Being admitted to MIT is, for many, a lifelong dream. With a world of opportunity awaiting you, little can be more distressing than seeing your future suddenly derailed by allegations of sexual misconduct. If someone has made a report against you at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you're likely already facing an investigation. Being found guilty of sexual misconduct is a serious issue that can lead to penalties up to and including expulsion. The consequences can be far-reaching for your future. Many schools want to be seen to be aggressive in their stance on sexual misconduct. It is, therefore, crucial that you understand your school's policies and disciplinary process so you can be sure that your rights are respected and you have a fair opportunity to defend yourself.
Massachusetts Colleges and Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Cases
The Department of Education forbids sexual misconduct under Title IX, with guidelines stating that all college sexual misconduct is a form of gender-based discrimination. Historically colleges and universities have processed their sexual harassment and misconduct claims under these regulations.
However, if you have been accused of sexual misconduct, you may also face additional punishment for behaviors that fall outside of Title IX. All Massachusetts Colleges have their own codes of conduct. MIT's existing sexual misconduct policy covers a broader range of conduct and circumstances than the Department of Education's narrow definition, which is included under federal Title IX guidelines.
Changes to Federal Guidelines
Throughout the country, public higher education institutions had to review their sexual misconduct policies, as new federal Title IX regulations took effect on August 14, 2020. Compliance with the regulations is a condition of federal funding.
In response to the Department of Education's newly released Title IX regulations, MIT has employed a new Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and process to follow where legally required. The school continues to address other forms of sexual misconduct, not covered under Title IX, under pre-existing MIT Sexual Misconduct policy and processes.
A Summary of New Title IX Guidelines
If your school is investigating you for an allegation that fits into the Title IX definition of sexual harassment, they will address your case through the updated procedures outlined below.
- The school will address formal complaints of Title IX Sexual harassment through a live hearing.
- The school will engage outside legal professionals to serve as chairs or co-chairs at the hearings. These professionals will assist with the evidentiary ruling and determination letter.
- The school must allow your advisor/attorney-advisor to cross-examine witnesses in the hearing.
- The school's Title IX Coordinators must appoint and train a Committee on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response (CSMPR) to serve as an advisory body.
If you have received complaints relating to sexual misconduct that do not meet the definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment, the school will resolve the complaints under pre-existing procedures.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Your School's Sexual Misconduct Policy
MIT is committed to providing a productive living and learning community where students can pursue their educational goals. The school “will not tolerate nor condone” any form of sexual misconduct.
All members of MIT are subject to the school's MIT Sexual Misconduct policy. MIT employees must report possible sexual misconduct that they learn about to their campus Title IX office.
In Spring 2020, the school's Title IX & Bias Response (T9BR) office became the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response Office (IDHR). This centralization is part of an Institute-wide effort to streamline informal and formal complaint processes. The IDHR Office will investigate sexual misconduct claims filed against any community member, whether they come under Title IX or the school's own policy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: What Due Process to Expect
If someone has complained about you, the Title IX Officer will first assess whether your accuser wants to make a formal complaint and whether to begin a Title IX Grievance Process.
If initiated, the school will carry out an investigation. They will summarize their findings in a written document that also determines whether you violated the policy. They will send this to you and to the person who made allegations against you. Should you both agree to the written findings and proposed resolution, the process ends there. However, if either party disagrees with the written findings, you or they can request a hearing. Both of you may submit a written response to the investigation report ahead of the hearing, and at the hearing, both parties can give evidence and have their advisor directly cross-examine witnesses. Both parties have a right to appeal the decision made in the hearing. The standard of proof applied throughout this process is “preponderance of evidence.”
The non-Title IX hearing procedures are similar, with a few key differences. Three members of the sexual misconduct subcommittee will form a Chair and conduct the hearing. The hearing will take place via videoconference or other distance methods so that you are never in the as me room as the person who made allegations against you. Approved witnesses may provide statements, but there is no direct cross-examination. Instead, both sides must submit questions to be asked of the witness by the Chair. The two processes for handling complaints, both Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct procedures, are laid out in Committee on Discipline Rules.
The Consequences of Sexual Misconduct at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As per the Committee on Discipline Rules, the school has the authority to impose any sanction it deems appropriate, including but not limited to the following:
- warning letter (letter on file)
- probation (with or without transcript notation)
- degree revocation
- suspension of student organization recognition
- loss of approval for student organization residence
- Additional sanctions including restitution, removal from activities, suspension of organizational activities (e.g., social events), removal from housing, and other educational sanctions as the COD deems appropriate.
Of course, beyond these sanctions, your school's actions may have far-reaching consequences for your future. For this reason, it is important not to stick your head In the sand and to get good advice early on.
Joseph D. Lento: Experienced College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If you are facing sexual misconduct allegations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you will want an experienced attorney-advisor at your side to protect your best interests. Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students all across the nation in their Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. To alleviate the harm of a sexual misconduct investigation, you should engage an attorney-advisor as early in the process as possible. However, whether you are currently facing investigation, awaiting a hearing, or seeking to appeal, Joseph D. Lento will work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for you. For more information about how we can help you, reach out to the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.