College Sexual Misconduct Advisor – Southern Methodist University – Title IX Violations

Located in Dallas County, Texas, Southern Methodist University (SMU) was founded in 1911 as a partnership between the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC)-South and Dallas Civic leaders. More than a hundred years later, the MEC-South is now part of the United Methodist Church, and the school has expanded to include satellite campuses in Taos, New Mexico, and Plano, Texas. With just over 12,000 students in its fall 2020 enrollment, the school has grown since its humble beginnings. SMU is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the George W. Bush Library and is rated an R2 research school (High research activity) by Carnegie. As a prestigious university, SMU takes allegations of college sexual misconduct and Title IX violations very seriously.

Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct Parameters

Title IX regulations clearly outline how colleges and universities must handle certain matters that fall under the category of discrimination “on the basis of sex” due to the 1972 passage of the law. Title IX prohibits three specific areas of behavior:

  • sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment (attempting to trade favors for sex); or
  • unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

Although the main law was passed in 1972, as years go by, the Department of Education updates its guidance on how the regulations are to be followed and implemented. The Department of Education released its most recent guidelines in May 2020.

These guidelines narrowed the definition of what qualifies as sexual assault under Title IX—for example, instances occurring off-campus or overseas while students are in a study abroad program do not fall under the new guidelines. These guidelines were crafted in response to concerns around due process for those accused of sexual misconduct.

Prior to this update, the guidelines were revised in 2011, when the Obama Administration implemented changes that included requiring schools to use the “preponderance of evidence” standard. Although schools may still use this standard if they choose, they are also allowed to use a higher burden of proof – the “clear and convincing” standard. Many of the changes were implemented to protect the rights of the accused. However, it can still be challenging to navigate the sexual misconduct process at Southern Methodist University.

Student Conduct Review Process at SMU

At SMU, Violating sexual misconduct according to the Student Handbook, Violating the University's sexual misconduct policy (University Policy 3.3) encompasses all forms of sexual harassment to include sexual violence and sexual assault. It is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It also includes “gender-based harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual exploitation.”

The process for Title IX grievances is explained thoroughly on the site and is very similar to the process outlined for sexual misconduct in the Student Handbook. After a formal complaint is filed, the Title IX coordinator will conduct a fact-finding investigation. The investigation can take up to 60 days, and a live hearing is scheduled with at least 10 days prior notice. At your investigation, you are allowed to have an advisor to assist you and to cross-examine the witnesses. The determination will be made by the decision-makers (usually members of the Hearing Panel). The hearing process can take up to 60 days (after the completion of the investigation) to conclude.

If you want to request an appeal, there are five circumstances under which you may do so. They are listed as:

  1. Erroneous findings of fact;
  2. Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
  3. New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made that could affect the outcome of the matter;
  4. Sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation;
  5. The Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.

The grievance and review proceedings at SMU can be complicated to navigate, and so you always want to make sure that you use all the resources at your disposal to understand the process.

Consequences and Impact of Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct Allegations

There is a range of consequences that are possible, depending on whether or not Southern Methodist University's Hearing Panel finds that you are responsible for violating the policy. Sanctions at SMU can include suspension, expulsion, deferred suspension, formal conduct warning, and conduct prohibition. Beyond the sanctions, there are collateral consequences you should be aware of if SMU determines you did violate either the Title IX regulations or the sexual misconduct policy. If you are suspended or expelled, it will remain on your permanent academic record. This means that the transcripts you request for graduate applications or job applications will have this information marring your record. You've most likely invested thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars into your education. A mistake like this could result in derailing your future academic pursuits, your professional career, and your personal life. It's critical that you take these potential consequences seriously and treat them with the care and attention they require.

Best College Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Advisor

If you or a loved one is facing Title IX or college sexual misconduct allegations at Southern Methodist University, it's important that you not waste a moment before reaching out to an attorney-advisor who can assist you with the process and proceedings. You want someone to fight on your behalf and stand by your side while you navigate the challenging time. An experienced attorney-advisor will understand what will strengthen your case and how to build an effective defense. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have assisted hundreds of students and their families with ensuring they receive a fair hearing and due process when facing Title IX sexual misconduct proceedings. They bring heart and passion to every case, perfectly complementing their expertise and knowledge. Call 888.535.3686 or contact them online to speak with an attorney-advisor today.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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