Gwynedd Mercy University seeks to establish a student environment free of any form of sexual harassment or misconduct. This stance is outlined in the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy, which also defines what acts are considered to be sexual misconduct. The policy also provides an overview of what disciplinary procedures are involved for acts of sexual misconduct.
Sexual Misconduct Policy at Gwynedd Mercy University
When a complaint is filed with a University official regarding potential sexual misconduct, the University Title IX Coordinator will conduct a brief initial assessment of the complaint to determine whether action is necessary under the sexual misconduct policy, and whether or not the situation warrants an informal or a formal resolution. Throughout the process, the student that files the complaint will be known as the complainant, while the student who is facing the allegations will be referred to as the "alleged perpetrator." At times, the University may decide it necessary to impose certain interim measures on the alleged perpetrator if it is believed that they are a threat to the complainant or the investigation. This can include a rescheduling of classes, or even a temporary suspension from the University until the case is resolved.
For cases that do not involve sexual assault, and are deemed appropriate by the Title IX Coordinator, the University may allow for an informal resolution. For this method to be used, both parties must agree to resolve the charges this way. This method may involve mediative meetings with the parties, either separately or together, and will attempt to reach satisfactory results for both parties. If no resolution can be achieved, then the matter will move forward to the formal resolution process.
Formal resolutions will invoke an investigation run by an individual or team that is selected by the Title IX Coordinator. Investigations will consist of separate meetings with the parties involved in the complaint, as well as any suggested witnesses. Both parties may also suggest any evidence they wish to be considered. The investigator will conclude with a final report that will either make a finding based on a "preponderance of evidence," or push the case forward to the final step, a formal hearing.
Formal hearings will be held in front of a panel, whose members will consist of persons selected by the Title IX coordinator. The panel will have access to the investigative report, and will be responsible for deciding the hearing. At hearings, the complainant and the respondent (alleged perpetrator) will give opening statements, with the complainant going first. Next, the panel will question both parties. Following the initial questioning of the complainant and respondent, witnesses will be presented and questioned by the panel. The investigator will make clarifying statements, and both parties may then make their closing statements. After this, the hearing panel will close the hearing and make a decision based on "a preponderance of evidence."
At hearings, students may be accompanied by a support person of their own choosing. Sexual misconduct allegations can seriously jeopardize a student's academic career, and any other future goals they may have. For this reason, students should select an attorney to serve as their support at their hearings and throughout the investigation. An attorney can provide knowledge of argument that can greatly influence the outcome of a hearing, and can also make sure a student's rights are not infringed upon during the investigation and Title IX disciplinary process. In addition, if any additional consequences follow the reporting of the incident at Gwynedd Mercy University, an attorney can serve as a legal guide.
Appeals at Gwynedd Mercy University
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students may make an appeal. Appeals are due within five (5) days following the notice of outcome. The grounds for appeal are procedural error, new information, or improper sanctions.