Fordham University complies with federal Title IX guidelines as part of their comprehensive commitment to maintaining an environment that is “safe, respectful, and discrimination-free” for all on campus. These efforts are led by their Institutional Equity and Compliance Office. Some of the concerns they address include sexual and gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and dating and domestic violence.
Title IX Overview
The U.S. Department of Education enacted Title IX in 1972 as a measure that requires educational institutions to prevent and enforce rules related to sexually-based discrimination. The guidelines apply in areas such as admissions, athletics, and campus organizations. All schools that receive federal education funding are subject to the laws. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for oversight to ensure compliance.
Response to Complaints
The University promptly investigates all complaints of misconduct involving a student, faculty, or staff member. The administration will contact the parties involved and gather information from witnesses. These actions are conducted independently from any criminal or civil actions that may be underway.
Internal Investigation and Conduct Process
The University's Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures allow for either formal or informal means of resolving these matters. In situations where the accused (respondent) acknowledges responsibility for the violation, the informal option seeks to reach a mutually acceptable resolution among the parties. Informal approaches are not used in instances where the violation involves forcible sexual actions. The University has various potential sanctions or penalties that may be imposed such as a suspension period or expulsion.
Parties are promptly notified in writing that the administration is conducting a formal inquiry. This will include a summary of the alleged violation(s) and any sanctions that may be imposed. Parties are given adequate notice regarding the time, place and location for any meetings that will be held.
Investigation and Conduct Process
The investigation is conducted with assistance from the Department of Public Safety as needed. This fact-finding period is where the evidence is compiled that will be considered in order to reach a determination. When the respondent is a student, a hearing is held that is led by a Hearing Officer that is appointed either by the Deputy Title IX Coordinator or Dean of Students. In those involving faculty or other staff, the hearing is facilitated by a University Vice President or their designee.
Advisor of Choice
All parties involved in a complaint have a right to be accompanied by an advisor during the process. This role is supportive in nature and advisors may be present for any meetings or hearings. The name of the party serving as an advisor should be provided to the Dean of Students that is overseeing the matter within 48 hours of any scheduled hearing. Although the role of the advisor may be assumed by an attorney, this individual is unable to directly question witnesses or respond directly to questions posed to the respondent.
Evidentiary Standard and Evidence Review
Violations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence standard. This is a determination based on whether it is “more likely than not” that the violation occurred. Both parties are able to present evidence and information that is relevant to the matter. The respondent is afforded ample opportunity to respond to all allegations.
Both the respondent and complainant are to submit an impact statement to the Dean of Students at least 48 hours prior to a hearing. This is an opportunity for the parties to propose issues to be addressed or questions that may be asked during the proceedings.
There are a host of potential sanctions or penalties that may be imposed including;
- A formal written reprimand
- The violator may be placed on a period of disciplinary probation
- Ineligibility for residing in University housing
- Suspension or expulsion from the University
When a student is ruled to have been in violation and has sanctions imposed they may appeal the decision. The intent to appeal must be submitted to the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs within a period of 48 hours. There are three grounds for an appeal as follows:
- That the University's written procedures were not adhered to
- A believe that the sanctions imposed are excessive in comparison to the violation(s)
- Evidence that could have had an impact on the ruling has become available
Appeals are considered by the five-member Student Conduct Review Council (SCRC). The administration will replace any panel member in the event of a potential conflict of interest. The SCRC will vote on the appeal and may affirm the ruling, modify the sanctions imposed, or have the matter remanded back to the Dean for reassessment.
Records and Transcripts
The University may note the findings of disciplinary action on student transcripts. This is done in accordance with Article 129-B §6444.6 of the New York State Education Law. When the conduct violation was deemed as an act of violence it will be placed on the student's transcript indefinitely. The notation will also contain the sanction(s) imposed when the penalty was either a suspension or expulsion.
Fordham Title IX Coordinator Contact
Title IX Coordinator
Cunniffe House Room 114 Rose Hill Campus
New York Defense Lawyer for Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct
The outcome of disciplinary actions that relate to acts of sexual misconduct may dramatically alter your educational goals. Those facing such allegations are therefore encouraged to consult with an attorney soon after becoming aware of the allegations. The U.S. Department of Education has recently made a host of proposed changes to the Title IX guidelines. Some of these pending changes include altering the manner in which sexual harassment is defined and changes in the evidentiary standards. During these volatile times, it is critical that you have proper guidance throughout the process.
Are you a student or parent of a student at a New York college or university that has been accused of sexual misconduct? Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience necessary to ensure that your rights are protected in these actions. These matters generally have time restraints that must be adhered to; for example, those wishing to appeal a decision will generally have only a few days to do so. For this reason, it is critical to retain legal representation quickly! Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.