At Cornell University they have implemented their Policy 6.4, which applies to students, faculty, and staff. It relates to issues concerning gender-bias, sexual harassment, dating violence, and other related forms of misconduct. The provisions outline the University's commitment to complying with federally-mandated guidelines that relate to Title IX. The administration encourages those who feel they may have been subjected to sexually-based misconduct to notify the school immediately.
What Schools are Subject to Title IX?
Public school districts are all subject to Title IX requirements to maintain their eligibility for critical federal funding. This is also the case for public colleges and universities and the majority of private institutions. The primary exceptions apply to private schools that do not rely on any federal education funds. Certain religious institutions also may have some exemptions regarding aspects of Title IX. These apply to schools that are owned by religious organizations or entities; however, they are not common.
Right To Confidentiality
The University reminds individuals that may be hesitating to make a report of potential violations that there are resources in place designed to maintain confidentiality. Complainants should be aware that counselors are available for support as needed. Medical care is available through Cornell Health for students. Faculty and staff in need of related medical treatment may do so through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP). The institution has resources in place to provide victims with accommodations on an interim basis to ensure safety.
Right to an Advisor
The parties involved in Title IX disciplinary matters have a right to support from an advisor. This may be an individual chosen by the party themselves or selected with assistance from the University. This role exists for support and guidance. This advisor may be an attorney that is otherwise not connected to the matter or the parties involved. The advisor may accompany you to all proceedings such as interviews for investigation, hearings, and meetings. The advisor is not to speak on behalf of the party or directly address those involved in hearings. They may confer with the party in preparation and creating documents that are to be submitted.
If the Title IX Coordinator or Hearing Chair believes that a conflict of interest exists involving an advisor they may request that an alternate advisor is selected. Parties may have additional individuals accompany them to hearings for support; however, the maximum allowable number is three.
Options for Alternative Resolution
The institution allows for parties to voluntarily resolve complaints through an alternative means of an administrative process. The administration may determine if a particular matter is appropriate for this option. Unlike many schools, this means of resolution does not require a formal meeting or hearing. The parties and their advisors will work together to reach a mutual agreement that may be approved by the Title IX Coordinator or appropriate administrators.
The Investigative Interview Process
After receiving a complaint, the investigative process will begin, typically through the gathering of evidence from those involved. Parties may submit a list of individuals that the investigator may contact for an interview to obtain potential witness evidence and testimony. The investigator will only consider evidence that they deem to be relevant to the matter.
Overview of Hearing Process
These matters are heard by a Hearing Panel that consists of three members and a Hearing Chair. In the pre-hearing process, written submissions may be made that suggest potential questions and issues that parties wish to address. These requests may be submitted as part of the formal Impact/Mitigation Statement. The panel is responsible for maintaining an environment that promotes fairness and enables all parties to present and respond to relevant evidence. The parties each are permitted to make both opening and closing statements. The Hearing Panel seeks to conduct the hearing in a manner that is not confrontational and therefore will facilitate the questioning.
Standard of Proof
Hearing panels will evaluate the evidence and vote on whether or not it shows that the violation occurred by the preponderance of the evidence. This means that the panel determines that evidence shows that “more likely than not” the violation did occur. The case may be dismissed if the panel finds that the evidence is insufficient to arrive at this conclusion.
Deliberations on Sanctions and Remedies
The hearing panel will deliberate on the sanctions to impose when appropriate. They will take into account various considerations. The sanctions are to reflect the specific circumstances of the matter and the severity of the violation(s). The panel may consider any prior disciplinary rulings that have occurred and any known criminal outcomes.
Interim sanctions may be temporarily imposed early in the disciplinary process as needed for the safety of the parties. The sanctions that may be imposed after a violation is determined to have occurred include:
- Formal written reprimand
- That the individual undergo education or counseling regarding drugs and/or alcohol
- Restrictions that revoke eligibility for various privileges for some defined time period
- A period of disciplinary probation may be imposed for a period of time
- A suspension from the institution for a period of up to five years
- An indefinite expulsion from the University
Rulings that are appealed are heard by an Appeals Panel consisting of three members. Those included may be the Provost and/or administrators representing the Office of Student and Campus Life. To obtain permission for an appeal the request must cite grounds that justify reassessment including:
- That the penalties or sanctions imposed are excessive when compared to the severity of the violation
- That evidence exists suggesting that procedures were not followed and may have unfairly impacted the outcome
- The decision reached by the panel is contrary to the evidence presented
- New information that is relevant has emerged that may alter the findings
Cornell Title IX Coordinator Contact
Assistant VP for Equity and Compliance/Title IX coordinator
150 Day Hall
Ithaca NY, 14853
Lawyer Defends New York College Students in Title IX Actions
Those who are alleged to have violated provisions associated with Title IX guidelines may potentially have their academic plan and goals adversely impacted. Accusations such as those pertaining to sexual assault, gender-based harassment, or stalking are generally considered as grounds for suspension or even dismissal from the institution. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the disciplinary process involved and will protect your best interests and rights to due process. You may contact the office for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.