If your university has notified you of a sexual misconduct allegation against you, then you may be worried about what comes next. And if you're not worried, you should be. Sexual misconduct violations at Brandeis University are serious matters, and the repercussions can follow you for years afterward. In addition to university sanctions such as suspension or expulsion, you may find it difficult to get a job or internship or enroll in graduate school.
When you're facing a sexual misconduct accusation at Brandeis, you need an experienced attorney-advisor who will look out for your best interests and stand by your side.
College Sexual Misconduct and Title IX at Brandeis
Brandeis was one of several Massachusetts universities that opposed some of the 2020 Title IX regulations. Nevertheless, the university issued new policies to reflect the Title IX changes and incorporated previous policies that were in place at Brandeis before the change. The university also created a new Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).
Prohibited sexual misconduct under Brandeis policy:
Consensual romantic or sexual relationships between faculty or staff and undergraduate students (see Brandeis' separate policy regarding relationships).
Sexual exploitation. Examples would be non-consensual photographing or recording of sexual activity or nudity, observing or spying on someone involved in sexual activity without their consent, or exposing intimate body parts to someone else without their consent.
- Retaliation. Retaliation is negative behavior toward someone for reporting concerns about discrimination, harassment, or sexual violence. Examples would be aggression, intimidation, threats or verbal abuse, different treatment, or bullying.
Prohibited sexual harassment/violence under Title IX and Brandeis policy:
- Quid Pro Quo Harassment by an Employee. Quid Pro Quo Harassment is when an employee conditions education or employment on the submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual conduct either explicitly or implicitly.
- Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment under Title IX is unwelcome conduct that is so pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal access to the university's education program or activity.
- Sexual assault. Sexual assault is any sexual act against an individual through force and without consent.
- Dating violence. Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the accuser.
- Domestic violence. Domestic violence includes verbal, physical, emotional, or psychological abuse committed by a former spouse or intimate partner, co-parent, or cohabitant.
- Stalking. Stalking is conduct directed at one person that would cause that person to fear for their safety or the safety of those around them. Stalking may also cause substantial emotional distress.
The Brandeis definition of sexual violence is when conduct meets the definitions of Title IX, but not the jurisdictional requirements of the Title IX grievance process (see below for more about the Title IX grievance process at Brandeis). Examples of behavior considered sexual misconduct by Brandeis but not by Title IX would be:
- Sexual assault of a Brandeis student that occurs off-campus
- Dating violence committed by a Brandeis community member while studying abroad
- When a Brandeis student or employee stalks a non-Brandeis community member
To clarify, students can bring any violation of sexual misconduct policies, whether they fall under Title IX or not, to the OEO.
The Sexual Misconduct Process at Brandeis
The OEO receives all formal complaints of sexual misconduct at Brandeis, including Title IX complaints. For complaints of sexual misconduct, the OEO has two separate process determination procedures.
The process starts when the OEO receives a notice from an individual about suspected sexual misconduct. After notifying the OEO, that person can initiate a formal complaint. After the OEO makes a written complaint, the office notifies the respondent (the accused person).
If both parties agree to it, they can resolve the matter with an informal resolution. The complaint won't go under investigation and won't proceed to a hearing if the parties agree to an informal resolution.
Before starting a hearing, Brandeis allows the OEO to investigate a formal complaint. This process involves gathering evidence, interviewing the parties and witnesses, and preparing a final report. Both parties may view and comment on the report once it's done. During the hearing, both parties can use the evidence the OEO investigator gathered.
At this point, the complaint will either go through the Title IX grievance process or the Brandeis formal resolution process. The complaint may only go through the Title IX grievance process if it meets the following three jurisdictional requirements:
- Occurred in the U.S.
- Occurred in a university program or activity
- Complainant is participating in university program
If the complaint goes through the Title IX grievance procedure, a Decision-Making Panel will review the investigative report, and a live video-conference hearing takes place. Parties must have an advisor at the hearing to cross-examine witnesses and the other party.
If the complaint goes through the Brandeis formal resolution process, the investigative report will go to a Decision-Making Panel (only comprised of Brandeis staff or faculty), and the panel reviews it and makes a decision. There is no hearing.
Through both processes outlined above, the panel decides if the respondent violated sexual misconduct policies and sends the case to the Dean of Students Office, an employee's supervisor, or dean with Human Resources for sanctions.
Both parties may appeal the panel's decision, if the appeal is filed within