Susquehanna University takes instances of sexual misconduct that arise within its student body very seriously. The University uses a Sexual Misconduct Policy contained within the University's Student Handbook. The Sexual Misconduct Policy outlines what behaviors are considered to be acts of sexual misconduct, and what disciplinary actions the University will take against students who engage in these activities. These disciplinary processes are similar to those used for standard disciplinary actions, however, they are taken much more seriously.
Sexual Misconduct at Susquehanna University
The process for enacting disciplinary measures on students who violate the sexual misconduct policy begins when a complaint is filed with the Title IX Coordinator. Throughout the disciplinary process, the student facing the allegations will be known as the "respondent," while the student who initiates the complaint will be known as the "complainant." The Title IX Office will assign appropriate investigators to the case, as deemed by the University, to gather facts for the case. The investigative process will typically consist of separate meetings and interviews with both complainant and respondent, along with any witnesses that either party suggests to be taken into consideration. Throughout the investigation, if it is deemed necessary, the University may subject the respondent to certain interim measures. These are meant to benefit the safety and security of the complainant and can include several actions ranging from rescheduling classes, changing housing, or even a temporary suspension from the University.
The University does not offer mediation or lower level disciplinary procedures for acts of sexual misconduct. Prior to hearings, both complainant and respondent will have access to the investigative file and information. A conduct board will be assembled composed of members selected to hear sexual misconduct cases. Hearings will be directed by the chairperson of the board and will proceed according to the chairperson's discretion, however, both complainant and respondent will, in theory, be granted certain rights throughout the process. Both parties may present their own supporting evidence and witnesses. The parties may also indirectly question one another through the chairperson. Both parties are also subject to questioning from the board. After sufficient evidence has been heard as deemed appropriate by the conduct board, the chairperson will close the hearing and the board will deliberate. Decisions are made using the standard of "a preponderance of the evidence."
In cases of sexual misconduct, students may be accompanied by a support person of their own choosing. Due to the very serious nature of sexual misconduct cases, students will be facing potential consequences that may affect their professional and academic careers, both now and also later in life. For these reasons, students should select an attorney to serve as their support person. An attorney can assist a student with their hearings with specialized knowledge of evidence presentation, cross-examination, and argument. An attorney can also make sure the integrity of the Title IX investigation and disciplinary proceedings is upheld, and that an accused student's rights and interests are protected through any meetings, hearings, and any related matters. In addition, should any adverse consequences result from the reporting of the allegations at Susquehanna University, students can look to their attorney as a legal guide as well.
Appeals at Susquehanna University
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students may make an appeal. Appeals must be submitted within five (5) business days following the receipt of the written decision. Appeals must be on the grounds of a failure to follow due process, new evidence, or an excessive penalty.