Excelsior College seeks to promote a safe environment for students, faculty, and employees and ensure no one is denied participation in the college's programs or activities on the basis of sex or gender. To promote this safe learning environment, Excelsior College has a policy against sex and gender-based misconduct. Although Excelsior is a nontraditional college where students learn at a distance rather than on campus, the college is still committed to ensuring the personal safety of everyone in the community.
If Excelsior College learns about potential violations of its sexual misconduct policy, the administration will not hesitate to take immediate action, including launching an investigation. Students at Excelsior College who are accused of either Title IX or other sexual harassment violations should, therefore, take the matter seriously. Such a violation could lead to suspension or expulsion, which would have a severe impact on a student's education.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct at Excelsior College
Excelsior College has a Sex and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy that covers all prohibited forms of sexual misconduct as well as Title IX violations. Unlike some colleges and universities, Excelsior only has one policy to deal with both Title IX and conduct that does not fall within the scope of Title IX. Violations are considered either Title IX violations or College Category violations.
The Title IX Coordinator at Excelsior College has the authority to dismiss a formal Title IX complaint if it does not fall within the scope of Title IX. However, the college may still process the allegations of sexual misconduct as College Category violations.
Prohibited Title IX Behavior
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual assault
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
Prohibited College Category Behavior
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual assault
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Sexual exploitation
The list of Title IX and College Category violations overlap. The College Category definitions expand upon the Title IX definitions and may apply to behavior that doesn't meet the Title IX definition. For example, the College Category definition of sexual harassment is any “unwelcome, offensive conduct that occurs on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, gender-stereotyping, or the status of being transgender,” which is broader than the Title IX definition of sexual harassment.
How Does Excelsior College Handle Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Violations?
Excelsior College primarily uses the Title IX grievance procedure to handle sexual misconduct and applies other relevant policies to allegations that fall outside the scope of Title IX.
The process goes through six steps: Reporting, formal complaint, informal resolution, investigation, hearing, and appeals.
Anyone may report a suspected incident of sexual misconduct to the Excelsior College Title IX Coordinator. After a report, the Title IX Coordinator may offer non-disciplinary supportive or interim measures as they see fit. Filing a report does not launch the grievance process, however. Someone must file a formal complaint to do so.
If someone submits a written, signed, formal complaint to the Titel IX Coordinator alleging sexual misconduct, the matter must go through an investigation and adjudication process. Anyone other than the alleged victim of sexual harassment cannot file a formal complaint. The Title IX Coordinator does have the authority to file a complaint on someone's behalf, however, if they have reason to suspect a violation.
If both parties agree to it, the matter may move to an informal resolution process. A facilitator schedules a meeting with both parties where each person may discuss and hear concerns and come to an agreement without letting the issue go to an investigation or hearing.
When there is no informal resolution, or the parties do not agree to pursue one, the college appoints an investigator to gather information about the allegations in the formal complaint. The investigator may conduct meetings and interviews to gather information with witnesses as well as with the complainant (accuser) and respondent (accused). The investigator produces a report once they are done gathering information, and each party may review the report before the hearing process starts.
Ten days after the parties review the investigative report, a hearing officer will schedule a hearing. The parties do not go before a panel but before the hearing officer only. At the hearing, each party may have an advisor of their choice present. Advisors may ask questions of witnesses and the other party. After the hearing is over, the hearing officer deliberates and applies the preponderance of the evidence standard to determine if the alleged violation occurred.
If the hearing officer determines that the respondent is responsible for the violation, both parties must submit an impact statement for the hearing officer to consider sanctions.
Either party may appeal the outcome of a hearing or dismissal of a formal complaint by submitting written notice to the Title IX Coordinator within ten days of the decision. The case goes before a decision-maker, and each party may submit a written statement for the decision-maker to review. The appeal decision is final.
Possible Sanctions for Title IX and Sexual Misconduct at Excelsior College
Students found responsible for sexual misconduct violations at Excelsior College may face one or more of the following sanctions:
- Withholding degree or diploma
- Mandated counseling
- “No contact” directive
- Required letter of apology
- Unpaid service to the college
- Restitution for damage
Although Excelsior College like almost all schools will let the accused student know the potential range of sanctions, students who are found responsible may not realize until it may be too late that suspension is often an imposed sanction at a minimum in most cases, and expulsion is often a common sanction. The imposition of anything less than a suspension is by far the exception and not the rule.
The consequences of a sexual misconduct finding of responsibility will also not be limited to anything short-term. Even if a student were to overcome the consequences of a suspension, the student's candidacy for internships, graduate programs or professional schools, service in the military as an officer, and so forth, will all be greatly jeopardized by any finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct and the consequent sanction as these records will follow the student for years.
How a Title IX Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help
If you are facing an accusation of sexual misconduct at Excelsior College, you may feel overwhelmed by the formal procedures that go along with the disciplinary process. An attorney-advisor trained in student defense can help you through the process, ensuring you defend yourself as best as possible and protect your rights.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of college students across the country with sexual harassment and sexual misconduct allegations, including cases which involved the most egregious of allegations. Regardless of the nature of the allegations against you or your loved one, everything is at stake and you need to take the necessary steps to protect yourself or your loved one as early as possible in the process.
Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm by calling 888-535-3686 if you want to protect the future of your or your loved one's education.