Waynesburg University takes incidents of sexual misconduct that arise within its student body very seriously. The University upholds a policy against sexual misconduct within its Code of Conduct, which is enforced by the University's Title IX Office. The processes used to enact discipline on students who are alleged to have committed acts of sexual misconduct are different than those used for standard misconduct. In addition, these processes tend to carry much more gravity in the consequences if a student is held responsible for the violations.
Waynesburg University Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Process
The process begins when a student files a report with a University official that may contain an instance of sexual misconduct. The complaint will be reviewed by a Title IX responsible employee to see if it warrants action under the sexual misconduct policy. Throughout the process, the student that files the complaint will be known as the "complainant," while the student who faces the allegations will be known simply as the "accused student." The University offers the potential for sexual misconduct incidents to be resolved through an informal process, however, the informal resolution process will not be used for incidents involving sexual violence or sexual assault. If an incident cannot be resolved informally, the University will initiate a formal investigation. In addition, if it is believed that a student poses a threat to the University community as a whole, the student may be subject to certain interim measures, such as changes to housing, or even a temporary suspension.
The Title IX Coordinator will appoint investigators, as deemed appropriate by the University, to handle the case. Investigators will meet with both parties, and will provide an opportunity for the parties to suggest witnesses for the case. Throughout the investigation, each party will be given an opportunity to respond to the other's evidence. All meetings with investigators will be conducted separately. After the investigative phase as concluded, the Title IX Coordinator will decide whether or not to move the case forward to a formal hearing.
Prior to a hearing being convened, both parties will have access to the information from the investigation, and a Moderator for the hearing will be assigned by the Title IX Coordinator. Hearings are decided by a panel of three individuals selected by the Title IX Coordinator. The hearing will proceed according to the will of the Moderator, however, students will, in theory, be guaranteed certain rights at the hearing. Witnesses presented at hearings may be questioned by both parties, however, neither party may question the other directly. The panel members may also question witnesses. In addition, both parties may make statements to the panel as well. The panel will render a decision using the standard of "a preponderance of evidence."
At hearings, students may be accompanied by a supporting individual, however, this person may only be an attorney if criminal charges are involved. Sexual misconduct allegations, even without criminal charges, can be incredibly serious. Consequences of these allegations can follow a student throughout their entire life. For example, if a student fails to take the necessary steps to properly defend against the sexual misconduct allegations and is found responsible, regardless of whether there are criminal charges or not, the finding of responsibility alone can greatly jeopardize the student's present circumstances and also their future prospects; both academically and professionally. Even if a student is not suspended or expelled from the University after a finding of responsibility, the finding alone is enough to significantly impede future goals because of disclosure issues. For these reasons, and also others, regardless of whether or not criminal charges are involved, students should retain the services of an attorney. An attorney can help protect a student's rights throughout the University's Title IX investigative and disciplinary process and can help students prepare for their hearings. In addition, if criminal charges are involved, students will already have an attorney to turn to for legal guidance.
Appeals at Waynesburg University
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students are entitled to make an appeal. Appeals must be submitted within five (5) business days following the hearing. The grounds for appeal are a claim that University procedure was not followed, or that the decision was arbitrary and capricious.