If someone has accused you of sexual misconduct at Texas State University, it is natural to go through a range of emotions. There is a stigma attached to even disproven allegations, and schools can feel pressured to make an example of students. Despite how intimidating your school's sexual misconduct disciplinary process is, it is even more important that you don't bury your head in the sand. You shouldn't shy away from tackling unfair allegations and lose your opportunity to defend yourself. Securing an experienced attorney advisor and familiarizing yourself with school policy and time limits to appeal will give you the best possible chance at a favorable outcome.
Texas Colleges and Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Cases
Sexual harassment is prohibited in schools under federal civil rights law. Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment in educational institutions across the United States, including Texas State University.
Texas colleges may have their school policies, but they must comply with up-to-date federal guidance on Title IX to receive federal funding. In practice, almost all educational institutions are reliant on federal funding. Texas Colleges rewrite their school sexual misconduct policies when the Department of Education publishes new Title IX guidance.
In recent years, school sexual misconduct policies have become a hot-button issue, with guidance violently shifting according to party politics. Federal guidance on implementing Title IX guidance is subject to change and underwent significant changes under the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations.
The lack of stability in Title IX rules can hurt students. Schools increasingly must sanction students under swiftly implemented, untested policies. What's more, while historically, colleges have nearly always processed sexual misconduct claims under Title IX policy, increasingly, schools are writing their own distinct sexual misconduct policies covering a greater span of sexual misconduct than Title IX. These policies can bow to campus culture and pressure from donors to be harder on the accused.
Given the many changes to college misconduct policies in recent years, it is more important than ever to familiarize yourself carefully with school policy and make sure you have an advisor who knows the system.
Texas State University: Your School's New Title IX Policy
Texas State University Sexual Misconduct Policy protects students, faculty, staff, and visitors from discrimination on the basis of gender, sex, gender identity or expression, and sexual orientation.
“Sexual misconduct” at Texas State University is a broad term covering a range of unwanted sexual behavior. According to Texas State's policies, it “includes — but is not limited to — sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual intimidation, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Sexual misconduct can be committed by people of any gender, by strangers or intimate partners, and can occur between or among people of the same or different gender”.
The Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX manages Title IX programs and investigates discrimination and sexual misconduct claims on the Texas State University campus. Texas State has a strict Title IX reporting policy, and the school will fire any employee who knowingly fails to report sexual misconduct.
When someone makes a formal complaint under Title IX, they trigger a formal investigation. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX investigate with a process compliant with Title IX guidance. Title IX investigations come with due process. If the school investigates you for a Title IX offense, they must allow you an advisor or attorney advisor throughout the process. The school must also follow a required timeframe and give you an opportunity to defend yourself from allegations.
Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Process at Texas State University
If someone has made a formal complaint against you, The Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX will investigate the incident and determine any sanctions. If the school is investigating you, you still have rights, and they must follow due process.
After someone makes a report against you, the school will forward the report to the Title IX Coordinator. The school will then pursue the following process.
- Staff will notify you that there is an investigation and provide the university policy outlining your rights.
- The Title IX Coordinator will make an initial assessment, evaluating the report to decide whether it warrants an investigation.
- Staff will collect evidence and interviews from the involved parties, including witnesses, and prepare a written report of all documented evidence.
- If the investigation finds that you did not violate school policy based on the preponderance of the evidence, the school will notify both you and your accuser.
- If the case is not dropped at this stage, it will proceed to a live hearing. At the hearing, your advisor may directly cross-examine your accuser and witnesses on your behalf.
- If the school finds that you violated school policy, the Office of Equity and Inclusion will notify the appropriate administrator, and the school will decide upon a sanction.
- Either party may appeal the finding or the sanction of a sexual misconduct investigation.
Non-Title IX Grievance Process
Someone may report an incident of sexual harassment that does not meet the threshold for a Title IX offense. In this case, the school may pursue an alternative non-Title IX investigation. The main difference between a Title IX and a non-Title IX grievance procedure is that the Title IX grievance process by law must involve a live hearing in which each of the party's advisors can directly cross-examine any witnesses.
Following the investigation of a non-Title IX incident, a student can make a written request for a hearing. However, neither party shall be compelled to attend a hearing, it may take place virtually rather than live, and any cross-examination will be conducted by the school rather than by the party's advisors.
There are four grounds for appeal for sexual misconduct findings:
- procedural irregularity
- new evidence
- conflict of interest or bias
- disproportionate sanction
Either party can appeal the determination of a sexual misconduct investigation. To do so, you must file a written request to appeal, with supporting information, within ten calendar days of the school's decision.
The school will not enforce any sanctions until any appeal is complete or the window to appeal has elapsed.
Penalties of Sexual Misconduct at Texas State University
The penalties for sexual misconduct at Texas State University are wide-ranging. According to the school's Sexual Misconduct Policy, the sanctions you face could include any number of the following:
- No-contact orders
- Probation (including disciplinary and academic probation)