The University of Pennsylvania, informally known as "Penn" or "University of Penn," holds a separate policy for disciplinary action against students who violate the University's Title IX policies. The University investigates all matters of Sexual Misconduct and other Title IX Policy Violations through the Office of the Sexual Violence Investigative Officer. The Officer is responsible for investigating and ensuring that proper action is taken during instances of alleged sexual misconduct.
The Disciplinary Process at the University of Pennsylvania
When a student files a complaint of sexual misconduct, the University will assign an investigative officer to the case. The student who initiates the complaint will be known as the complainant, while the subject of the complaint will be known as the respondent. The University will keep the complainant's identity confidential if the complainant desires. The University will also impose interim measures as necessary such as a "no contact order" to protect the complainant; interim suspensions will also be imposed in certain instances.
Title IX Investigation
The investigation phase will begin after a complaint is filed. The investigative officer assigned to the case will begin the investigation by speaking with both the complainant and respondent. Next, any relevant witnesses will be contacted and interviewed. An investigative report will be formed based upon the findings. The report will be finalized, and a decision will be made by a team of investigators to make a determination of responsibility for a violation. Decisions will be made using the standard of "a preponderance of evidence." The decision and any relevant sanctions are then forwarded to the parties involved, and they may choose to agree to the decision or contest it. If the matter cannot be resolved, it will move forward to a hearing.
Title IX Hearing
Matters that proceed to the level of a hearing will be directed to a Hearing Panel composed of University staff dedicated to handling matters of sexual misconduct. The Hearing Panel will start the process by conducting separate interviews with each party involved, starting with the investigative officer that handled the case. Complainant and respondent will follow and will be able to present evidence and argument to support their own respective cases. Interviews are conducted with each party, one at a time, with each party only interacting with the Hearing Panel. After all, information has been heard, and all relevant parties have been interviewed, the Hearing Panel will deliberate and make a decision the complainant's responsibility and any necessary sanctions to assign.
Students are entitled to the presence of an advisor throughout the hearing process. This is of utmost importance. An attorney involved at the start can be incredibly beneficial for advising and guiding students through the University's process. Attorneys have valuable insight into courtroom proceedings and methods of evidence and argument that can make a palpable difference at a University hearing. Students with this knowledge will have an upper hand at their hearings and may be able to secure a favorable outcome. An attorney will also be able to protect an accused student's interests regarding any related potential adverse consequences that can result from the allegations made in the University setting.
Appeals at the University of Pennsylvania
In the event of an unfavorable decision from the University, students have an opportunity to make an appeal. The appeal must be submitted within 10 business days of the outcome. There are no specific grounds for appeal, however, it must clearly state what is in dispute: the sanctions, the judgment, or both.