Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Defense at Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a public research university located in the heart of Detroit. Wayne State, Michigan's third-largest university with about 350 degree programs and over 26,000 students, focuses on the core values of integrity, collaboration, excellence, innovation, and diversity. Home to both a medical school and law school, Wayne State touts that it attracts the future problem solvers of urban communities. It also partners with Michigan State University on research projects.

Sexual Misconduct Codes at Wayne State

Like other prominent schools, Wayne State guards its reputation and standing as one of Michigan's leading universities, in part by maintaining codes of student conduct prohibiting sexual misconduct. Two very different student codes at Wayne State prohibit various forms of sexual misconduct. Wayne State's Title IX policy prohibits those forms of sex discrimination that federal law requires a school to prohibit to receive federal funding. Wayne State's general Student Code of Conduct prohibits other forms of sexual misconduct in broad and ambiguous language. If someone alleges that you or someone you know engaged in sexual misconduct at Wayne State, then the chances are good that the allegation will implicate both codes.

Title IX Sex Discrimination at Wayne State

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at schools that receive federal funding. Wayne State adopted its Title IX policy to comply with federal law and ensure its continued federal funding. Wayne State's Title IX policy, like other Title IX policies complying with federal law, prohibits these forms of sex discrimination:

  • “unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access” to the University's education program or activity
  • a university employee conditioning an academic benefit on participation in sexual activity
  • stalking
  • sexual assault
  • dating violence and domestic violence

Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct at Wayne State

Wayne State's general Student Code of Conduct prohibits academic misconduct like cheating and plagiarism, behavioral misconduct like theft and property damage, and many other forms of misconduct. It also prohibits sexual misconduct in an arguably very broad and contradictory or ambiguous provision. Section 4.0 Prohibited Conduct begins, “The following conduct is subject to disciplinary action when it occurs on University or Housing premises, or in connection with a University course or University documents, or at a University-sponsored activity.” Section 4.18 then states simply, “Any form of sexual misconduct.” Any form of sexual misconduct violates Wayne State's Student Conduct Code.

Yet Wayne State's Student Conduct Code Section 2.15 separately provides this definition: “‘Sexual misconduct' means non-consensual sexual touching, including, among other things, non-consensual oral sex.” So, either any form of sexual misconduct violates Wayne State's Student Conduct Code as Section 4.18 states, or only non-consensual sexual touching violates the Student Conduct Code if one ignores the “any” prohibition and takes only Section 2.15's definition. If you are a student whom Wayne State accuses of sexual misconduct, you will need expert representation from a national college and university sexual misconduct defense attorney.

Sexual Misconduct Complaints at Wayne State

Anyone at Wayne State, not just students, and not just victims, can report sexual misconduct to the university. Reports of Title IX violations go to Wayne State's Title IX coordinator, while reports of non-Title IX sexual misconduct go to the university's Student Conduct Officer. Reports may be by phone or email or through an online form. The Title IX coordinator can assist the alleged victim in filing a complaint with university officials and law enforcement. Wayne State also appoints Deputy Title IX Coordinators to assist with complaints involving athletics, campus housing, employees, and the School of Medicine.

Wayne State has no statute of limitations for these incidents. University officials also want to know if a complaint leads to retaliation. These reports can be anonymous. Wayne State faculty and staff members must report suspected Title IX violations. Even if the victim is unwilling to cooperate, the university will investigate. The university offers counseling and modifications of work and class schedules to the victim and the respondent. It “will not rely on fixed rules or operating assumptions that favor one party over another.” If someone complains that you engaged in sexual misconduct at Wayne State, do not wait for the university to take further action. Retain and consult national college and university sexual misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm.

Investigation Process at Wayne State

Wayne State asserts that it conducts its investigation process to seek the truth, preserve dignity, be impartial, and maintain consistency. For example, it says that it encourages confidentiality and privacy. The university also says that it accepts the burden of proof to prove misconduct, while trying “to ensure that sex- or gender-based stereotypes or generalizations will not be used.” The investigator is supposed to gather evidence and evaluate the credibility of the witnesses. The respondent should receive written notice of the allegations with time to prepare a response before an interview. Both parties should get to respond to the investigator's written report. The report will state whether a violation of the Student Code of Conduct occurred based on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard.

Yet investigations are not always fair. University officials can rush the investigation, decline to interview witnesses, and jump to conclusions depending on their viewpoints and interests. Wayne State also grants the complainant amnesty from punishment for alcohol or drug use during the alleged incident. Wayne State may also suspend the accused student immediately and even bar the student from campus, making classwork impossible and gathering exonerating evidence difficult at best. Wayne State's procedures permit the accused student to contest a suspension.

Misconduct Hearing Procedures at Wayne State

If the investigation does not result in an agreed-upon resolution, then the sexual misconduct charges proceed to a hearing. Title IX regulations currently grant the accused student more rights and protections than accused students enjoy in non-Title IX proceedings. Wayne State follows those differences. For instance, if the allegations are of non-Title IX sexual misconduct, the hearing panel may consider affidavits from witnesses who do not testify. While the accused student may bring an attorney, only the student, not the attorney, gets to question witnesses. But in a Title IX proceeding, the hearing panel may only consider the testimony of witnesses who appear, not affidavits. And the accused student's attorney in a Title IX proceeding at Wayne State may question and cross-examine witnesses. In either case, though, both Title IX and non-Title-IX proceedings warrant the accused student's representation by a national expert academic sexual misconduct defense attorney. Don't leave your education and career at risk.

Appeals

Wayne State's sexual misconduct procedures provide that the respondent has the right to appeal and can have an advisor or attorney assist with the appeal. The student must file the appeal within 20 days of the decision. The respondent signs a Written Request for Review and submits it to the Student Conduct Officer, providing a copy to the dean of the college or Dean of Students. The Student Conduct Officer will forward the appeal to the president of the university. The president has the power to affirm, modify, or reverse the decision. A less common option is a referral of the matter back to the college.

Another possibility is a request for a postponement of the sanction. This request must be made to the president within seven days, and the dean must receive a copy. The president will contact the dean immediately. A postponement will be granted unless the dean demonstrates injury to the university or third parties outweighs the damage to the respondent due to a denial. The president's decision on a postponement will come within three school days and will be final. In either case, appeal or postponement request, expert representation by a national academic sexual misconduct defense attorney is not only wise but practically necessary.

Who Can Help Protect Your Future?

While Wayne State has some safeguards in place to avoid stereotyping and railroading the accused, you don't want to go it alone when facing such a serious accusation. Being found responsible for sexual misconduct can wreck your future plans. It could result in suspension or expulsion from school which literally can have a lifetime of negative consequences. Not only is your school status at risk, but your future employment opportunities could suffer at an absolute minimum.

Wayne State will allow you to have an attorney to protect your rights and interests. National academic attorney Joseph D. Lento is your right choice for expert representation. Attorney Lento has represented hundreds of clients in sexual misconduct cases nationwide. His knowledge of Title IX, administrative procedures, and academic culture offers you the best available representation.

Call Attorney Joseph Lento at 888-535-3686.

Contact Us Today!

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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