Completion of The First Charge:

In October 2017, President Ensign established the Presidential Working Group on Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct and Title IX (PWG). Our charge is limited and focused: 

  • evaluate the college’s Sexual Misconduct Policy to be sure it is in compliance with the 2017 Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct Letter from Secretary DeVos;
  • present policy revisions when the Department of Education releases new regulations.

The first charge is completed and reflected in the policy revisions prepared by the Title IX coordinator, reviewed by the PWG, approved by President Ensign, and communicated to the campus community in October 2019 which:

  • ensures compliance with September 2017 DeVos Guidance and June 2019 PA Act 16 regulations; and
  • communicates our commitment to a transparent and equitable policy for complainants and respondents. 

Compliance:

  • 60-day Timeframe – The 2017 Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct letter states that “there is no fixed time frame under which a school must complete a Title IX Investigation.  OCR will evaluate a school’s good faith effort to conduct a fair, impartial investigation in a timely manner designed to provide all parties with resolution.”  In order to provide greater transparency to our campus community members we need to recognize that an investigation can take more than 60 days to complete, particularly in cases where there are multiple allegations and multiple witnesses to interview.  The College will continue to work expeditiously to investigate allegations of sexual or gender-based misconduct; however, we balance the importance of a prompt process with ensuring a thorough and fair process.  NOTE:  The Title IX Agreement as reflected in the 2/17/20 Policy reinstates the commitment to the 60-Day Timeframe. 
  • Amnesty Policy [Revised] – We had an Amnesty Policy in place but revised language to align with ACT 16 which requires we state that a witness or victim who makes a report in good faith will not be sanctioned under the institution’s code of conduct for drug or alcohol violations revealed in the report.

Detail of current procedures added to policy to provide transparency of the process[1]:

  • Know Your Options  – for Support Services and Reporting includes information regarding the preservation of evidence, how and to whom an alleged offense it to be reported; options for the involvement of law enforcement and campus authorities.
  • Emergency Reporting Options – to provide information to victims about the importance of preserving evidence that may assist in proving the alleged criminal offense occurred or that may be helpful in obtaining a protection order.  The Violence Against Women act (VAWA) does not require institutions to provide information specifically about where to obtain forensic exams.
  • Equitable Rights  the Title IX and Sexual Respect Office typically sends this information to Complainants and Respondents in an email.  However, many institutions are including this information within their policies. 
  • Formal Resolution Acceptance of Responsibility/No Contest [New] 
    This section was added to provide a prompt process for individuals who accept responsibility/do not contest the allegations, which typically occurs prior to the initiation of a formal investigation. Prior to October 2019, we did not have an option within our process for respondents to accept responsibility. As a result, the process for resolution was unduly prolonged to conduct the required full investigation even when a respondent accepted responsibility during the initial meeting with the Title IX Coordinator. This change allows the respondent to accept responsibility/no contest, and the matter is referred to the Review Panel which determines appropriate sanction(s)/remedies.
  • Possible Employee Sanctions   articulates all possible sanctions an institution may impose following the results of any disciplinary proceeding.            
  • Interim Measures, Support Services & Accommodations – expanded the previous policy to provide greater transparency regarding the range of protective measures we offer as appropriate to either or both the reporting and responding parties involved in an alleged incident of sexual misconduct, prior to an investigation or while an investigation is pending.
  • Adaptable Resolution Options – expanded the previous policy to provide greater transparency regarding the types of voluntary resolution options available, such as Facilitated Dialogue and Restorative Meeting; this is not required for compliance purposes, however, supports greater transparency of available Voluntary Resolution procedures.
  • Terminology –  Added the following to the policy
    • Mutual No-Contact Agreement: A mutual agreement between a Complainant and Respondent in which parties agree from having direct contact and/or direct communication with each other. 
    • Preponderance of the Evidence:  Preponderance of the evidence means that the evidence on one side outweighs the evidence on the other side or is more likely than not.  Preponderance of the evidence is the applicable standard for demonstrating facts and reaching conclusions in the resolution process conducted by Dickinson College.
    • Third-party: is any individual who is not a College student or employee or a participant in any College-related program or activity. Third parties, such as but not limited to independent contractors, vendors, visitors and guests.

Items removed from the procedure that were redundant, delayed process, and/or gave the perception of bias:

  • Impact/mitigation statements – during an investigation, both the complainant and respondent have an opportunity to be fully heard.  Thus, through the investigation process, the complainant and respondent can submit type-written statements to Investigators.  Investigators are trained to specifically ask questions during their interviews with the complainant regarding how they were affected or impacted after an incident, as this information can be a vital piece of evidence.  Thus, through the investigation process we typically find that both complainants and respondents already provide Investigators with information on how they have been impacted or are affected.  We do not find that having yet another opportunity to provide impact or mitigation statements is needed and is often repetitive causing an undue delay in the process. 
  • Character Witness Statements – the scope of an Investigation is to gather information regarding the allegations and not include information from other parties who are neither direct witnesses, contemporaneous witnesses or can possibly have information regarding the allegations.   The character of parties outside of the scope of the investigation is irrelevant information.  Investigators are trained to obtain a list of witnesses from the complainant and respondent as part of the investigation.  Investigators with the input from complainant and respondent decide whether to interview specific witnesses.  Including character witness statements can also be perceived to cause decision-makers to become bias in the process, as they consider elements outside of the scope of the allegations. 
 

[1] Important to note that this information was available to those involved in the process, but were not previously detailed in the policy itself.