Andrews University, founded by the Seventh-day Adventists, was originally called Battle Creek College. Seventh-day Adventists founded the school in 1874. Although the school has had several names over the course of its history, it has been Andrews University since 1960, when a graduate program and seminary were added. The university is a private institution and was the Seventh-day Adventists' first higher education school. The campus has been located at Berrien Springs in Southwest Michigan for more than 100 years. The school's student body is slightly over 3,500 students, and the US News and World Report ranks the school in the top ten universities in the nation for diversity and international population. Andrews University's mission is to transform its students “by educating them to Seek Knowledge and Affirm Faith in order to Change the World.” Guided by the Seventh-day Adventist faith, the school takes any allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment very seriously. If you or a loved one is facing allegations, it's important that you not underestimate the seriousness and the potential impact on your student career, professional life, and personal life.
College Sexual Misconduct & Title IX
Title IX was first enacted in 1972 in an attempt to protect students from any form of discrimination “on the basis of sex.” As years have passed, the understanding of “on the basis of sex” has broadened so that it now also includes forms of sexual harassment and misconduct. Over the course of its nearly 50-year history, the law itself has not changed. The Department of Education (DOE), however, will frequently review the law and issue new guidelines on how to enforce it. Most recently, Betsy DeVos' DOE released new guidance in the Spring of 2020. Each university was required to adapt its policies by mid-August in order to continue to receive federal funds. Many colleges and universities chose to expand their handling of college sexual misconduct to address the DOE changes to the Title IX guidance.
Andrews University has an updated Title IX policy that outlines what constitutes a Title IX violation. It's important to note that anything that doesn't fall under Title IX may be handled by the Student Life Deans Council (or Human Resources if the individual is an employee). Additionally, they expanded their definition of sexual harassment and included any sexual harassment as a violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Sexual harassment: “will be used to include sexual assault, quid pro quo harassment, hostile environment harassment, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation. Sexual harassment in any form, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, is inconsistent with this commitment, strictly prohibited and intolerable in the Andrews community. All members of the Andrews University community share a responsibility for upholding this policy. Any student who is found responsible for committing Sexual Harassment is in violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Any faculty or staff who is found responsible for committing Sexual Harassment is in violation of the university's “Working Policy” and “Employee Handbook,” as applicable.”
Formal and Informal Resolution
The updated Title IX policy outlines the distinction between formal and informal resolutions at Andrews University and the process for both. An informal resolution is only possible when a formal complaint has been filed, and both parties agree (in writing) to informal resolution. The purpose of an informal resolution is to come to a mutually-beneficial agreement. At any point prior to signing the document, either party can change their mind and decide to pursue a formal resolution.
A formal resolution at Andrews University includes an investigation of formal complaints, a live University Hearing (with a three person Decision-Maker Panel), and a determination of responsibility based on the preponderance of evidence standard. The preponderance of evidence standard means it's “more likely than not” that a student is responsible for the allegations. It's critical to understand that this is lower than the burden of proof that most courts use.
Andrews University clearly outlines the usefulness of an advisor in its policy.
“Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to have a single designated advisor or support person of their choice or through appointment by the university, to support them and be present with them throughout the formal resolution process (including any appeal process). Each party's advisor/support person (if any) will be given written notice of the time, date, location, participants and purpose of all hearings, investigative interviews or other meetings, with sufficient time to allow for preparation. No advisor/support person for either party will be permitted to speak during any University proceeding, except that an advisor/support person is permitted to ask relevant cross-examination questions and follow-up questions at the live hearing with the Conduct Panel on behalf of the party they are supporting.”
What's at Risk with Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Allegations?
You've probably worked very hard to get to this point in your college career—between the time investment for your studies and the financial investment for your tuition, you've put a lot into your education. Sexual misconduct and Title IX allegations can ruin all of that effort and expenditure, left unchecked. Often, students will wait to reach out to an advisor until after the hearing, when they are hoping to appeal. It's imperative that you not waste your time or allow a hearing and investigation to occur without a professional by your side. At Andrews University, the disciplinary actions vary for sexual misconduct. While they start at participation in a counseling or education program, suspension and dismissal are far more common. Consequences may even rise to “Separation from the campus property under the terms of a campus ban (violation of a campus ban may include legal consequences).” Some of these may become a part of your permanent academic record and would therefore impede your ability to apply to the graduate program of your choice or even to transfer to another school. When you are suspended, the length of the suspension could also impact your status as far as qualifying for financial aid, depending on how you meet credit requirements. The risks of these allegations then, go far beyond a no-contact order or the rumors that may spread through campus.
Experienced Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Advisor
When you or a loved one first received notice of allegations of sexual misconduct or Title IX violations at Andrews University, you may have felt overwhelmed and uncertain about the implications and the process. The good news is that an advisor can assist you in navigating the disciplinary proceedings at Andrews University so that you don't have to attempt to figure it all out on your own. With so much at risk, it's critical that you work with an advisor who specializes in college disciplinary hearings and proceedings. You want someone who can fight on your behalf and ensure that you receive due process and a fair proceeding. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped countless students nationwide over the course of many years. Their expertise and experience are in advocating for the best possible outcome for students and their families. They are dedicated to tirelessly exploring all options and passionately defending their clients' futures. If you're looking for the best advisor to successfully negotiate the high stakes at risk, Joseph D. Lento is the person you want standing beside you. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or reach out online to learn more.