If you face sexual misconduct allegations at Arizona State University, at Skysong, or any other Arizona campus, you will likely feel disorientated and distressed. Colleges increasingly feel pressure to prove they are tough on alleged sexual misconduct and faced with an unfamiliar and often-changing disciplinary process, and it can feel like the odds are stacked against you. Though it may feel overwhelming, you still have rights, and the school must give you your due process. It is, however, vital that you thoroughly understand your school's policies and secure good advice. Only then can you give yourself the best possible defense.
Arizona Colleges and Title IX
Title IX is the civil rights law protecting students from sexual discrimination in schools and colleges in Arizona and the United States.
Sexual discrimination includes harassment that is so “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University's education program or activity.”
The Department of Education issues guidance on how to implement Title IX. Though this guidance is subject to change, schools must implement the up-to-date guidance or lose federal funding.
The Department of Education issued significant changes to Title IX guidance under former Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos. Schools and colleges had until August 2020 to implement this new guidance. Arizona colleges rewrote their sexual misconduct policies to incorporate this new guidance. The Department of Education guidance bolstered protections for the accused, ensuring them the right to a live hearing and the opportunity for their advisor to cross-examine their accuser and any witnesses.
Arizona State University Student Code of Conduct
The Student Code of Conduct sets out the standards of conduct expected of Arizona State students. Students who violate the code of conduct face disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. It is not just Title IX that prohibits sexual harassment on campus; Arizona State's Student Code of Conduct identifies a broader span of sexual misconduct, covering many more offenses.
Prohibited conduct includes “unwanted or non-consensual sexual conduct,” including but not limited to indecent exposure, sexual exploitation or voyeurism, or non-consensual photographing or recording someone else while undressed or engaged in sexual activity.
You may have an advisor accompany you throughout the process.
The school has more discretion to investigate and discipline suspected violations of its internal code of conduct. However, the school is still accountable for its own rules. Though you will not have the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses, you are entitled to some due process. The consequences of a student code of conduct violation can be every bit as severe as a Title IX claim.
The University of Arizona Title IX Policy
Arizona State University's Title IX Policy protects students from sexual harassment that is so “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University's education program or activity.”
The incident must have taken place in the United States and within a university program or activity to be under the jurisdiction of Title IX.
University employees have a strict duty to report suspected offenses, and the school must use a specific grievance process for Title IX, which is compliant with federal guidelines.
If the school suspects you of Title IX prohibited conduct and separately suspects you of violating the student code in an unrelated incident, the school may launch two parallel disciplinary processes against you.
The Title IX Office processes the allegations of Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Prohibited Conduct, and the Office of Student Conduct will process the potential violations of the Code of Student Conduct.
Title IX Grievance Process at Arizona State University
Arizona State University revised its grievance process in the light of federal guidelines that came in in 2020 and implemented an interim grievance process. This process is used exclusively to resolve formal complaints of Title IX sexual harassment. Any other allegations of misconduct prompt the grievance process prompts the Student Code of Conduct Procedures.
Your school could decide to dismiss your case from their initial assessment or at the investigation or hearing stage. If your case proceeds all the way, the formal Title IX process involves the following stages:
- Initial assessment
- Notice of investigation
If your case goes to a hearing, the hearing officer must permit your advisor to ask the other party and witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including questions that may challenge their credibility.
If you have an unfavorable outcome or receive unfair or disproportionate sanctions, you have an opportunity to appeal the decision. You seek advice and act within a matter of days so you don't lose your chance to appeal.
There are several grounds for appeal for sexual misconduct findings:
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- Excessive severity of the sanction
- New evidence emerging
- Conflict of interest or bias
- The decision is not reasonably justified by the evidence or is contrary to law
- The Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or hearing officer had a conflict of interest or bias
Penalties of Sexual Misconduct at Arizona State University
Disciplinary sanctions at Arizona State University include:
- Degree Revocation
- Administrative hold
- Restricted access to university property
- Organizational sanctions
- Interim action
- Notation on transcript
If you are expelled from Arizona State University, on the Skysong campus or otherwise, you will also be barred from Northern Arizona University, the University of Arizona, or any other university campus or division governed by the board.
In reality, the consequences for you can begin as soon as the school begins its investigation. Before any determination, an investigator will typically recommend temporary actions, including academic adjustments, room assignment changes, no-contact orders, and even interim suspensions.
Even when faced with lesser penalties, the reputational damage of sexual misconduct allegations can have far-reaching and damaging consequences for your future. Therefore you should take even minor allegations of misconduct against you very seriously. You can be sure that your school will.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento: Experienced College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
When it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct on campus, the stakes couldn't be higher. Unfounded allegations of sexual misconduct can put your career and future at risk. Between pressure from campus culture, the media, and even sponsors, colleges feel more pressure than ever to show they have a zero-tolerance sexual misconduct policy. However, a knowledgeable advisor can protect your right to due process and keep your school accountable to its own rules. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students from across the country in their Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. Waste no time in protecting yourself from damaging allegations. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.