Misericordia University takes instances of sexual misconduct that arise within its student body very seriously. The University holds its sexual misconduct policy within the pages of its Student Handbook. Within the booklet are the specific classifications of acts of sexual misconduct, as well as the University's complaint process for resolving them. This resolution process is similar in nature to resolving acts of standard misconduct, however, greater scrutiny is applied when doing so.
Sexual Misconduct Resolution at Misericordia University
The process for resolving incidents of sexual misconduct begins when a report is made to the University's Title IX Coordinator. Throughout the process, the student who initiates the complaint will be known as the "complainant," while the student who is facing accusations will be known as the "respondent." When receiving a report, the Title IX coordinator will conduct a brief title IX assessment. The assessment is meant to determine how the University will attempt to resolve the case, and what, if any, interim measures should be taken against the respondent. The University will impose certain measures if it is believed that a respondent poses a threat to the complainant, or to the integrity of the process. These measures can include relocation, rescheduling of classes, or even suspension for a period of time.
The Title IX Coordinator may opt for the situation to be resolved through an informal approach. This approach is meant to "remedy" the situation, and eliminate the hostile environment with few disciplinary results. This can include mediation, or subjecting the respondent to educational classes or measures outside their normal schedule. Instances and allegations of sexual assault may not be resolved informally.
If the Title IX Coordinator feels that formal disciplinary measures are appropriate for the case, an investigative team will be assembled for a full investigation. The time frame for completing an investigation will be at most 60 days after the complaint is reviewed. Investigations will consist of interviews with the complainant and respondent. Any additional witnesses or information may also be suggested at this time. After the investigative process has concluded, the investigative team and the Title IX Coordinator will consult, consider the facts together, and reach a decision. Decisions will be made using the standard of "a preponderance of the evidence."
Misericordia University does not specify who may attend interviews with the student. Sexual misconduct charges, however, are taken very seriously, and will be pursued with extreme diligence by the University. These allegations can have serious, long-term, negative consequences on a student's professional and academic career goals. Because of this reason, it is critical for an accused student to have an attorney to guide them through the Title IX investigation and disciplinary process. Whether such counsel is provided in a representative capacity with University officials, or from behind the scenes of an investigation, the necessary precautions must be taken. Attorneys can ensure that a student's rights remain protected throughout the entire process, and can also help the student strategize and find ways to suggest evidence and information that can influence the outcome. In addition, if any additional adverse consequences result after the initial reporting of the allegations at Misericordia University, an attorney can serve as an accused student's legal guide.
Appeals at Misericordia University
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students are able to make an appeal of the decision. Appeals must be submitted within five (5) working days of the outcome notification. The grounds for appeal are procedural error, or a suggestion of new evidence for consideration.