Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, established in 1907, is a historic public land-grant university in Honolulu, as the flagship and headquarters of the University of Hawai'i system. While the university offers degree programs in engineering, public health, and other traditional fields, the university also advertises studies in tropical agriculture, tropical medicine, oceanography, volcanology, and other fields of special interest to its island home.

The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa reports an enrollment of about 17,500 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The university touts a campus life offering exciting opportunities to establish lifelong friendships and memories you'll never forget, built around hundreds of extracurricular activities. The university has abundant on-campus conference housing.

While the university's setting near downtown Honolulu and Waikiki beach is idyllic, that setting does not prevent conflict within intimate relationships, leading to sexual-misconduct charges. Like all other federally funded institutions, the University of Hawai'i maintains an Interim Executive Policy on Title IX Sexual Harassment satisfying Title IX requirements while also prohibiting other sexual misconduct in its Student Conduct Code. The university substantially amended its Title IX policy, applicable to its Mānoa and other campuses, effective August 13, 2020, coincident with the effective date of new federal Title IX regulations.

If you or someone you know faces sexual-misconduct charges at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, then consider here how expert representation by Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm can successfully defend against the university's false and exaggerated allegations. Sexual-misconduct violations can seriously affect your education, career, and reputation. Read here to understand why to retain the expert representation of Joseph D. Lento at the Lento Law Firm to defend sexual-misconduct allegations at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.

University of Hawai'i Title IX Misconduct

Higher-education institutions receiving federal funds, like the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, must enforce Title IX's prohibition against sex discrimination. An Obama Administration Dear Colleague Letter expanded Title IX's prohibited forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual behaviors that unfortunately occur with some frequency at colleges and universities. The Obama Administration guidance also added protections for the accuser that some court decisions found to violate the accused's constitutional rights.

The next administration's Department of Education rescinded the expansive Dear Colleague Letter, tightening again Title IX's sexual-misconduct definition while adding protections for both accuser and accused. Read additional details here about those recent Title IX interpretive changes. The current Title IX interpretation reaches only these three forms of sexual misconduct, each of which the University of Hawai'i Title IX policy also prohibits:

  • sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment (attempting to trade favors for sex); or
  • unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

University of Hawai'i Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct

Colleges and universities may, if they wish, define sexual misconduct more broadly than Title IX defines it. The University of Hawai'i Student Conduct Code, apart from its Title policy, adds these forms of non-Title IX misconduct that could implicate additional sexual misbehaviors: any conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, bullying, coercion, or stalking, and conduct that is disorderly, lewd, or indecent.

These prohibitions beyond Title IX's scope may increase the risk of false or unfair sexual-misconduct charges at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. In a disputed sexual-misconduct case, depending on the charged sexual misconduct, these definitions can create significant questions of interpretation that the knowledge, skill, and experience of expert counsel Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can advocate in defense of the accused student.

University of Hawai'i Complaint Procedures

The procedures that a college or university uses to decide sexual-misconduct charges can be just as important as the institution's definitions of sexual misconduct when determining disputed allegations. Procedures influence the reliability and fairness of the outcomes. Consider how academic attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm can assist a student accused of sexual misconduct in following the University of Hawai 'i sexual-misconduct procedures.

Title IX Procedures. A college or university receiving a complaint of Title IX sexual misconduct must follow federal Title IX regulations to determine, fairly to all involved, whether the misconduct occurred. Significantly, 2020 changes to those federal Title IX procedures guarantee the accused a hearing at which the accused has the right to attend and cross-examine the accuser and other witnesses to expose false allegations. They also raise the institution's proof burden to a higher clear-and-convincing-evidence standard. The University of Hawai'i must comply with those Title IX regulations in its own Title IX policy and the university's Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process, described as follows.

Reports of Title IX misconduct at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa go to the university's Title IX coordinator, who may, after a preliminary investigation, attempt an informal resolution in appropriate cases. If a threshold review confirms a potential Title IX violation not appropriate for informal resolution, the university notifies the accused of the charge, and the coordinator appoints an investigator. The investigator shares all evidence with the accuser and accused after interviewing the accuser, accused, and any other witnesses. The investigator prepares an investigative report only after permitting the accused student to comment on the evidence. The Title IX coordinator may dismiss the complaint if the report warrants dismissal.

If the charges stand after investigation, then the matter moves forward to a single Decision Maker or three-member panel to conduct a hearing at which witnesses must testify. The accused student may retain an attorney advisor to counsel the student at the hearing and cross-examine witnesses. The Decision Maker or panel may not consider the statement of any witness who fails to testify subject to cross-examination. A student found to have committed Title IX sexual misconduct may appeal the decision.

Because the University of Hawai'i Title IX procedure preserves an accused student's Title IX rights, aggressive representation from the Lento Law Firm can invoke and enforce those rights for the best outcome. Academic attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento can help the accused student organize and present evidence, review and comment on proposed findings, cross-examine adverse witnesses, and review and appeal adverse findings. These actions are exactly where a skilled and experienced lawyer from the Lento Law Firm can change the outcome of sexual-misconduct charges.

Non-Title IX Procedures. The University of Hawai'i Student Conduct Code for non-Title IX sexual-misconduct and other misconduct charges authorizes a Student Conduct Administrator to determine the composition of a Student Conduct Board and Appellate Board to hear the matter. A Senior Student Affairs Officer develops policies to administer the student conduct system and procedural rules for the conduct of Student Conduct Board Hearings. Student Conduct Board decisions are final unless the accused student appeals an adverse finding. Rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal cases do not apply at Student Conduct Board hearings.

The University of Hawai'i augments its brief Student Conduct Code statement with a specific set of Student Conduct Code procedures. Reports of non-Title IX sexual misconduct or other code violations go to the Student Conduct Administrator, who investigates or chooses a designee to do so. The accused student may retain an attorney advisor but must present the student's own information. The Student Conduct Administrator must notify and interview the accused student but may then decide based on the investigation, without the explicit requirement for hearing witness testimony.

While limiting the role of legal counsel, the University of Hawai'i non-Title IX Student Conduct Code still provides opportunities for a skilled and experienced lawyer from the Lento Law Firm to defend false and exaggerated charges. Joseph D. Lento can evaluate and prepare corrective critiques of biased statements, statements without a factual foundation, and other evidence, help draft comments submitted to the investigator and Student Conduct Board, help identify witnesses for the investigator's interview, and evaluate and appeal adverse findings.

University of Hawai'i Sexual-Misconduct Sanctions

Like other institutions, the University of Hawai'i takes sexual misconduct seriously, providing in its Title IX policy and Title IX procedures for potentially severe sanctions including warning, required counsel or remedial education, disciplinary probation, suspension, suspension with conditions, the withholding or revocation of a degree, expulsion, and censure. The University of Hawai'i Student Conduct Code for non-Title IX sexual misconduct and other misconduct simply states that the university's Student Conduct Administrator may impose any educational penalty commensurate with the misconduct, up to expulsion. The university's separate Student Conduct Code procedures list these potential sanctions:

  • written reprimand;
  • probation;
  • loss of privileges;
  • restitution;
  • no-contact order;
  • interim suspension;
  • suspension;
  • dismissal;
  • withholding of degree; and
  • degree revocation.

Retain Skilled and Experienced Representation

A sexual-misconduct charge at the University of Hawai'i raises high stakes, as is true at other colleges and universities. With so much on the line, do not relinquish your legal rights. Instead, retain skilled and experienced legal counsel Joseph D. Lento to defend and defeat false and exaggerated charges under the above procedures. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help an accused student expose the weaknesses in a sexual-misconduct charge to achieve the best possible outcome.

An expert attorney advisor is your greatest resource to defend a college or university sexual-misconduct allegation that might otherwise ruin an education, career, and reputation. College and university students and employees nationwide retain Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to represent them in Title IX and sexual misconduct disciplinary matters. Mr. Lento has the knowledge and expertise to help you through a disciplinary proceeding at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, for the best outcome. 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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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