The entire CUNY community including students, faculty, and staff, are entitled to be free from sexually-based harassment and discrimination. The College has continued to increase overall awareness regarding problems such as domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Guidelines for students have been established that clearly outline the disciplinary process involved when Title IX provisions are violated. In addition, an on-campus team of public safety staff and counselors have continued to educate faculty and staff regarding these concerns. The administration has also put together a series of informational videos as part of their “Enough is Enough: Combating Sexual Misconduct” program.
Title IX Provisions and Right to Free Speech
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has explained that their intentions are not to restrict free speech that is protected under the First Amendment. Some have expressed concerns that they should not be prohibited from speaking about subjects that reflect gender bias or otherwise expresses sexually-based opinions. The OCR seeks to ensure that educational settings do not become hostile environments. They explain further that derogatory opinions based on gender are clearly actions that are contrary to the goal of maintaining an environment free from discrimination. Schools generally encourage debate and the expression of ideals and beliefs; however, these types of speech easily cross into forms of abuse.
Student Bill of Rights: The City University of New York
The CUNY administration created a Student Bill of Rights that addresses matters such as domestic partner violence, sexually-based abuse, and other critical issues. Students have a right to and are encouraged to contact the local authorities when they have been a victim of crime. The administration will conduct all disciplinary matters in an impartial manner. Those in need have access to counseling and medical care. If you report a potential Title IX violation you have a right to not face forms of retaliation. All those involved in campus disciplinary actions have a right to have a personal advisor and any rulings may be appealed.
Commitment to Confidentiality
The CUNY administration has great respect for the privacy of those throughout the campus community. Those individuals who report incidents, such as those of sexual misconduct, should be aware that all College officials will strive to maintain their right to confidentiality. The same applies to those who use our campus services including medical care, mental health care, and pastoral counseling.
Amnesty for Drug and Alcohol Use
The CUNY community understands that often actions of sexual violence occur at a time when one or more parties involved are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The administration does not want to discourage students from reporting any incident of potential sexual misconduct. Any student who reports such incidents will not be subject to potential disciplinary actions for violating the campus drug or alcohol policies in these situations.
The Title IX Coordinator strives to follow up on any complaints received promptly. The accused party will be notified in writing about the nature of the allegations. Designated staff will proceed to gather relevant evidence and information from witnesses.
Role of the Advisor
Those parties involved in these disciplinary processes are able to select an advisor that will provide support and assistance. This individual may accompany the parties to related meeting or hearings. During hearings, the advisor is not to speak on behalf of the party or to address the members of the hearing directly. Often students will have an attorney serve in this key advisory role.
Basic Hearing Rules
Based on the sensitive nature of these matters, all hearings are closed. If an accused party acknowledges responsibility for the allegations, they are afforded a chance to present their “side of the story” and may have some input regarding potentially appropriate sanctions. When the respondent denies the allegations, the hearing coordinators will introduce the relevant facts and testimony. The opposing parties are also able to present additional facts and information during this process. The burden of proof used in these matters is by the preponderance of the evidence standard. The hearing panel is ultimately responsible for considering the evidence and making a ruling
Following a decision by a hearing panel, sanctions or penalties may be imposed that they deem as being appropriate. Serious offenses often result in either suspension or expulsion. When suspension or expulsion is imposed, a record of the disciplinary actions is documented on the student's transcripts.
If a party wishes to appeal a decision it must be done in writing within a period of 15 days. The only acceptable grounds for an appeal are as follows:
- There is evidence to suggest that written policies or procedure were not properly adhered to
- New evidence has emerged that could alter the outcome
- The sanctions imposed are believed to be excessive based on the violation(s)
City College of New York Title IX Coordinator Contact
Title IX Coordinator
Michele Baptiste, Esq.
Importance of Retaining Attorney Representation
Students are reminded not to underestimate the potential consequences that may be imposed for conduct violations. Students and their families may be devoting significant resources such as time and money to their academic plans. When serious sanctions are imposed, such as suspension and expulsion from the institution, these plans are likely to be impacted. Retaining legal counsel in the advisory role is likely to be beneficial. Your attorney may assist you will crafting effective statements and have you prepared to confidently respond to questions. In addition, your attorney may potentially engage in negotiations that could result in a mutually acceptable solution.
Defense Lawyer Represents Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct at City College of New York
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the knowledge and experience that can only be obtained from years of practicing within the realm of student disciplinary defense. Those in New York colleges and universities that are facing Title IX disciplinary matters, such as sexual misconduct, should consult with an attorney soon after being made aware of allegations. We encourage you to contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.