It's a law. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. The University is committed to providing an environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sexual misconduct.
The Title IX Office is not a discipline office. It is a compliance, prevention, and resource office. The Title IX Coordinator and associated staff DO NOT have the power to sanction students (i.e. put on probation, suspend, expel, etc.) or sanction/terminate employees. Those decisions are handled by The Dean of Students via the Office of Student Conduct/Community Standards; the Dean of the degree program for graduate students; the Dean of the College for Faculty; or the Human Resources Office for staff employees.
The Title IX Office is not a discipline office as some believe. The Title IX Office is responsible for three overarching categories that we call C. P. R:
Click the link below to see the various ways in which you can report an incident. Even if you file a Title IX and Sex Discrimination report and it is determined that it does fall within that office, then your report will be forwarded to the appropriate office.
*First, if a report does not fall within the Title IX and Sex Discrimination Office, it will be forwarded to the appropriate office.
Once the institution receives an IDENTIFIABLE report of sex discrimination/sexual misconduct (some reports are anonymous and limit the institutions ability to respond effectively), an involved party can expect a University official to reach out, typically via email and/or phone call, to discuss options and resources. This is always the next step! The University Official is mainly interested in checking on the individual's wellbeing and to talk with them about options and resources. It is strongly encouraged that involved parties speak with the Title IX Coordinator in order to know what is available for support and to understand the processes.
As mentioned above, options are paths that you can take to navigate your next steps (formal - meaning an investigation or informal - a process that is not an investigation). See the pathways for options [here]. If you have questions, please contact the Title IX Coordinator so that the paths can be explained to you. Resources are individualized services that must be mutually provided to the involved parties, where applicable. Resources are intended to restore or preserve equal access to education or deter further harm. An investigation is not needed to request supportive measures under Title IX.
Once a University official reaches out to an involved party, it is up to that individual if they wish to speak with that official. No one can force or obligate an involved party to participate in a Title IX process, but there are aspects of the regulations and the policy that must occur when a process is initiated (i.e. certain meetings, review of evidence, timeframes, notices, etc.). The involved party is encouraged to speak to the Title IX Coordinator so that next steps can be discussed (what option is preferred and what support is desired). It does not matter if the involved party wishes to pursue a formal process of investigation or an informal process, they must first have a report [click here] submitted and then file a formal complaint. A report and formal complaint are required for either path. One can get a formal complaint form directly from the Title IX Coordinator after a report is filed.
Once a formal complaint is filed, it is reviewed. The formal complaint is the step that identifies which option the involved party wishes to choose (i.e. the formal or informal path). The Title IX Coordinator must review the formal complaint to first determine if it meets the standard of Title IX; if it does, it will be approved to move forward for the action requested in the formal complaint (either a formal investigation or an informal process). If the complaint does not reach the standard of Title IX, it will be dismissed and submitted to the appropriate office for review and adjudication (i.e. Dean of Students Office for undergraduate students, Human Resources for Staff, Dean of the College for faculty, etc).
As a reminder, both the complainant and respondent have rights under Title IX and the University Policy. The Title IX process is regulated by the federal guidelines and the University policy. For instance, both the complainant and respondent have a right to file a formal complaint, both can exercise their right to free speech, both have a right to have an advisor present at any and all meetings, both are presumed not responsible for any alleged violation until a final determination has been made, and both can expect to be supported under the Title IX regulations and policies - just to name a few. The Title IX Coordinator must ensure that if involved parties wish to participate in a grievance process, that they know their rights and that they are treated equally. Title IX covers undergraduate students, graduate students, employees (both faculty and staff), and participants; all parties must be treated equally under the regulations.
As mentioned above, the Title IX Office is not a discipline office and has no authority to suspend, terminate, or otherwise sanction an individual. The Title IX office can not simply "kick someone out" because a report or report(s) are made. Reports serve as information reported "in good faith" to the Title IX Office. The Title IX Office must be a neutral or unbiased party that follows the federal regulations set forth by the federal government and any policies set for by the University [see related policies here]. Involved parties have a right to due process under the Title IX regulations and the University policy. When there is a formal option for an investigation, all respondent parties must be allowed the opportunity to face and defend themselves in a hearing against anyone who brings forth an accusation under the Title IX policy. Where there is an informal option, the Title IX Office will work with the involved parties either face-to-face or individually, to resolve the matter without an investigation.
Mandated Reporters are persons required to report any information or knowledge of information that may be related to incidents of sex discrimination/misconduct to the Title IX Office. Mandated reporters make reports about what they know of others. Mandated reporting only applies to incidents of sex discrimination/misconduct; it DOES NOT apply to any other form of misconduct. Reports of other misconduct are strongly encouraged, but not mandated or required under this policy.
When someone tells an individual that they are mandated to report, they are sharing a required obligation that helps the university to know when incidents of sex discrimination, misconduct, or violence occur. The language that you may typically hear from a mandated reporter is, "I want to let you know that I am a mandated reporter. This means that I am obligated to share information about any incident of sexual misconduct/violence/discrimination with the university. What this means for you, is that a representative from the Title IX Office will contact you to offer support and resources. It is your choice as to whether or not to respond to the Title IX representative, but I encourage you to do so. You will not be forced to participate in any processes, but it is important that you know what options and resources are available to you so that you can navigate your next steps with support." Mandated reporters may say some form of this language before, during, or after a conversation. Mandated reporters may be unsure if a report falls under the sex discrimination policy, but they are encouraged to err on the side of care and caution by reporting anyway.
If you believe you are a mandated reporter who is also a complainant that has experienced a potential violation of the Title IX/Sex Discrimination Policy or you've been victimized in some way, then you may decide if you want to file a report for yourself; you are not required to report on yourself. Mandated reporting involves reporting what you know about other individuals that may be involved with or may have experienced an incident under Title IX. Mandated reporting is only required while serving in your capacity as specific student leader or Sewanee employee (see list of mandated reporters below). There are times in which someone may believe you are a mandated reporter and may come to you under that knowledge; we still encourage individuals to err on the side of caution and make a report to the Title IX Office. In short, REPORT!
Those who are NOT mandated reporters may always file reports; however, they are not required to do so under the Univeristy policy. Reports can be filed by anyone at any time from anywhere in the world.
Tennessee law also requires that any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a minor (person under 18 years of age) has been sexually abused to make a report. All Title IX reports are copied to the University police department in order that they may comply with the federal statute known as the Clery Act. A Title IX report that copies to the Univeristy Police Department IS NOT a police report. One must contact the University Police Department DIRECTLY if they wish to file a criminal report.
*The Title IX Office and staff are also mandated reporters!
The University prepares an annual report to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is a federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. It requires colleges and universities to:
The University's annual report is prepared by a team bringing together several offices and departments: the Office of the Dean of Students, in the College of Arts and Sciences; the Office of Institutional Research; the Office of Legal Counsel; the Marketing and Communications Department; and the Sewanee Police Department. The report is e-mailed to the entire campus community and can be found on the University website.
While both Title IX and the Clery Act contain reporting requirements concerning cases of sex discrimination, the requirements are not identical.
Title IX provides that no person may be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex under any educational program receiving federal financial assistance. A school must respond promptly and effectively to sexual harassment, including sexual violence. When responsible employees know about possible sex discrimination, they must report what they know to the Title IX coordinator or other school designee that is listed within their policy. The University must respond to sexual violence that occurs in the context of a school’s education programs and activities (including academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs, whether those programs take place in a school’s facilities, on a school bus, at a class or training program sponsored by the school at another location, or elsewhere).
Under the Clery Act, the University must disclose accurate and complete crime statistics for incidents that are reported to campus security authorities and local law enforcement as having occurred on or near the campus (crimes include criminal homicide, rape and other sexual assaults, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and others). “Clery Geography” includes three general categories: campus (academic buildings, residence halls, Greek houses, etc.); non-campus property owned or controlled by a recognized student organization; and public property within the reasonably contiguous geographic area of the institution (sidewalks, streets, etc.).
Much of Sewanee’s Domain beyond central campus is regularly used by students, for research and outdoor lab work, recreation, socializing, and special events. The University therefore defines “on campus” for purposes of Clery reporting as the area bounded by the Perimeter Trail. For purposes of crime reporting, the downtown area, the Sewanee Market, Lake Cheston, and part of the Mountain Goat Trail are all considered to be on campus. Sidewalks and streets on campus fall into the “public property” category. Examples of “non-campus” property include Lost Cove and Lake Dimmick.
The current secretary of education is Miguel Cardona, who was confirmed by the Senate on March 1, 2021.
The United States secretary of education is the head of the U.S. Department of Education. The secretary serves as the principal advisor to the president of the United States, and the federal government, on policies, programs, and activities related to all education in the United States. As a member of the Cabinet of the United States, the secretary is fifteenth in the line of succession to the presidency.
See the link [here] to read more on the direct answer to the question of the role of the secretary of education and how it affects you. [Here] is a link to the Department of Education's description of the role of the secretary.
Sex Discrimination is a broad term that encompasses several forms of prohibited conduct. For example, sex discrimination includes sexual misconduct such as non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Sex Discrimination under Title IX only includes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment as defined by Title IX includes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
*Sexual misconduct is a form of discrimination under federal civil rights laws. Most forms of sexual misconduct also constitute crimes in Tennessee and throughout the United States.
*You may see Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct used interchangeably, however sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination. The all encompassing term is sex discrimination.
Generally speaking, confidentiality refers to personal information shared with another individual or within a process that generally cannot be divulged or shared to a third party without [your] consent or knowledge. In other words, if you share information with a confidential resource or to persons within a confidential process, then that "resource or process" will not share that information publicly (without a legal process compelling such disclosure). If information is shared with your consent or knowledge, then that information will be kept within what is typically a small group of people/persons who have a right or need to know.
Yes. The University has an online reporting system that allows for anonymous reports. In addition, reports to University Counseling Service or University Health Services, to the University Chaplains, or to off-campus rape crisis resources can be kept confidential. Certain statistics concerning these incidents, rather than detailed information, must be reported to comply with federal requirements. Other employees are obligated to report all incidents of sexual misconduct to the Office of the Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator.
The Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance that “the [University] should take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the Report consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation.” The University’s ability to respond is limited when an incident is reported without specific names. More than half of the incidents reported in 2013 were anonymous.
Click [HERE] to go to the Release of Information requests forms. Students (and former students) have the right to request, review, and inspect their file as needed, however, any information pertaining to other students will be redacted. Should a student need an original, this may be obtained for court purposes only. Students have the right to inspect and review the their education records (providing they have not waived this right) within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. If a student is requesting documents for an application for graduate school or employment, you may contact the Dean of Students at email@example.com. Your request will be forwarded to the custodian of the record(s) requested.
If you are a former student and wish to review your conduct file for any reason, please download and fill out the Release of Information form for former students (click the link above) and return it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 931.598.1803.
No! The Title IX office nor any other party can force anyone to participate in a Title IX process.
From page 2014 of the Title IX Regulations: Formal complaint means a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a respondent and requesting that the recipient investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. At the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of the recipient with which the formal complaint is filed. A formal complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail, by using the contact information required to be listed for the Title IX Coordinator under § 106.8(a), and by any additional method designated by the recipient. As used in this paragraph, the phrase “document filed by a complainant” means a document or electronic submission (such as by electronic mail or through an online portal provided for this purpose by the recipient) that contains the complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the complainant is the person filing the formal complaint.
**SEE PAGE 10 of the University's Title IX Policy for the policy definition of "formal complaint" (which is based on the above regulations). A signed formal complaint is required regardless of if the individual wishes to pursue and investigation or not.
A signed formal compliant is required prior to a resolution process (informal or formal) and can only be filed by the complainant (person filing a complaint or alleging a violation/harm) or the Title IX Coordinator. A report serves as information and can be submitted by anyone who wishes to make a good faith report regarding a possible violation of the University's Title IX/Sex Discrimination Policy. A report can be submitted without a formal complaint, but a formal complaint should ideally have a report associated with it.
A signed formal compliant, whether by the complainant or Title IX Coordinator, moves forward when the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX has been met (i.e. The Title IX Coordinator determines this by reviewing the report details, evidence, policy definitions, and other relevant factors before an investigation can move forward). Sexual Harassment under Title IX means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:
*When a formal complaint does not satisfy one or more of these standards (including all other conditions mentioned above), then it MUST be dismissed - meaning it will not move forward beyond review and will be closed in the Title IX Office; however, a dismissed complaint from the Title IX Office will automatically move to the next appropriate office with authority over a conduct process for review (i.e. Student Conduct/Community Standards, Human Resources, Dean of the College, etc.).
Informal processes do not require an investigation and are determined on a cases-by-case basis. Both parties must agree to enter into an informal process prior to its initiation. Refer to page 21 of the Title IX/Sex Discrimination Policy. Informal Processes must be discussed with the Title IX Office and must be accompanied by a signed formal complaint.
Yes. Please see [this link] regarding the use of technology, such as Zoom, at Sewanee. Click on the option that best fits your role (i.e. student, faculty, or staff). You will find instructions for Zoom and other instructions regarding the use of technology.
Complainants (those who are bringing a complaint or report of harm) may take action through the student discipline process, through the criminal justice system, or through both. When the complainant is known -- some reports are anonymous and give only gender and the location of alleged incident -- the complainant is put in contact with law enforcement, and the complainant's options are fully presented. The University encourages complainants to consult fully about legal options.
A complainant may choose not to pursue criminal action, and the University's experience has been that students and employees rarely choose the criminal process. When an individual decides to turn to the police with a report of sex discrimination, the University can simultaneously conduct its own investigation of the allegation and take appropriate action as required by Title IX.
Filing a formal complaint of sex discrimination against another student or employee could result in a resolution process (investigation and then a hearing) in which formal disciplinary action is taken if the respondent is found responsible. Possible sanctions for students include, but are not limited to, warning, probation, suspension, and expulsion. Possible sanctions for employees include, but are not limited to, warning, corrective action under Human Resources or the Dean of the College, and termination. Students involved may also be required to attend appropriate drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs or other types of counseling. All disciplinary actions are handled outside of the Title IX Office by an office, administrator, or board that has the power to issue sanctions (i.e. student conduct, the Dean of the College, Human Resources, the Provost, etc.)
Sex Discrimination includes a range of behaviors of varying degrees of severity. The sanctions available for these behaviors are intended to reflect the facts and circumstances of a particular case as best they can be determined, and are premised on the University’s role as an educational institution.
The decision of whether or not a student or employee is responsible for the alleged charges depends upon "preponderance of evidence.” A “preponderance of evidence” means that there is 51% certainty that the respondent is responsible for a violation of the Title IX and Sex Discrimination policy.
The University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status, or conduct situation, particularly concerning alcohol and other drug violations. When a student is not dependent, the University may contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant health and/or safety risk. Parents will typically not be contacted when incidents of sex discrimination occur without notice to the student(s) and a signed FERPA waiver from the student [click here for more information]. Only current students may sign in to their University account to complete the waiver.
*Police will be contacted when reports include information about a minor (student under 18). Parents may also be contacted.
These are a few items to think about when navigating sanctions. Further violations could result in extended or elevated sanctions and or arrest. Please contact the office or the signator of your outcome or sanction letter if you have any further questions.
First, No Contact Orders (NCOs) are MUTUAL and are enforced through the University's discipline or conduct processes. No Contact Orders typically involve three parties; the two with a conflict and the University. A No Contact Order is not one-sided; it is mutual. Both parties are restricted from communication, places, and interactions with one another. Even if one individual "files" a NCO, what they are ideally doing is making a request for the University to review and approve the need for a mutual NCO between both parties. The No Contact Order is not "against" the opposing party, but rather "with" another party; it includes both parties and the University.
A request must be made to have a NCO put in place for a specified amount of time. Simply requesting or having an NCO request approved does not imply any judgement regarding the factual nature of the incident. Neither party is deemed responsible for any violation of the University's policies. An NCO is a support measure rather than a disciplinary process; however, if a NCO is violated, the violation is handled through the appropriate discipline office.
When requests are approved, the expectation is that both individuals will refrain from approaching one another at any time; calling one another at any time; send via email, campus or regular mail anything to one another; contacting or communicating with one another - including through a third party - in any way at any time; entering each others residence halls at any time; and entering each other's Greek Houses where official membership is held - at any time (Greek affiliates are not recognized by the University). It is rare that a No Contact Order is not approved, but each approval is on a case-by-base basis.
If you are a faculty or staff member who learns from a student or colleague that there is an active NCO in place, then you are welcome to work with the party(ies) on what is best for them. There is no requirement beyond ensuring that both parties are not placed in a position where they must make contact with one another. Please know that both parties can be in the same place at the same time, so long as they follow the stipulations of their order (i.e. no verbal or physical contact with each other or through other parties or mediums). The measure is always for support and is not an indication that either party is at fault. It is also not an indication that either party is accused or responsible for a violation.
CLICK [HERE] if you need to request a No Contact Order (NCO).
The University is committed to free expression. Speech not specifically directed against individuals in a harassing way may be protected by traditional safeguards of free speech, even though the comments may cause considerable discomfort or concern to others in the community.
Platforms typically have some type of policy and procedure regarding the community standards expected of their users and what to do when a user violates those standards. Click on the links below to learn about the policies and steps that you can take to address inappropriate content. A non-exhaustive list is provided below:
The University’s efforts fall into five main categories:
See below for areas to consider:
When it comes to employees, faculty should take the same approach, especially if they are the chair or head of a program, department, or other place of leadership over another faculty member.
Information may be found on several related topics in the annual Security and Fire Safety report (updated each October 1)