At Stony Brook University (SBU) they have established the Center for Prevention and Outreach. This is an organization that is centered on issues of public health including substance abuse, mental health, and sexual and interpersonal violence. The administrators that are responsible for Title IX compliance and enforcement are found within this segment of the campus community. The University strives to eliminate forms of discrimination involving “sex, gender, and/or gender identity” in part through its effective Title IX policies and procedures. They enforce Title IX provisions among student, faculty, staff, vendors, and more. They also mandate that SBU employees report any incidents of sexual violence to Title IX Administrators.
Key Responsibilities for Title IX Compliance at Colleges & Universities
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) outlines the key requirements that schools must adhere to. Schools are to foster an environment that is free from hostility and the various forms of sexually-based harassment. When a school is made aware of a potential violation, they are tasked with responding to investigate in a timely fashion. The administration may use penalties and other remedies to enforce and deter actions that violate the rules relating to gender-based violence and sexual misconduct.
Student Rights in Cases of Sexual and Interpersonal Violence
- To file a report with law enforcement agencies
- That all reports of sexual violence or discrimination are taken seriously by the institution
- A right to fair and impartial treatment
- Access to services including health care and counseling
- Protection from retaliation
- The right to appeal and more.
The University has the ability to use interim measures involving parties in the investigative and disciplinary process. A “no-contact” directive is a commonly used measure that prohibits the parties from communicating or intentionally encountering one another. An interim suspension may also be employed when the administration deems it to be in the best interest of safety. Other measures include adjusting (altering) student class schedules or relocating those in University housing.
The disciplinary process states that alleged acts of misconduct must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence standard. This means that the violation “more likely than not” did occur. The Complainant bears the responsibility to satisfy this burden of proof.
Alternative Methods of Resolution
The University has options for resolving matters through alternative means such as mediation. In these instances, the parties must voluntarily choose to meet with a mediator to resolve conflicts. These methods are generally deemed as inappropriate for allegations of more serious violent action.
Right to an Advisor
Parties may be accompanied by one advisor of their choice to disciplinary hearings and to assist with drafting any written statements. The advisor is not to present evidence or engage in direct questioning during the proceedings. An attorney is sometimes retained for this role and still subject to these limitations; however, an experienced attorney is likely to make sure you are adequately prepared with a comprehensive defense strategy, and as needed, will be able to advocate on a client's behalf in prospective negotiations with the school.
These disciplinary matters are heard by a Hearing Board that is composed of between three and five members. The Board must be composed by a minimum of one faculty member and one student. They are tasked with issuing a ruling and potentially imposing sanctions.
All evidence that the parties will be presenting during the hearing must be shared with the opposing party at a minimum of two days in advance. University officials may deem the information submitted as inadmissible. Character witness testimony is admissible in the form of a written statement. Both sides have an opportunity to issue opening and closing statements and have oral witness testimony. Witnesses are able to be questioned.
There are a host of potential sanctions that may be imposed as follows:
- A written warning stating the alleged violation of conduct
- Monetary restitution may be ordered
- The student may be restricted from participation in university events, activities, and organizations
- Students may be physically restricted from visiting certain campus areas
- A period of disciplinary probation may be imposed. During this period the student may be required to meet with a University administrator on some regular interval
- The student may be ineligible from holding positions in student government
- Students may be required to attend a substance abuse program or to submit to counseling
- Suspension from residing in University housing
- A temporary suspension from the University
Appealing a Ruling
There are several grounds that may justify an appeal. The first is if the respondent believes that the process deviated from a written procedure. If new evidence has been uncovered it may also be justifiable for appeal. If the sanctions imposed are believed to be excessive, the party may also appeal. Those wishing to appeal must file their intention within seven days after a ruling.
Stony Brook University Title IX Coordinator Contact
Marjolie Leonard Senior Director, Title IX and ADA Coordinator
Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity Administration Building Room 201
Stony Brook, NY 11794-0251
How Would I Benefit From Legal Representation?
College and university students should be aware of the potential severity of the sanctions that may be imposed for these types of violations. These relate exclusively to the institution's disciplinary process, which is distinct from any potential criminal charges that are the responsibility of the local authorities. Institutions of higher learning are increasingly using less staff and faculty than ever before to control costs. Often the administrators managing campus disciplinary matters are doing so while also maintaining a host of other responsibilities. Under these pressures, it is possible that they may inadvertently operate with minimal regard for the rights of the accused.
Student Title IX Defense Attorney at Stony Brook University
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years assisting students facing Title IX violations, as well as those engaged in many other areas of campus disciplinary action. Highly effective representation will better ensure you are well prepared for a hearing and ready to respond to allegations. Please contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for details.