Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a private Jesuit school, located in downtown Santa Clara at the foot of San Francisco Bay, is California's oldest operating higher-education institution, established in 1851. The university's website touts its Silicon Valley location as providing students with everything they need to take risks, take charge, and innovate. The school's low student-to-faculty ratio and more than three hundred days of sunshine each year contribute to high retention and graduation rates for the school's 5,571 undergraduates. Engineering and business are popular undergraduate majors at Santa Clara University, which also offers a full slate of other traditional majors through its large College of Arts and Sciences, along with graduate programs in law, business, engineering, psychology, ministry, and theology. First-years and sophomores live in on-campus residential learning centers, while juniors and seniors live in nearby off-campus apartments.

Santa Clara University surely offers an invigorating intellectual and social environment in which to study in a premier innovation and technology center. Yet, the university's social commitments and humane norms do not insulate Santa Clara students from the usual academic and social challenges college and university students must manage. A competitive, socially active, and physically stimulating environment can either aid or obstruct productive studies, depending on many individual factors. Confusion over close and intimate relationships can lead to investigations and charges of Title IX or other sexual misconduct, even at Santa Clara University.

Fortunately, national Title IX attorney Joseph Lento has committed his professional practice to helping students face, defeat, and overcome misconduct allegations. Help is on the way if you face sexual misconduct charges at Santa Clara University. Learn the details here about sexual misconduct proceedings at Santa Clara University. Then retain attorney Joseph Lento, the country's leading Title IX attorney.

Santa Clara University Sexual Misconduct Policies

Like other colleges and universities, Santa Clara University maintains a Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy satisfying its federal Title IX obligations to prevent sex discrimination. Santa Clara has a single policy covering both its Title IX obligations and its interest in preventing broader forms of sexual misconduct beyond Title IX. The university implements its misconduct policy through an Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. Santa Clara titles its current policy as interim, given the policy's recent adoption to meet new Title IX regulations promulgated in 2020. Consider next the specific Title IX sexual misconduct that Santa Clara's policy prohibits.

Title IX Sexual Misconduct at Santa Clara University

Part B of Santa Clara University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy first prohibits the same sexual misconduct that Title IX prohibits. The university must satisfy those Title IX obligations to receive federal funding. Title IX reaches only these three forms of sexual misconduct, each of which Santa Clara's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy also prohibits:

  • sexual violence including forcible sexual assault, non-forcible statutory rape (sex with an underage minor), dating violence (sexual violence with a victim with whom the perpetrator has been in a relationship), domestic violence, and stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment, defined as attempting to trade university benefits or services for unwelcome sexual conduct; and
  • hostile-environment harassment, defined as unwelcome sexual conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

To support these Title IX prohibitions, Santa Clara University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy includes elaborate definitions for such terms as force, coercion, incapacitation, and especially consent. These definitions may expand the prohibitions' reach. For instance, Santa Clara's definition for consent requires each party to affirmatively determine in advance that the other party has clearly, consciously, knowingly, and voluntarily consented to sexual activity.

Santa Clara University Sexual Misconduct

As just indicated above, Santa Clara University, like other colleges and universities, defines sexual misconduct more broadly than Title IX defines it. Part B of the university's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy goes on from its Title IX prohibitions to include these additional forms of non-Title IX sexual misconduct, that the policy generally defines as sexual exploitation taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another:

  • sexual voyeurism watching or letting others watch sex acts without the consent of all involved;
  • photographing or video recording of sexual acts for viewing or distribution without permission;
  • sexual exposure;
  • prostitution and solicitation to prostitution;
  • knowingly infecting another with a sexual disease;
  • blackmail using sexual descriptions or images to gain advantage or harm another;
  • adopting a false identity for sexual advantage; and
  • child pornography.

Broader definitions for consent, gender-based violence, and protected statuses within Santa Clara University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy further expand the reach of the above non-Title IX sexual misconduct categories, increasing the risk of vague, ambiguous, and overreaching sexual misconduct charges. The university's policy also extends the prohibitions to include online harassment.

Santa Clara University's Sexual Misconduct Procedures

Santa Clara University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy also states the procedures the university commits to follow to resolve sexual misconduct complaints and charges. Unlike many colleges and universities, Santa Clara University uses the same procedures to address both Title IX sexual misconduct allegations and non-Title IX sexual misconduct allegations. Many other colleges and universities relax their procedures below the federal Title IX requirements for non-Title IX sexual-misconduct proceedings.

Santa Clara's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy directs complaints of sexual misconduct to the university's Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Coordinator. The Director assists the complainant in preparing an accurate complaint. The Director also confirms with the complainant or reporting party whether support is a sufficient response or if instead, the matter should proceed to either informal or formal resolution. The accused student must also agree if the university is to proceed to informal resolution. The accused student retains the right to a formal proceeding.

Informal Resolution. Informal resolutions under Santa Clara University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy can involve the Director providing supportive measures to the alleged victim, the accused student accepting responsibility, and any other negotiated resolution, with the help of a mediator or other professional skilled in restorative practices. The Director may also pursue alternative resolutions such as counseling or training. Informal resolution depends on the parties agreeing to the outcome.

Formal Resolution. Complaints that do not resolve informally, either because the complainant or accused student object or the Director so determines, proceed through Santa Clara's formal resolution process. The Director appoints a university investigator whose investigation should end within thirty to sixty days. The investigator interviews both the complainant, the accused student, and other witnesses. The investigator prepares a draft report to share with both sides for their comment and correction. The investigator's final report may cause the parties to agree to informal resolution. If not, the charge proceeds to formal hearing.

The Director appoints a three-member Equity Hearing Panel from a pool of qualified candidates who are Santa Clara faculty and staff members. The parties may agree to allow the Hearing Panel to decide the matter administratively. Otherwise, the Hearing Panel holds a live hearing. At the hearing, the investigator first presents the report. Witnesses then testify under cross-examination. The Hearing Panel may not consider the statement of any witness who refuses to testify. The accused student may retain an attorney advisor to conduct the questioning and cross-examination. The Hearing Panel then deliberates to a majority written decision under the “preponderance of the evidence” proof standard. The university's procedures permit losing parties to appeal to a three-member Appeal Panel drawn from the university candidate pool.

Santa Clara University Sexual Misconduct Sanctions

Santa Clara University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy provides that the university can sanction students committing sexual misconduct with any of the following: warning, required training or education, probation, restrictions on access to programs or facilities, suspension, expulsion, or any other appropriate sanctions. Those other unnamed sanctions may include such things as community service for the disciplined student, interventions, or the student's referral for evaluation and services. Santa Clara's policy provides that a student who withdraws permanently from the university during a pending proceeding may not return.

Retain a Premier Title IX Defense Attorney

You can see the value, indeed the necessity, of retaining the nation's premier academic attorney, from the broad reach of the above prohibitions, the ambiguity of their definitions, and the complexity of the above procedures. Don't face sexual misconduct charges at Santa Clara University alone. You have too much at stake in your education. Instead, retain national Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento whose long and impressive record of success helping hundreds of students nationwide proves his skillfulness to help you successfully defend sexual misconduct charges. Trust attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm with protecting your education, career, and reputation against Santa Clara University sexual misconduct charges. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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