Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct at Western Governors University

Western Governors University is an accredited nonprofit school offering online, competency-based instruction toward undergraduate and graduate degrees in the four in-demand fields of business, teaching, information technology, and health and nursing. Its headquarters are in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. Students progress at their own rate in a highly individualized program. Western Governors University's mission is to improve the quality of education, expand access, and deliver outcomes. It enrolls nearly 100,000 full-time online students.

Even though Western Governors University offers an online program, its students can still form relationships and engage in intimate conduct that could result in sexual misconduct allegations violating the university's policy. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento offers expert help to face and defeat false, exaggerated, and unfair sexual misconduct allegations. Attorney Joseph Lento devotes his nationwide law practice to helping college and university students face and defeat misconduct allegations. Read here about Western Governors University's sexual misconduct policies and procedures before retaining Title IX attorney Joseph Lento.

Western Governors University Sexual Misconduct Violations

Western Governors University maintains an Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination Policy that, like the policies of many other colleges and universities, prohibits both Title IX sexual misconduct and non-Title IX sexual misconduct. The university revised its policy in 2020 to satisfy new Title IX regulations. The university's revised policy expressly prohibits these forms of Title IX sexual misconduct, as federal law requires for the university to receive its substantial federal funding:

  • sexual violence including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment that conditions university benefits or services on unwelcome sexual conduct; and
  • hostile-environment harassment in the form of severe, pervasive, and
  • objectively offensive unwelcome sexual conduct denying equal access based on sex.

Western Governors University's policy extends its prohibitions beyond the above Title IX forms of sexual misconduct, to these other non-Title IX forms of sexual misconduct, under the heading of sexual exploitation:

  • sexual voyeurism such as observing or allowing others to observe a person undressing, using the bathroom, or engaging in sexual acts without consent;
  • invasion of sexual privacy;
  • taking pictures, video, or audio recording of another in a sexual act without consent;
  • revenge pornography;
  • prostituting another person;
  • knowingly infecting another sexually transmitted disease without consent;
  • causing or attempting incapacitation of another to compromise consent to sexual activity;
  • misappropriating another's identity for dating or sexual connections;
  • forcing acts against another's will by threatening to share depictions of the other's nudity or sexual activity;
  • knowingly soliciting a minor for sexual activity;
  • engaging in sex trafficking;
  • creating, possessing, or disseminating child pornography.

Western Governor University's policy adds definitions of force, coercion, consent, and incapacitation. Western Governors University's policy also expressly extends its prohibitions to online and cyber manifestations of sexual misconduct, specifically listing these forms of online sexual misconduct:

  • feeding anonymous gossip sites,
  • sharing inappropriate content via Snaps or other social media,
  • unwelcome sexting,
  • revenge porn,
  • breaches of privacy,
  • cyber-bullying,
  • cyber-stalking,
  • cyber-harassment, and
  • otherwise using the ease of transmission or anonymity of the Internet or
  • other technology to harm another member of the university community.

Western Governors University Sexual Misconduct Procedures

Title IX Procedures. Western Governors University maintains a Title IX Grievance Process applying to the resolution only of Title IX sexual misconduct charges. The university's Title IX procedures meet new 2020 requirements of Title IX regulations, offering protections to both accuser and accused. Complaints go to the university's Title IX Coordinator. The Coordinator makes a preliminary assessment to ensure the complaint alleges Title IX misconduct. The Coordinator must dismiss or refer the complaint if it fails to allege acts within Title IX's reach.

Western Governors University's Title IX Grievance Process permits the parties to agree to informal resolution with the Title IX Coordinator's agreement and assistance. Otherwise, the matter proceeds to formal resolution, which begins with referral to two university investigators. After giving investigation notice to both sides, the investigators gather evidence and conduct interviews, including interviews of the accuser and accused student. When the investigators conclude their investigation, they must share the case file with both sides for additions, comments, or corrections. The investigators also prepare and share an investigative report, to which either side may submit a response.

The Title IX Grievance Process then provides for a hearing before a three-member panel. Either side may call, question, and cross examine witnesses, retaining and employing an attorney advisor to do so. Witnesses must attend and testify under cross examination for the panel members to consider their information. At the hearing's conclusion, the panel members deliberate in deciding whether misconduct occurred under the preponderance of the evidence. If the panel so finds, then a Sanctions Officer determines the sanction. The Title IX Grievance Process permits an appeal by the losing side to a three-member Appeal Panel.

Non-Title IX Procedures. Western Governors University's Civil Rights and Nondiscrimination Grievance Process for resolving non-Title IX sexual misconduct charges authorizes the Title IX Coordinator to assess the complaint to confirm that it does not allege Title IX sexual misconduct and instead alleges non-Title IX sexual misconduct subject to these procedures. The Coordinator then offers either informal resolution or administrative resolution, depending on the alleged offense's seriousness, the Coordinator's judgment, and the parties' preference. Informal resolution typically involves the accused student's acceptance of responsibility or ano