At the City University of New York (CUNY) Queens College they remain focused on safety and support statewide efforts to prevent sexual assault on its college and university campuses. The term sexual violence is described as an “umbrella term” that includes intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual abuse, and other forms of misconduct. The College has an Office of Compliance and Diversity Programs that contains staff members who are responsible for Title IX compliance.
Title IX Overview
Title IX was a program implemented in 1972 as a set of laws to prohibit sexually-based discrimination at educational institutions. Schools must comply with these provisions or jeopardize their eligibility for critical federal education funding. The rules govern discrimination to ensure equality in the many areas of the institution, which includes admissions, athletics, academics, and more. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance among the institutions of higher learning. The OCR strives to ensure these schools are maintaining their commitment to conduct investigations equitably, having sufficient ways for filing grievances to be made, and other fundamental rights.
City University of New York (CUNY): Queens College Student Bill of Rights
Administrators at CUNY established a Student Bill of Rights to outline the rights afforded to those who encounter forms of sexual misconduct under Title IX. Students may contact law enforcement when they believe it is needed. The disciplinary process is to be handled impartially. Those who report a potential Title IX violation will not be subjected to acts of retaliation. All those associated with disciplinary matters have a right to have a personal advisor. Any rulings of decisions regarding violations may be appealed.
The leadership at Queens College recognizes how confidentiality can be a major concern regarding these matters. Individuals who are victims of sexual misconduct or those who report such actions will not have their identity revealed or shared with others unless for critical purposes of law enforcement. In addition, the campus has resources to further assist victims. Key aspects of victim assistance include a staff of mental health providers, medical staff, and pastoral counseling.
To maintain a highly effective system of investigating and resolving actions of Title IX misconduct, the College must have resources in place to prevent retaliation against those who report incidents. This is a common concern (similar to confidentiality) that may make witnesses hesitant to come forward. The College maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding retaliation in accordance with the federal and state laws that address this concern.
Process of Investigation
Upon receiving a complaint, the administration uses its designated resources to investigate. The Title IX Coordinator communicates with other offices in gathering relevant data and information. The accused will be notified in writing explaining that an investigation is underway and this document will include a summary of the allegations. Investigators may request the parties involved to prepare written statements and will pursue opportunities to interview witnesses.
The Role of an Advisor
All parties involved may designate an advisor to provide them with forms of support and assistance. This individual may or may not be an attorney. This role is intended to be passive during formal processes such as hearings. Advisors are to refrain from directly answering questions on behalf of a party and are unable to provide witness testimony.
Based on the sensitive nature of the proceedings, hearings relating to accusations of sexual misconduct are closed. If the accused party willingly accepts responsibility for the alleged violations they may present their version of events. In addition, they may also suggest what they believe would be an appropriate penalty. The burden of proof to satisfy in these matters is based on the preponderance of the evidence standard. Students are not required to testify in hearings.
When an accused party is ultimately found to have violated the provisions of conduct, they will likely face sanctions or penalties that those presiding deem as appropriate. In some instances, these include either a temporary suspension or potentially expulsion from the College. Other consequences include having privileges revoked, such as the ability to live in campus housing or to join campus organizations. A temporary period of disciplinary probation may also be imposed. The finding will be provided in writing to the parties within a seven-day period and it is subject to appeal.
Those who wish to appeal a decision have a period of 15 days in which to do so. Appeals must be made in writing and the acceptable grounds are as follows:
- That a procedural error occurred amid the process, such as a deviation from the written College guidelines
- If new information or evidence that was not previously available has now emerged
- When the severity of the sanctions are believed to be excessive compared to the violation(s)
CUNY Queens College Title IX Coordinator Contact
Title IX Coordinator
Annette L. Durrant, Esq.
Interim Chief Diversity Officer & Director
65-30 Kissena Blvd
Queens NY 11367
How Might Retaining Legal Counsel Benefit Me?
Violations of a college or university's Title IX provisions may result in penalties or sanctions that can dramatically alter your educational goals. For this reason, it is recommended that parties consult with an attorney. Contact with legal counsel should be made quickly, as these processes generally have short timelines. The U.S. Department of Education has recently made a host of proposed changes to the Title IX guidelines. Some of these pending changes include redefining the way sexual harassment is defined and the standards of evidence. During these volatile times, it is even more important to have proper guidance throughout the process.
Defense Attorney for College Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Are you a student or parent of a student at a college or university in New York that has been alleged to have committed an act of sexual misconduct? Joseph D. Lento is an attorney with the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected in these actions. We encourage you to contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.