Penn State has a uniform Title IX Protocol for all of their campuses. While the University keeps a Code of Conduct for non-sexual based offenses, the Title IX Protocol is used for instances of sexual misconduct or gender-based aggression. When a report is made against a student, there is a specialized protocol for presenting a student with charges and the potential sanctions that may result if they are held responsible.
Penn State Title IX Protocols
When a student is reported for a Title IX violation, they may be subjected to certain interim action from the University while the investigation is pending. These measures may include temporary suspension, a change in class schedule, loss of housing, and potential restriction from attendance to events or classes. "no contact orders" and interim suspensions can also be imposed. The person who initiated the report will be known as the "complainant," while the student facing Title IX charges will be known as the "respondent." Both complainant and respondent may need to provide information to the investigator during the Penn State Title IX disciplinary process. After information has been gathered an "Investigative Packet" will be forwarded to both complainant and respondent that contains the results of the investigation and whether or not it is necessary to pursue action. They are then given five (5) days to respond to the information within the packet. The respondent may agree or contest the charges, if the matter is contested, it will proceed to a hearing.
Hearings will be held and decided upon by a Title IX Decision Panel. The panel will convene after a period of five (5) business days of review of the information within the Investigative Packet. The panel will first hear the report from the investigator. Both parties will have an opportunity to address the panel personally, following the investigator's presentation. Both parties will also be able to be a witness to the opposing party's interactions with the panel. Parties will not be able to directly cross-examine one another, however, they may submit questions to the panel for the panel to present to the opposing party. After the panel believes enough has been heard, they will retire for private deliberations and to make a decision of "responsible" or "not responsible." Deliberations will be done using the standard of a "preponderance of evidence."
At hearings, both parties are entitled to the presence of an advisor. This advisor should be an attorney. Title IX violations are at a much more serious level than normal code violations are and are more likely to jeopardize a student's future; both academic and professional. Attorneys can offer students insight into courtroom tactics such as evidence presentation and methods of cross-examination. An attorney can also ensure the integrity of the Title IX investigation and disciplinary proceedings at Penn State is upheld, and that an accused student's rights and interests are protected throughout the process. If any additional adverse consequences result after the initial reporting of the sexual misconduct allegations at Penn State, an attorney can serve as an accused student's legal guide.
Penn State Title IX Appeals
In the event of an unfavorable outcome from a hearing, students are entitled to an appeals process. Appeals must be made within five (5) business days, however, for Title IX cases, appeals may only be made when the sanctions of suspension or expulsion are the potential consequences. Appeals must be on the grounds of a deprivation of rights, unfair sanctioning, or new evidence to change the outcome.