacted or the report is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator through another source, such as a mandatory reporter.

Privacy

The process of resolving reports of sexual violence and harassment is confidential in that the information received by the university is only shared on a need-to-know basis to carry out supportive measures or the grievance process, and not with the community at large. To the extent permitted by law, UNH protects the identities of incident reporters and respects the expressed interests of impacted persons regarding whether to engage in the grievance process.  However, the identity of the impacted party and the information they share will ultimately be disclosed in its entirety to the responding party should the university engage in the grievance process.

Amnesty

A student who reports an incident of sexual violence or harassment, or provides information to UNH authorities investigating such reports, generally are not subject to conduct charges related to the use of alcohol associated with the reported incident.

Supportive Measures

Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services that are offered as appropriate, reasonably available and without fee or charge. Such measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to the university’s education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party.  Supportive measures are available to both the impacted and responding students at any point after an incident of sexual violence or harassment is disclosed and when the responding party becomes aware of the report.

Supportive measures include, but are not limited to: 

  • Counseling;
  • Extensions of deadlines, retaking of exams or other course-related adjustments;
  • Academic support through your college dean’s office;
  • Modifications of work or class schedules;
  • Seating changes;
  • Campus escort services;
  • Mutual restrictions on contact between the parties;
  • Changes in work or housing locations;
  • Leaves of absence;
  • Increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus; and
  • Other similar measures.

The university will maintain as confidential any supportive measures provided to the impacted student, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the university’s ability to provide the supportive measures.

Students will also have access to several support resources on campus, including privileged confidential support services at any point before or after an incident of sexual harassment or violence is disclosed to the university. These include:

Privileged Confidential Support Services:

Non-Confidential Support Services:

  • Police services, both for crime investigation and police protection if you are threatened or harassed, through the UNH Police Department, 862-1427 (available 24/7).
  • Support for African American/Black/African/Caribbean, Hispanic/Latino/a, Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islanders, Native American/Indigenous/First Nations, Arab/Middle Eastern/Middle Eastern American, Biracial/Multiracial students, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning students, and First Generation College Students, as well as Ally students is available through The Beauregard Center.
  • Residential support and referrals to services and student engagement opportunities through your hall director or building manager if you are living on campus.

The process is often difficult for both impacted and responding students but support is available to both. All students have rights in the process under university policy, state and federal law. Both impacted 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 university employees.  As such, supportive measures are available to both impacted and responding students throughout the grievance process.

Retaliation

University policy prohibits retaliation against anyone filing a complaint of discrimination, or discriminatory harassment, including complaints of sexual violence or harassment, or anyone assisting or participating in an investigation.  If the university learns of any form of retaliation e.g., harassing by text message or on social media or physical threats, such conduct can constitute a separate violation of UNH’s Student Code of Conduct, and those engaging in the retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action. UNH takes retaliation very seriously and it is strictly prohibited.

Formal Complaint

Should an impacted party wish to move forward in the grievance process, or if the university has determined that it will engage in the grievance process over the impacted party’s objection, the first step in the process is to file a formal complaint.  A formal complaint is signed (physically or electronically) by the impacted party or Title IX Coordinator.  A formal complaint contains information alleging sexual violence or harassment against a responding student and requests the university to investigate the allegations.  The university must promptly notify the responding student of the formal complaint, including the name of the impacted party, sufficient details of the conduct constituting sexual violence or harassment, and the date and location of the incident.  A formal complaint cannot be filed anonymously.

Once a formal complaint has been signed by the complainant, it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator for review to determine if it constitutes sexual harassment as defined by Title IX.  If it does meet this definition, the university will continue in the grievance process.  If it does not fit the definition under Title IX, even if proven true, the university must dismiss the formal complaint.  The dismissal can be appealed by either the reporting or responding student.   

If a formal complaint is dismissed because it does not meet the scope of the definition of sexual harassment as defined by Title IX, the university can still decide to pursue the complaint otherwise under its code of conduct, which includes an investigation and live hearing conducted in the same manner as detailed in the grievance process below.

Both the impacted and responding parties will receive notification of the university’s decision regarding dismissal and/or handling of the complaint under the code of conduct.

The Grievance Process

The grievance process is the procedure the university will follow to respond to the allegation(s) outlined in a formal complaint. This includes an investigation and live hearing on the matter to determine responsibility. 

After filing a formal complaint, the impacted party can request to withdraw their formal complaint, or any individual allegations within the complaint, by submitting this request in writing to the Title IX Coordinator. The university will review this request and may dismiss the formal complaint at that time. However, upon review the Title IX Coordinator may elect to initiate or continue with the grievance process despite receiving a request to withdraw the formal complaint if doing so is not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.  For example, if the university is aware of other reports of sexual violence involving the same student or the use of weapons.

Investigation

Each party may have an advisor of their choice (who may be an attorney, although this is not required), to assist them throughout the grievance process.  The university will assign an impartial investigator to undertake a thorough search for relevant facts and evidence raised in the formal complaint.  The investigator will be free from conflicts of interest and bias and trained to serve impartially without prejudging the facts.  The university will send to both parties and their advisors the evidence gathered that directly relates to the allegations for their review. The investigator will then create an investigative report that fairly summarizes the relevant evidence gathered during the investigation.  Both parties will then have the opportunity to review the report prior to its completion and submit a written response to the investigator for consideration.  The investigator will then compile and send to both parties and their advisors the investigative report for additional review and written response. 

Live Hearing

After the investigation has concluded, the matter will proceed to a live hearing. The university can consider holding this hearing virtually.  The hearing will be held before a hearing panel at the Community Standards office. Hearing panels are typically composed of a three specially trained members of the UNH community including a student, a current or retired university staff member, and a current or emeriti faculty member.

If a party did not select an advisor earlier in the grievance process, the university will provide an advisor of the university’s choice (who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney), to that party at the hearing without fee or charge. The advisors of choice for both parties will be responsible for conducting cross-examination at the live hearing.

Cross-examination is the process of advisors asking relevant questions and follow-up questions to the other party and any witnesses.  The advisors must be permitted to conduct cross-examination. If a party or witness does not want questions to be asked of them at the live hearing, the decision-maker(s) will not be able to rely on any statement from that person in reaching a determination regarding responsibility.  Please know that the university has rules of decorum that prohibit any party advisor or decision-maker from questioning witnesses in an abusive, intimidating, or disrespectful manner.    

The evidence that is presented to the hearing panel should promote a fair resolution of the case and must be relevant to the matters in the formal complaint. Generally speaking, evidence of the impacted party’s prior sexual conduct is irrelevant and excluded. Students are not expected to be experts in the rules of evidence, and are encouraged to ask questions about whether a particular statement or document can be presented to the hearing panel. 

Responsibility Determination

The hearing panel will make a decision regarding responsibility (whether it is more likely than not that the responding party engaged in the conduct that has been reported and whether that conduct violates policy).  The hearing panel is comprised of decision-maker(s), who cannot be the Title IX Coordinator or the investigator(s).  The hearing panel must issue a written determination regarding responsibility, which will be provided to the parties simultaneously.

Appeals

Both parties will have several opportunities to appeal decisions made by the university throughout the matter.  Those opportunities include appeals of the decision to dismiss a formal complaint, decisions regarding instituting an emergency removal, and any decision involving responsibility.

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

 

[1] Impacted students are the “complainant” as defined by law for the purposes of receiving notices and signing a formal complaint.