The leadership at St. John's University has a commitment to maintaining an atmosphere that is free from sexual discrimination. They have trained staff and tremendous resources for victims of sexual abuse, stalking, dating violence and other prohibited acts. These efforts are part of the administration's compliance with federal Title IX guidelines. The U.S. Department of Education implemented Title IX laws in 1972 that prohibit sexually-based discrimination at educational institutions. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for providing guidance, monitoring, and enforcement. All schools that receive federal education funding are subject to the provisions.
OCR Monitoring and Compliance
The OCR will assess the policies and procedures in place at colleges and universities when they receive complaints of potential non-compliance. They will typically work with the school's Title IX Coordinator to better develop how complaints of sexual misconduct are investigated. Often this will involve improving awareness of the importance of reporting potential incidents of harassment and better training about how these measures should be enforced.
Available Resources for Victims of Sexual Violence
The Office of Student Life ensures that sufficient resources are available for victims of sexually-based misconduct. The Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) maintains a staff of professionals that will address concerns regarding mental health and offers counseling. The Campus Support Advisor is another resource for those in need that will make referrals to campus or community services. The University has formed a partnership with Elmhurst Hospital as part of their Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program (SAVI) that is available for all medical concerns. All of these programs are provide at no cost and maintaining confidentiality is among their primary concerns.
Student Bill of Rights
The Office of Student Life has adopted a Student Bill of Rights that entitles students to the following:
- The right to contact the local authorities as needed
- To have complaints of sexually-based incidents taken seriously
- A process of investigation that is fair and impartial
- Access to medical care and counseling
- Protection from acts of retaliation for reporting alleged violations
- The ability to appeal any decision or ruling
- To be accompanied by an advisor of their choice in the disciplinary process
A fundamental aspect of sexually-based misconduct is all parties that engage in sexual activity are to do so willingly and voluntarily. Individuals must have given affirmative consent, which may be done either through words or actions. Consent may not be obtained through physical force, threats, or forms of coercion.
Right to Advisor
All parties involved in processes relating to disciplinary conduct have a right to choose an advisor. This individual functions in a role that provides assistance and support. The advisor may accompany the party to all meeting or hearings. The Office of Student Conduct must be notified in writing when using an advisor at least two days prior to a hearing. It is highly advisable that students consider having an attorney fill this role.
These matters are heard by a University Conduct Board that consists of at least three individuals. The individuals must be members of the faculty or administration in matters relating to sexual misconduct; however, the University allows students to serve on the Board in less serious disciplinary cases. The panel members have received initial training and then receive continuing instruction each year. The parties have the opportunity to present witnesses at the hearing. Witness lists must be received two days prior to a hearing by the Office of Student Conduct.
Whether or not a violation occurred is based on an evidentiary standard of a preponderance of the evidence. This is whether it is “more likely than not” that it occurred. The Board will compile a summary of findings in writing shortly after a hearing. This decision is reviewed by the Dean of Students and will state the sanctions or penalties to be imposed when applicable. All parties will receive this document and are able to appeal.
Those found to have violated the rules of conduct are subject to sanctions. The party may be ordered to make monetary restitution if a victim incurred losses and also may be subject to fines. The offender may be ordered to complete hours of approved community service. Students may lose their eligibility to reside in University-housing. Disciplinary probation may be imposed for a defined time period. For more serious violations, the administration may impose a period of suspension or permanent expulsion.
Students who intend to appeal a decision or ruling must notify the Dean of Students of such intentions in writing within five days. The grounds for an appeal must be that written procedure was not adhered to during the process, or that new evidence has emerged. These details must be contained in a formal appeals document that must be received within 15 days after the original decision. The Dean of Students will review the appeal and refer the matter to the University Conduct Appeal Board if it is warranted. This Board may affirm the prior ruling or reverse the finding.
Details of disciplinary violations are documented and retained for a one-year period. When the student was either suspended or expelled from the University these records will remain for a period of seven years.
St. Johns University Title IX Coordinator
Director of Equal Opportunity, Compliance and Title IX
Office of Human Resources, University Center
Benefits of Retaining Experienced Legal Counsel
Students facing allegations of sexual misconduct should consult with legal counsel. Harsh sanctions such as suspension or expulsion can dramatically hinder your future educational plans. Having legal representation will help to ensure your rights are protected. They may assist you with drafting effective statements for hearings and have you sufficiently prepared to confidently respond to questions.
An Attorney for Defending Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
Joseph D. Lento is an attorney that aggressively defends college and university students in Title IX disciplinary matters. You deserve to make certain that action is taken in support of your best interests. Please contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.