Effective August 14, 2020, Mohawk Valley Community College has a new policy and procedures for complying with new Title IX regulations.
ON THIS PAGE:
- Title IX: What Has Changed?
- Allegations of Misconduct that Falls Outside of Title IX’s Jurisdiction
- Supportive Measures
- How to Report Sexual Violence
- Mandatory Training for Title IX Personnel
The new Title IX Grievance policy and procedures effective August 14, 2020 include several changes to the law’s scope and the procedures colleges and universities must follow when notified of potential violations. MVCC already incorporates due process requirements under New York State’s Enough Is Enough legislations, including the opportunity to inspect and review evidence and to appeal a hearing determination to an appeals panel. MVCC’s Title IX Grievance Policy governs claims of sexual harassment and sexual violence that fall under Title IX. The full list of Title IX Policy and Procedure changes can be viewed here. The most significant changes include the following:
Limiting the physical jurisdiction of Title IX.
Previously, Title IX applied broadly, requiring schools to take action on harassing conduct even when that conduct occurred off-campus, or in programs abroad. The new Title IX regulations apply only in cases where the alleged misconduct took place within the United States, and the alleged misconduct took place within MVCC’s ‘education program or activity.’ This means that conduct that occurs in locations outside of MVCC’s ownership or control, including off-campus locations, would not fall under Title Ix, nor would conduct that occurs outside of the United States, even if it is part of an abroad learning experience. Similarly, online conduct that does not use MVCC’s computers or networks would not fall under Title IX. It is important to note that individuals who experience sexual harassment or sexual violence in places or activities outside of the jurisdiction of Title IX may still report this under other MVCC policies and procedures.
Limiting who may file a complaint under Title IX.
In order to file a formal complaint, the complainant must be participating, or attempting to participate, in a MVCC program or activity at the time the formal complaint is filed. This means that graduates, former students, or visitors to campus cannot file a formal Title IX complaint. It is important to note that these individuals may still report sexual misconduct under other MVCC policies and procedures.
Requiring actual knowledge of sexual harassment.
Previously, Title IX applied to sexual harassment that a school knew or should have known about. In order for schools to be responsible for sexual harassment under Title IX, the new regulations require that they be provided with “actual knowledge” of the harassment. This occurs when the College’s Title IX Coordinator or other individuals who have authority to “institute corrective measures” receives notice of sexual harassment.
Requiring the filing of a formal complaint to initiate discipline.
In order to proceed with disciplinary action for conduct and allegations that fall under Title IX, the College must be in receipt of a formal complaint that a complainant signs and submits electronically or in writing. If the Title IX Coordinator believes that an investigation is necessary to protect the safety of the complainant or the MVCC community, the Title IX Coordinator may file a complaint on the complainant’s behalf, even if the complainant does not wish to do so. In this case, the complainant will receive notice of any hearing dates, findings, or other relevant developments.
Providing notice to the respondent upon filing of the complaint.
The College must provide the respondent to a complaint with notice of the allegations and the opportunity to secure an advisor of choice prior to any meetings or interviews under the Title IX process. It is important to note that criminal investigations are conducted separately from Title IX investigations and are not subject to the Title IX notice requirement.
Allowing an advisor of choice the opportunity for cross-examination.
Complainants and respondents to a complaint may have an advisor of choice, who may ask questions of the other party during the formal hearing, after the hearing officers conduct their own questioning. Please note that the Title IX regulations do not allow either the Reporter or the Respondent to conduct cross-examination directly. The advisor of choice may be an attorney, but this is not required. The advisor may be anyone the party chooses, including the party’s parent, sibling, or other relative, or a friend, another student or an MVCC employee. MVCC will provide an advisor if the party does not have one.
MVCC’s Student Code of Conduct prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence that falls outside of the Title IX’s jurisdiction. MVCC is required to address this conduct under New York State’s Enough is Enough legislation, and under the New York State Human Rights Law. MVCC will hear sexual harassment and sexual violence claims that fall outside of Title IX, including but not limited to the following circumstances:
- The conduct occurred in an off-campus location where the College did not have substantial control or ownership;
- The complainant is not currently pursuing or attempting to pursue a College education program or activity. This includes former students and visitors to campus;
- The conduct occurred online, not using the College’s networks or computer resources;
- The conduct occurred in an abroad learning program outside of the United States.
- Any other circumstance where Title IX would not apply to the situation.
Individuals who have experienced sexual violence and individuals who have been accused of sexual violence have the right to receive supportive measures from the College. This is the case regardless of whether a person has decided to file a formal Title IX complaint or is eligible to do so. Support measures are non-disciplinary and non-punitive. As appropriate, supportive measures may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments
- Modifications of work or class schedules
- Campus escort services
- Restrictions on contact between the parties (no contact orders)
- Changes in college-sponsored work or housing locations
- Leaves of absence
- Increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus
MVCC’s Options for Disclosing Sexual Violence provides additional information about support and reporting. MVCC students and employees may consult confidentially with one of the College’s counselors for support, advocacy, and assistance by calling (315) 792-5326.
Because acts of sexual violence may violate criminal law in additional to MVCC policy, the Department of Public Safety may conduct a criminal investigation of allegations within its jurisdiction and in collaboration with the Reporter. The criminal investigation is separate from a Title IX Investigation.
A student or employee who would like more information about reporting a Title IX violation can initiate the process by scheduling a consultation with the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will discuss supportive measures as well as options for a criminal investigation and a Title IX investigation. If the student or employee wishes to pursue the Title IX process, the Title IX Coordinator will provide a complaint form.
The New Title IX regulations require that Title IX Coordinators, investigators, and decision-makers receive training on topics that include the following:
- The definition of sexual harassment
- The scope of the College’s education program or activity
- How to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes
- How to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias
- Any technology to be used at a live hearing
- Issues of relevance of questions and evidence, including when questions and evidence about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant.
- Issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence.
The College is a member of SUNY’s Student Conduct Institute (SCI), and individuals who are required to receive training must complete SCI trainings prior to investigating and hearing cases. Information about these trainings is available at http://system.suny.edu/sci/training.