Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct at Virginia Polytechnic University

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, is a public land-grant research university with its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The university's motto, “Ut Prosim - That I May Serve,” reflects its commitment to developing knowledge through experience, discover lasting solutions, and partner to serve communities. To that end, the school boasts 150 undergraduate majors and a similar breadth of graduate programs. Popular Virginia Tech majors include not just engineering, a natural for a technical university, but also biological and biomedical sciences, consumer sciences, social sciences, and business management and marketing.

Virginia Tech undergraduate enrollment hovers around 30,000 students. Undergraduate campus life at Virginia Tech thrives in forty-nine traditional and non-traditional residence halls. Despite their high ambitions, Virginia Tech students, like students at other colleges and universities, can form relationships and engage in intimate conduct that in some instances results in an allegation of sexual misconduct. Expert help to face and defeat false, exaggerated, and unfair sexual-misconduct allegations is available. National Title IX attorney Joseph Lento has for many years devoted his nationwide law practice to helping students overcome sexual-misconduct allegations. Attorney Lento can help you or someone you know at Virginia Tech. Read here about Virginia Tech's sexual-misconduct policies and procedures. Then retain Title IX attorney Joseph Lento.

Virginia Tech Sexual-Misconduct Violations

Virginia Tech maintains both a Policy 1026 on Title IX Sexual Harassment and a separate Policy 1025 on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Assault relating to its Student Code of Conduct and reaching non-Title IX sexual misconduct. Virginia Tech is, in that respect, like many other colleges and universities that meet their Title IX obligations to prevent sex discrimination but also extend their commitment to cover other acts not strictly within Title IX protections.

Title IX Sexual Misconduct. Virginia Tech adopted its new Policy 1026 on Title IX Sexual Harassment in 2020 to satisfy new Title IX regulations. Virginia Tech's Title IX policy prohibits these three forms of sexual misconduct, as Title IX requires for the university to receive its substantial federal funding:

  • sexual violence in the form of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment, meaning to condition university benefits or services on unwelcome sexual conduct; and
  • hostile-environment harassment, meaning unwelcome sexual conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access based on sex.

Virginia Tech's Title IX policy states lengthy definitions of each of the above three forms of Title IX sexual misconduct and the core concept of consent. Under those definitions, an accused student can claim consent to sexual activity only when the complainant made that consent knowingly, voluntarily, affirmatively by word or action, and in clear form. The definition further rules out consent from prior acts or relationship, implied consent from engaging in a different sexual act, or consent implied or assumed while the victim was incapacitated, disabled, or underage.

Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct. Virginia Tech's separate Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Assault extends protections beyond Title IX, to these other non-Title IX forms of sexual misconduct:

  • sexual harassment defined as conduct based on sex that unreasonably interferes with academic performance, limits university activities, or creates a learning environment that a reasonable person would find hostile, threatening, or intimidating;
  • sexual exploitation defined as acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another's sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose; and
  • sexual violence defined as sexual acts against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to drugs, alcohol, or intellectual or other disability, including sexual coercion and fondling.

Virginia Tech's Policy on Harassment, Discrimination and Sexual Assault includes some forms of sexual misconduct, such as sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, that the university's Title IX policy also prohibits. The university would decide those dual forms under its Title IX procedures, as federal regulations require. Virginia Tech's Student Code of Conduct includes the same prohibitions of both Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct. The university resolves non-Title IX sexual-misconduct charges under its Student Code of Conduct procedures.

Virginia Tech Sexual-Misconduct Procedures

Title IX Procedures. Virginia Tech's Title IX policy states the university's procedures for addressing complaints of Title IX sexual misconduct. Those procedures meet the requirements of Title IX's current regulations, which offer protections to both accuser and accused. The procedures direct sexual-misconduct complaints to the university's Title IX Coordinator. The procedures indicate that an investigation will follow, the results of which the Title IX Coordinator must share with the accused student. The Title IX Coordinator refers investigation reports that indicate a Title IX violation to the Office of Student Conduct to commence a Title IX hearing.

Consistent with federal regulations, university hearing officers must permit the student's attorney advisor to question and cross-examine witnesses. The hearing officers may consider only information from testifying witnesses. The hearing officers may not consider statements from non-testifying witnesses. The hearing officers must permit the accused student to present any witnesses having relevant information. The hearing officers deliberate to a decision on the preponderance of the evidence. The losing side may appeal to an appellate officer who may uphold, reverse, vacate, or send back the decision for further consideration, or increase or decrease the sanction.

Non-Title IX Procedures. Virginia Tech's procedures for resolving non-Title IX sexual-misconduct charges are in its Student Code of Conduct. Those procedures direct non-Title IX sexual-misconduct complaints to the Director of the Office of Student Conduct. The Director reviews the referral, including meeting with the accused student if appropriate. The Director may also call for a further investigation. The Director may then dismiss the matter, impose an agreed-on resolution, or send the matter to a formal hearing.

Two university hearing officers hear and decide non-Title IX sexual-misconduct charges on the preponderance of the evidence. The hearing procedures guarantee the accused student the right to present, question, and cross-examine witnesses. The procedures do not address the student's right, if any, to have an attorney-advisor present to cross-examine witnesses and assist or advise the student. Many colleges and universities guarantee that right only when required to do so for Title IX sexual-misconduct charges. The losing side may appeal to an appellate officer.

Virginia Tech Sexual-Misconduct Sanctions

Virginia Tech's Title IX policy permits the hearing officers or appellate officer to impose these sanctions: warning, probation, deferred suspension, suspension, deferred dismissal, dismissal, denial of privileges, or educational, community, or wellness activities. Sanction criteria include the type and nature of the violation, including mitigating and aggravating factors, and the student's prior disciplinary record. Virginia Tech's Student Code of Conduct, applicable to non-Title IX sexual misconduct, includes each of the same potential sanctions but adds restitution to the list.

An Expert Defense Is Available at Virginia Tech

You do not have to face sexual-misconduct charges alone at Virginia Tech. Nor do you have to accept a non-attorney advisor associated with the institution. You can have national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento in your corner to assist and defend you against potentially false, exaggerated, and unfair sexual-misconduct charges at Virginia Tech. Attorney Lento helps hundreds of students nationwide defend and defeat sexual-misconduct and other misconduct allegations. Attorney Lento's successful, satisfied, and relieved clients encourage you to trust attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm to help you. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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