Life in college is supposed to be fun. You've worked hard to get there and are entitled to let your hair down a little. But for students at Georgia Institute of Technology accused of a Title IX violation or some other act of sexual misconduct, the fun can come to a crashing halt. Somehow your dreams of being a college graduate can be ripped away in an instant, and you may not know what your options are or where to turn. But don't fret. There are several steps you can take to help ensure you receive the best possible outcome, including having an attorney-advisor on your team from day one. Attorney-advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm, have worked with hundreds of students across the country defend themselves against sexual misconduct allegations. Call the Lento Law Firm today.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
Georgia Institute of Technology – Main Campus is committed to maintaining a diverse community and eliminating discrimination and sexual misconduct. They define sexual misconduct as nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, dating violence, stalking, or retaliation.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at Georgia Tech?
Everyone on campus is encouraged to stay vigilant and report incidents of sexual misconduct verbally or in writing to the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators, or other Responsible Employee of the Institute. If the conduct falls within the scope of Title IX, the complainant will need to file a formal complaint for a Title IX investigation to begin. In some instances, the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators, or even the Responsible Employee have the authority to file a formal complaint without the complainant.
Once the formal complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the accused student of the allegations and inform them of their opportunity to respond. The Title IX Coordinator will also gather documentary evidence and speak to relevant witnesses before finalizing their investigatory report. This report will be sent to all parties and the misconduct Hearing Panel.
The System Director of Equity & Investigations will determine, at the beginning of the investigation, if there are any interim measures the university is required to make. Interim measures might include:
- Having the victim or accused student change dorms
- Issuing a no-contact order
- Restricting the accused student's access to campus property
- Having the accused student rearrange their class schedule or having them supervised while on campus
- Requiring an interim suspension
After the investigative report is turned in, the case will be referred to a hearing. Both the complainant and the accused student have the right to present witnesses and evidence to the Hearing Panel, as well as confront any witnesses, including the other party. These requests must be made in writing to the Hearing Officer or Hearing Panel, and they will ask these questions on the party's behalf.
The Hearing Panel or Officer will determine whether, based on a preponderance of the evidence, the accused student is responsible for the violation in question. This determination will be memorialized in writing and distributed, along with relevant sanctions, to both parties.
Possible sanctions can include anything from temporary or permanent separation of the parties on campus, sensitivity training, loss of privileges to withholding transcripts, suspension, or complete expulsion from the university.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
Whatever the determination of the Hearing Officer or Panel, either party has the right to appeal. Appeals must be made in writing within five days of the final written decision and must be based on one of the following grounds:
- To consider new information that is sufficient to change the Hearing Officer or Panel's decision
- To bring other relevant facts not brought at the original hearing that were unknown at the tie but would alter the decision
- To allege a procedural error that impacted fairness
- To show a conflict of interest or bias
- To allege the finding was inconsistent based on the evidence and information available
The President will review the record of the hearing and make their determination on whether an appeal is warranted. This determination is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney Advisor Can Help
Getting accused of anything on campus can be overwhelming but getting accused of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation can have real, long-lasting consequences on not only your remaining time on campus but the future as well. If you are found responsible and penalized, you may be removed from campus organizations or housing where the victim is also involved or resides. The point is to separate you and the victim but may also force you to give up personal autonomy. You may no longer be able to decide where and when you eat, what group of friends you join, or what classes you can take. Additionally, if you are suspended or expelled, those sanctions will be recorded on your transcripts, requiring you to explain them when applying to graduate school or even on some employment applications.
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm will help mitigate these negative consequences by creating strategies that not only ensure Georgia Tech University upholds your due process rights but guarantees you the best possible outcome. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation. The Lento Law Firm is here to help.