At Syracuse University they created an Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion & Resolution Services (EOIRS), which has Title IX compliance as one of their primary responsibilities. This office defines their mission as being to promote “inclusion, access, and opportunity” among the student body as well as faculty and staff. The administration prides itself on having a community where individuals are always treated with respect and safety is a top priority. The EORIS is responsible for investigating any complaints that violate Title IX provision. These include actions such as sexual harassment, assault, and forms of gender-based discrimination. This investigative process is led by the Equal Opportunity and Title IX investigator and subject to their written procedures regarding conduct.
What Schools are Subject to Title IX?
All public school districts are subject to Title IX requirements to maintain their eligibility for critical federal funding. This also applies to public colleges and universities and the majority of private institutions. The lone exceptions apply to private schools that do not rely on any federal education funds. Certain religious institutions also may have some exemptions regarding aspects of Title IX. These apply to schools that are owned by religious organizations or entities; however, they are not common.
Protective Measures for Reporting Individuals
The University recognizes that often victims of sexual-based offenses are hesitant to report incidents. Syracuse has implemented sufficient measures to protect those who report such alleged actions. These interim measures are available immediately and one commonly employed tool includes putting a “no-contact” order in place that prohibits adverse parties from communicating.
After a Complaint is Filed
Upon receiving a complaint, the administration will begin interviewing the parties and witnesses. This evidence is compiled and presented to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities (OSRR).
In drafting their provisions, the University recognized that often such potential violations of conduct occur when individuals are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Those who were intoxicated at the time of an incident may be hesitant to report the actions based on their violating the school's drug and alcohol policies. The provisions state that anyone coming forward in good faith to report a violation is immune from being in violation of student rules of conduct.
The guidelines require that affirmative consent be established when parties engage in sexual activity. This means that parties have given consent or have knowingly and willingly chosen to engage in sexual action. Consent may be demonstrated in words or actions. The rule applies regardless of sex, gender, or orientation. Consent may be withdrawn at any time amid a sexual encounter. Consent is never derived through intimidation, physical force, or other means of coercion.
Right to an Advisor
Throughout the disciplinary process, parties may have an advisor. This individual is to serve largely in a supportive role. They are not permitted to speak on behalf of the party or question witnesses. The advisor will accompany the party to meetings or hearings. A party may choose an attorney or another party who is not related to the disciplinary matter.
Informal Option for Resolution
The University's Title IX Coordinator has the option of coordinating a process of informal resolution. This may be achieved with assistance from members of the case management team. Informal resolutions may not be necessary when it is determined that insufficient evidence exists against the respondent. An informal resolution involves the accused party's acknowledgement of the violation and wiliness to accept reasonable sanctions. Informal measures may include a form of mediation in reaching a solution. This is not appropriate for serious violations such as sexual assault or other violent actions.
The complainant must satisfy a burden of proof using a preponderance of the evidence standard. This is informally referred to as a “more likely than not” standard. This is a lesser standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden used in criminal matters.
Once the facts and evidence surrounding the allegations are gathered by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, a hearing will be schedule within 10 business days. The matter is heard by the University Conduct Board—a three-member panel. Both the complainant and respondent are able to speak at the hearing; however, they do not directly question one another.
Considerations for Sanctioning
The Board uses various considerations when determining sanctions for violators. They may review written statements from the parties and prior incidents of misconduct. Often the Board bases the decision on what is best for the overall safety of the campus community.
Sanctions That May Be Imposed
- That community service work be performed
- Monetary restitution
- A period of disciplinary probation
Sanctions imposed by the board for violations are effective immediately unless a written intention to appeal is received. An appeal may be permitted if new information becomes available that could alter the outcome. An appeal may be made if a party believes that the administration did not adhere to written guidelines. The sanctions imposed may be appealed when they are believed to be excessive. The University Appeals Board is responsible for appeals and may order the matter to be remanded.
Students who violate codes of conduct will have a notation added to their transcripts. These records are maintained for a seven-year period, or indefinitely if the individual was suspended or expelled.
Syracuse Title IX Coordinator Contact
Sheila R. Johnson-Willis
Associate Vice President and Title IX officer
900 S. Crouse Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13244
Lawyer Defends New York College Students in Title IX Actions
Those facing allegations of violating provisions associated with Title IX guidelines may potentially have their academic plan and goals adversely impacted. Accusations such as those pertaining to sexual assault, gender-based harassment, or stalking are generally considered as grounds for suspension or even dismissal from the institution. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the disciplinary process involved and will protect your best interests and rights to due process. You may contact the office for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.