Title IX of the Education Amendments is a federal law that prohibits sexual misconduct in federally funded colleges and universities. Being accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, or any other form of sexual misconduct at Vassar College is a Title IX violation that your school must resolve. If you are found “responsible” for this conduct, you could be exposed to pretty serious repercussions that could jeopardize your plans to graduate.
For the purposes of this article, we'll address Vassar College's disciplinary process and why you need an attorney-advisor if you find yourself in this predicament.
Vassar College's Disciplinary Process
According to Title IX, Vassar College is required to adjudicate any cases of sexual misconduct brought to the institution's attention. The Department of Education urges compliant higher education institutions like Vassar College to respond to these accusations in a manner that is prompt and equitable. If the school fails to do so, its federal funding is at stake. Complainants (the reporter of the complaint) and especially respondents (the person accused of sexual misconduct) should understand that their school will approach their case with the utmost seriousness, and each party should follow suit.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the College has two approaches for resolving complaints of alleged discrimination and harassment: informal resolution and the formal grievance processes. Usually, cases involving sexual misconduct aren't handled informally due to the nature of those circumstances.
The Initial Investigation
The EO/AA office will investigate any reported complaints promptly and impartially. The investigation may include, but is not limited to, individual interviews with the parties involved and, where necessary, with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have other knowledge relevant to the investigation. Once the investigation concludes, a finding will be compiled of all of the information gathered.
After an investigation, the College will act expeditiously to convene a grievance hearing panel within 10 business days. The panel is chaired by the respondent's senior officer when there is no conflict of interest as determined by the EO/AA officer(s) in consultation with the President. The hearing panel will review testimony from the complainant, the respondent, and any other relevant witnesses and will consider the determination of the investigation and any documentary evidence that the panel may deem appropriate.
Determination of the Panel
After all evidence is reviewed by the panel, the panel will deliberate in private session and will decide by closed vote whether the respondent is “responsible.” In the case of a determination of a violation, the panel will determine the appropriate remedy or sanction.
Either party may appeal the determination and/or sanction(s) of the panel within five business days of receiving the written decision by delivering a signed and dated appeal by hand or certified mail.
Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the hearing is not grounds for appeal. The only grounds for appeal are as follows:
- Procedural error(s) that substantially affected the outcome of the hearing (e.g., substantiated bias or material deviations from established procedures that resulted in significant prejudice);
- New evidence unavailable at the time of the original hearing or investigation that could substantially alter the outcome of the hearing. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included;
- Sanction(s) that are disproportionate to the severity of the violation and substantially outside the parameters set by the College.
New York Title IX Attorney
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct at Vassar College, you can anyone to be your advisor in the Title IX process. Because the stakes are so high, it would be in your best interest to choose a legal professional who can help you effectively navigate the process and build a solid defense for you. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686 for help.