At the City University of New York (CUNY) Baruch College they seek to foster an environment that protects students, staff, and faculty from the many forms of sexually based discrimination. They have established a Sexual Harassment Policy that details what types of conduct are prohibited. In addition, it addresses concerns relating to sexual assault, gender-bias, domestic and dating violence, and stalking. Their Office of Diversity Compliance and Equity Initiatives is responsible for these issues that are potential violations of federal Title IX guidelines.
Title IX Provisions and Right to Free Speech
Is the government infringing on the rights to free speech by prohibiting speech that reflects gender bias or otherwise expresses sexually-based opinions? The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has clarified that their intentions are in no way to restrict freedom of speech. Their aim is to maintain an educational environment that is free from hostilities. Comments and opinions of a derogatory nature, including those that are gender-based, are actions that run contrary to the goal of maintaining an environment free from discrimination. Debate and freedom of expression, ideals, and beliefs is encouraged; however, certain types of speech easily cross into forms of abuse or threats.
The City University of New York Students' Bill of Rights
The CUNY administration created a Student Bill of Rights that addresses matters such as intimate partner violence, sexually-based abuse, and other critical issues. Students have a right to contact the local authorities when they believe it is appropriate. The disciplinary process is to be conducted in an impartial manner. Victims are able to access counseling and medical care when needed. Those who report a potential Title IX violation are not to be subject to retaliation for their action. All those involved disciplinary matters have a right to have a personal advisor and any rulings may be appealed.
Those parties involved in sexual activity are all to have given affirmative consent. Individuals may not be pressured, coerced, or threatened to participate. Consent may be given verbally or expressed through actions. Those who are heavily intoxicated may be deemed incapacitated and unable to grant consent. Consent is always required and does not differ based on a person's sexual orientation, gender, or identity.
Privacy and Amnesty
The administration at CUNY respects the privacy and confidentiality of those who report potential violations. Those who report potential incidents of sexual misconduct in good faith will not be subjected to disciplinary actions if it is revealed that they were violating the rules of conduct by using drugs or alcohol. This amnesty is intended to encourage students to come forward.
The Title IX Coordinator will lead a prompt investigation when allegations are made. The respondent will receive a summary of the alleged violations. The investigation process involves gathering information from any potential witnesses.
Role of the Advisor
The parties are entitled to choose an advisor that will assist and support them. This individual may be an attorney. The advisor is to maintain a support role and may not address the hearing or provide witness testimony.
Often the parties involved may wish to seek a resolution to the matter without using the formal disciplinary process. The most commonly used means in these cases is entering into mediation. This requires that both parties agree to cooperate to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. Mediation is not an appropriate option for resolving matters where the alleged violations are violent in nature.
When involving allegations of sexual misconduct, hearings are always closed. If an accused party acknowledges responsibility for the allegations, they are afforded an opportunity to explain their version of events and may have some input regarding potentially appropriate sanctions. When the respondent denies the allegations, the hearing coordinators will make a presentation of the evidence. Both sides are then able to present additional facts and information. The burden of proof used in these matters is by the preponderance of the evidence standard. The hearing panel is responsible for considering the evidence and making a ruling.
When the hearing panel reaches a conclusion that the allegations did occur they may impose sanctions or penalties that they deem as appropriate. Offenses of a serious nature may result in a period of suspension or expulsion. When suspension or expulsion is imposed, these disciplinary matters will be documented on the student's transcripts.
Parties wishing to appeal a ruling must do so in writing within a period of 15 days. The acceptable grounds for an appeal are as follows:
- That there was an error in proper procedure during the process
- Evidence that was not previously available has emerged
- The sanctions imposed are believed to be excessive based on the violation(s)
(CUNY) Baruch College Title IX Coordinator Contact
Ms. Mona Jha
Chief Diversity Officer/Title IX Coordinator
One Bernard Baruch Way Box C204
New York, NY 10010
Importance of Retaining Legal Representation
Students are reminded not to underestimate the potential ramifications that can result from violations of conduct. Those pursuing their education are likely devoting resources such as time and money to their academic plan. When severe sanctions are imposed, such as suspension and expulsion from the institution, these plans are likely to be altered. Having an attorney represent you in an advisory role is tremendously beneficial in how well you are prepared for hearings. They may assist you with drafting effective opening or closing statements and ensure you are able to confidently respond to questions. In addition, your attorney may potentially engage in negotiations that could result in a mutually acceptable solution.
Attorney Represents Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct at CUNY Baruch College
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have the skills and experience to aggressively represent students at New York colleges and universities in disciplinary matters, such as those involving sexual misconduct. These disciplinary processes are often very time sensitive and you are encouraged to consult with an attorney soon after being made aware of allegations. Those seeking to consult with an attorney should contact the office at (888) 535-3686.