The first classes were held at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in 1792. The current total student enrollment now exceeds 12,000. The school's mission statement includes a commitment to the “diversity of its students, faculty, and staff.” Promoting diversity is a goal that is consistent with federal Title IX guidelines, which were established to ensure that schools properly address sexual discrimination in education.
Standards of Evidence
The traditional standard for proving allegations is by a preponderance of the evidence that applies to civil matters. This is a far lesser burden compared to beyond a reasonable doubt, which is used in criminal matters. The federal Title IX guidelines were recently changed to also allow institutions to employ a clear and convincing evidence standard. Georgetown University allows for either standard to be used based on the circumstances to be explained further.
Administration Responsible for Title IX at Georgetown
The Office of the Title IX Coordinator at Georgetown is located in Suite M36 of Darnall Hall. Those seeking to file a complaint may do so in-person. Complaints may also be submitted anonymously through the DC Rape Crisis Center or the Georgetown Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP). Victims of sexual discrimination, assault or other abuse will find a host of available resources for support such as at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Those employed by the University must report incidents of sexually-based misconduct. This is deemed as critical to maintaining a safe community. When possible, this information should contain the identities of the parties involved and any witnesses.
The Rights of the Accused
Those who are accused of violating Title IX guidelines have certain rights that will be protected as follows:
- To be treated respectfully in the process
- Presumed to be innocent unless the allegations are proven by a “more likely than not” standard
- Free from any acts of retaliation by employees, students, etc.
- The right to choose and be accompanied by an advisor during all proceedings
- All accusations and potential sanctions that may be imposed will be presented in writing
Possible Alternative Resolution
Informal methods of resolving these matters may be considered if the complaining party and responding party agree and the Director for Student Conduct agrees that this is a viable option. Alternative resolution is not an appropriate option for complaints involving sexual assault or other more serious allegations.
The Hearing Panel is selected from a “pool of students and faculty/staff members” that receive ongoing training in the University's processes and procedures. The composition of the panel typically includes two faculty or staff members and one student.
Formal methods of processing Title IX complaints will typically result in all parties being summoned to a hearing. A Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel is designated to hear these complaints and issue decisions. The Director of Student Conduct also will select a Chair of the Hearing Panel that is responsible for facilitating hearings.
Georgetown University procedures explain that a “preponderance of the evidence” standard applies to most cases. A “clear and convincing” evidence standard may be employed for matters that involve “off-campus behaviors not included under the policy.”
Sanctions and Considerations
The Hearing Panel is provided with an “Impact Statement” that summarizes any history of violations committed by the responding party. The sanctions that are likely to be imposed include being suspended or dismissed from the institution. In determining appropriate sanctions, the Hearing Panel may consider the severity of the violation, the student's prior conduct, and other factors.
Appeals Process at Georgetown
If a party wishes to appeal an adverse decision, they must submit a Statement of Appeal within seven days. An appeal may be appropriate when it is believed that a “substantial” error in procedure occurred during the process. Other valid grounds for an appeal are when new relevant information that was not available has surfaced. Parties may also appeal when they believe that the sanctions imposed are “substantially” disproportionate to the violation committed.
Benefits of Retaining an Attorney
A seasoned lawyer is best-suited to accurately interpret the policies developed at each school. Your attorney may independently scrutinize the evidence and develop an alternate perspective that detects weaknesses or flaws.
Your attorney will be a great resource in terms of preparation. You should be well-prepared to deliver logical statements and effectively respond to questions that you will likely encounter.
Colleges and universities today are operating in a competitive market that requires them to minimize administrative costs. Often, existing administrators are assuming significant additional responsibilities. Academic leaders are well-aware that harmful publicity may be widely circulated in our interconnected digital landscape.
Overburdened institutional administrators may seek to resolve disciplinary matters very promptly and may be more likely to levy severe sanctions. Your attorney will protect your rights to due process and may look for opportunities to engage in negotiations on your behalf.
Georgetown Title IX Attorney
The Lento Law Firm offers effective representation for college and university students faced with allegations of misconduct such as those related to Title IX. You deserve to have your rights protected. Contact the office immediately at (888) 535-3686 for assistance.