Georgia Southern University is a Carnegie Doctorate/R2 public research university with three campuses and nearly 27,000 students. The three campuses are: the Statesboro Campus, the Armstrong Campus in Savannah, and the Liberty Campus in Hinesville. If you or a loved one is currently embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct or Title IX violations, you may feel frightened, worried, or even embarrassed about what others may think. One way to combat the overwhelm of all of those feelings while also defending your rights is to gather as much knowledge as possible and also to speak with an expert who can recommend the best path forward. This article will provide an overview of what you need to know about Georgia Southern University's approach to sexual misconduct and Title IX allegations.
Is There a Difference Between Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct at Georgia Southern University?
The first thing to clarify is whether or not there's a difference between Title IX and sexual misconduct charges at Georgia Southern.
Although Title IX and sexual misconduct are often used interchangeably, that is not actually true. Each school sets its own individual sexual misconduct guidelines and policies. Title IX, in contrast, refers to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the most-current guidance from the Department of Education regarding the execution of the policy. This particular amendment was designed to protect students from any sex-based discrimination, which sexual harassment falls under. Colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to enforce Title IX, or they could lose their funding.
At Georgia Southern University, all matters concerning sexual misconduct are addressed by the Title IX office. According to the Chapter Nine of the Code of Conduct at GSU, “All allegations of Sexual Misconduct will be reviewed by the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will facilitate any investigation needed based on the needs of the case. Any Formal Hearing(s) will be heard and adjudicated by a trained Sexual Misconduct board.”
Devos's Department of Education Title IX changes had narrowed the scope so that Title IX only applied to on-campus activities (if the allegations also met other requirements). GSU, however, has assumed jurisdiction. A brochure states, “Georgia Southern's Equal Opportunity and Sexual Misconduct policies apply to all students, employees, contractors, guests, and visitors to campus. The university has jurisdiction over all acts of sexual harassment and discrimination involving members of the campus community including those that occur off-campus, depending on the circumstances” (emphasis added). What this means, practically speaking, for you or your loved one is that the scope is more similar to the older Title IX guidelines, which were not as protective of respondent rights.
Georgia Southern University defines sexual misconduct as the following: anything that “includes, but is not limited to, such unwanted behavior as dating violence, domestic violence, nonconsensual sexual contact, nonconsensual sexual penetration, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment and stalking.” The code of conduct also offers more distinct definitions for each of those actions, as well as defines key terms like consent, University event, incapacitation, and more.
What is The Investigative Process at Georgia Southern University?
The first step that the Title IX Coordinator will take when a report is filed is to assess which path is the most appropriate one: a formal investigation, an informal resolution, or a dismissal. The code of conduct states that the university may choose to implement interim measures at any point, as they deem necessary “to restore or preserve equal access to the education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party.”
Both parties will also be provided with support services. For example, Georgia Southern University has created a helpful brochure for respondents (those accused) about the process.
The process for handling sexual harassment that falls under Title IX is outlined in section C of Chapter Nine, and behavior that does not fall under Title IX will be pursued via the school's sexual misconduct policy.
One thing that you should know about the investigative process is that “Formal judicial rules of evidence do not apply…. Additionally, the standard of review throughout the Sexual Misconduct process is a preponderance of the evidence.” A preponderance of evidence is a standard that is less rigorous than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
If the matter is not solved through an informal resolution, then the school will proceed with a hearing. At the hearing and throughout the investigative process, students are allowed to have help from an advisor (from outside of the school, if they wish).
There's an extensive explanation in Chapter Nine, section E, which runs through the hearings for both Title IX sexual misconduct and non-Title IX sexual misconduct.
What are Possible Consequences of College Sexual Misconduct?
While it is possible that the school might choose to enforce light(er) sanctions, the truth is that most frequently, suspension at a minimum and more likely expulsion are the most common sanctions. Additionally, the allegations can follow you beyond college and impact your employment, your graduate school application, and more.
Is it Possible to Appeal Decisions?
Appeals are explained in Chapter 9, section G; however, the main consideration is that there are only three instances where it's possible to appeal. In instances where:
- A procedural error occurred
- The finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information
- There is new information that was not available during the hearing that is sufficient to change the decision
A student may appeal in writing to the Office of Student Conduct within five business days of receiving their outcome letter. The OSC will gather pertinent and relevant information and deliver the packet to the President, who will examine the material and make a decision.
Trust an Expert Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Attorney-Advisor
With something as critical as sexual misconduct or Title IX allegations, you should not try to navigate your school's proceedings without the help of a professional. Something that can so drastically impact your future deserves expert assistance. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of students across the nation face these and similar allegations. You don't have to face this alone. Call 888.535.3686 or contact us online for more information.