The term “Title IX” refers to the ninth section of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, a federal law which protects students and employees of federally funded education programs from discrimination based on sex. Initially intended to ensure equality of opportunity and environment for female athletes, Title IX states that:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal funding or assistance.”
In the context of Title IX, it is the responsibility of universities to prevent discrimination in areas such as, “recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; discipline; single-sex education, and employment,” though, recently, Title IX has been referenced mostly in investigations of sexual misconduct and harassment.
Title IX requires Universities to maintain a formal policy on sexual harassment and misconduct, to have a specialized “Title IX Coordinator” on campus, and to conduct investigations and formal procedures in the event of a violation.
Who Does Auburn’s Title XI Policy Policy Apply To?
According to Auburn’s policy on sexual and gender-based misconduct, the rules and penalties of Title IX apply to all students and employees of the university. If a student or employee commits or is the victim of prohibited conduct, the policy applies when:
“(1) the conduct occurs on the University campus or other property owned or controlled by the University or by an officially recognized University organization;
(2) the conduct occurs in the context of a University employment or education program or activity, including, but not limited to, University-sponsored study abroad, research, on-line programs, or internship programs; or
(3) the conduct occurs outside the context of a University employment or education program or activity, but has continuing adverse effects on or creates a hostile environment for Students, Employees or Third Parties while on the University campus or other property owned or controlled by the University or in any University employment or education program or activity.”
If a student or employee of Auburn is involved in an incident occurring under these circumstances, they are subject to the procedures and penalties set in place by the university.
How Should I Report a Title IX Violation?
Auburn encourages anyone who has become aware of the occurrence of prohibited conduct to report the incident to the university or local law enforcement as soon as possible. Reports of conduct violation can be made by contacting Auburn’s Title IX Coordinator (as listed in under that heading here) or by filling out a report online at bit.ly/aureport. In the event that prohibited conduct has been reported to both law enforcement and the university, an investigation will likely be initiated by both entities.
What Happens If I Report A Conduct Violation to the Title IX Coordinator?
In the event that a person reports an incident of prohibited conduct, Auburn’s Title IX coordinator will make an initial assessment of the case. The first goal of the coordinator during the initial assessment is to assess and ensure the complainant’s immediate safety, making sure the individual receives medical care if needed and informing them of their right to contact law enforcement. After the complainant’s safety is taken care of, the coordinator will offer relevant university resources and determine which type of resolution the complainant wants to pursue: alternative, formal, or neither. Once a decision of action is made to investigate or take some other form of action which will affect the person accused of conduct violation, this individual will also be made aware of any resources or options available to them. A convenient infographic illustrating the misconduct reporting process can be found here.
What Resources Are Provided by Title XI?
The university has many resources available for those affected by sexual misconduct such as: medical examination, protective measures, and counseling. A comprehensive list of community and university resources can be found here.
What Actions Will Auburn Take in the Event of a Title IX Conduct Violation?
If no alternative resolution can be found, the Title IX coordinator will designate an investigator from the University’s Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity office and a formal investigation will begin. Both parties (complainant and respondent) will receive written notices containing all the basic case information gathered to that point and will be encouraged to preserve any possible evidence, which they will later submit to investigators along with any other relevant information. The entire process is slated to take no more than 60 days from commencement to resolution, and each party has the right to an advisor, such as an attorney, throughout this period.
What Should I Do If I’ve Receive a Title IX Violation Letter
If you’ve been accused of engaging in prohibited conduct against another Auburn University student or employee, and your accuser has chosen to report this conduct to the campus title IX coordinator, the process of investigation will start with a letter. The letter will explain the general gist of the accusation made against you, and will request that you schedule a meeting with the Title IX coordinator. DO NOT respond to the letter immediately. The first thing you should do is contact an attorney; preferably one with experience in sexual harassment defense. It’s important to remember that anything you say or do can be used against you during the investigation, so it’s best to consult your attorney before taking any action or speaking to anyone about the accusation.
The Title IX investigator will also mention in the letter that you should gather and preserve any case-related evidence; this is a good idea. Any text messages, sent or received pictures, or social media posts or messages should be printed out and kept in a file, as the information contained within these items could ultimately help to prove your innocence.
It is also incredibly important that you do not contact the accuser in any way, form, or fashion. Absolutely no phone calls, texts, snapchats, messages relayed through friends—nothing. Even if you think apologizing seems like a good idea, DO NOT act on this urge, as it is an admission of guilt which will be used towards your conviction. Even speaking about the case with friends is a bad idea, as they could be asked to testify during the proceedings.
The investigation and proceedings which follow your receipt of a Title IX violation letter require delicate action and strategic communication from your defense, and your only your attorney will know how to respond to the letter in a way which will preserve your innocence and prevent any accidental admittance of guilt.
What Factors Will the Investigation Consider to Determine Responsibility?
During the investigation, investigators will take into account any relevant medical and counseling records, prior or subsequent conduct, prior sexual history, and any available information gathered from coordination with law enforcement.
What Are the Possible Sanctions Under Auburn’s Title IX Policy?
Once the investigator finds sufficient evidence to determine responsibility for the incident, either party may submit a statement for consideration in determining sanctions. One or more sanctions will be applied based on factors such as: severity of prohibited conduct, whether the conduct was violent, impact of prohibited conduct on the victim, any prior misconduct, whether the respondent accepted responsibility, or any other relevant factors.
Possible sanctions against the respondent include:
“• Expulsion: Termination of student status for any indefinite period.
Suspension: Exclusion from classes and other privileges or activities or from the University for a definite period of time.
Suspension held in abeyance: Exclusion from classes and other privileges or activities or from the University for a definite period of time to be enforced should another violation occur.
Restitution: Reimbursement for damages or misappropriation of property.
Disciplinary Probation: Exclusion from participation in privileged or extracurricular activities for a definite period of time.
Reprimand: A written censure for violation of the Policy (and, if applicable, the Prohibited Harassment policies and/or the Code of Student Discipline) placed in the Student’s record, including the possibility of more severe disciplinary sanctions should another violation occur within a stated period of time.
Warning Notice: A notice, in writing, that continuation or repetition of conduct found wrongful, within a period of time stated in the warning, may be cause for more severe disciplinary action.
Admonition: An oral statement that the Student violated the Policy (and, if applicable, the Prohibited Harassment policies and/or the Code of Student Discipline).”
What Will Be the Final Outcome of a Title IX Investigation?
Investigators will release a final report, enacting any applied sanctions, to the Title IX coordinator within 5 days of receiving the parties’ impact and mitigation statements. Within 2 days of receiving the report, the coordinator will provide both parties with a “Notice of Outcome” which explains the violations of conduct committed, how the findings were determined, the sanctions that will be applied on the respondent, and the rationale used to determine the sanctions. At this point, both parties have up to 10 days to submit a written appeal in the case that they find a procedural error that effected the case’s outcome, a lack of sufficient evidence, disproportionate sanctions with respect to the violations committed, or any new, substantial evidence. If the decision is made to accept the appeal, that decision is final; if not, a “Notice of Final Outcome” will be released to both parties, and any sanctions or remedies will be set to action.
How Will a Title IX Violation Appear on my Transcript?
If a student is found responsible for an act of prohibited conduct and has undergone the investigation process to its full extent, a note will be attached to the student’s academic transcript, containing such language as “[Suspended, Expelled, or Withdrew While Under Investigation] for a Violation of the University’s Policy on Sexual and Gender-based Misconduct and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence.” It is possible to have the letter removed, however, in the case that the student has completed the duration of any applied sanctions and is determined to be in good standing with the university. Generally, it is a good idea to expunge any student conduct violations or criminal charges from your record before graduating, because a tarnished record can have long-lasting negative effects on graduate school and career prospects.