Investigations and Formal Processes

An investigation is a formal or informal administrative process, not a civil or criminal proceeding. The purpose of an investigation is to find out what happened, determine who, if anyone is responsible, and determine if any university policies have been violated. When the university receives information sufficient to constitute a complaint of possible gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence, the university initiates an investigation to determine whether more formal action is appropriate.

Participants (Terms and Common Definitions)

The following terms and common definitions are used to identify individuals involved in the formal investigative process:

  • Complainant – the person alleging they were subjected to the harassment or discrimination.
     
  • Respondent – the individual against whom the complaint is filed.
     
  • Witness – any individual who has knowledge of or information about the harassment or discrimination being reported.
     
  • Advisor – one person selected by the student to help the student understand and navigate the formal investigative process.
     
  • Decision-Maker or Investigator – a trained and impartial university representative designated to investigate the case (e.g. gather relevant information and conduct interviews) and make a decision regarding the allegations based upon a preponderance of the evidence (what more likely occurred based on the information available).
  • Director – Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards designated to be responsible for the administration of the Student Conduct Code or Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity
     
  • Glossary of Terms

Every member of the University of Oregon has the right to expect an academic and working environment that is safe and free of harassment and discrimination.

The Office of the Title IX Coordinator and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity strive to provide a fair, balanced, and equitable resolution process for both complainants and respondents.


Employee Grievance Processes

Information regarding complaints against employees may be found on the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity website.


Student Sexual Misconduct Formal Process

Timeline for Student Sexual Misconduct Formal Process

The following information explains the Student Conduct Standard Operating Procedures Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, and Unwanted Sexual Contact, which govern the resolution process for allegations against students.

In cases governed by the Student Conduct Code, the university works to resolve complaints within 60 business days from the date of the report. Some complaints may take longer than 60 business days to resolve due to the number and location of witnesses, the academic calendar, university closings and breaks and other unanticipated or extenuating circumstances. Both complainants and respondents will receive updates regarding the timeline for resolution and the reasons why the timeline may need to be extended throughout the formal process.

A flow chart of the typical process is available to help demonstrate the timeline.

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The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether anyone violated university policy. This means that all relevant information made available to the investigator, or information that the investigator was reasonably able to gather during the investigation is considered. Relevant information may include witness statements, electronic correspondence (e.g. text messages, social media communications), photographs, recordings, and other written, non-written, hard-copy and electronic materials. Generally, information not relevant to the investigation will not be considered.

As part of the investigation process, the investigator will provide the complainant and respondent with an opportunity to respond to all of the information that will be relied upon in making a decision.

All relevant information that is gathered is maintained in a report, known as the Record, and made available to both the complainant and respondent at the conclusion of the fact-gathering stage.

The Record will reflect the complaint and allegations made, and all of the information deemed relevant that will be used to determine what occurred. A Notice of Findings will be issued at the conclusion of the formal process containing an analysis of the relevant information, a determination about what happened and who, if anyone, was responsible, and a determination if what happened was a violation of university policy. Please note that the investigator will not determine the applicable sanctions. If appropriate, any sanctions will be assigned by the Director in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator.

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What can I expect if I am interviewed?

During the interview, the investigator will:

  • Ask you questions related to the complaint
  • Listen
  • Take notes
  • Ask you for the names of any other individuals who may have information or knowledge of the situation and about what happened
  • Provide you an opportunity to present information and material related to the situation and about what happened
  • Request that you keep the information you share with the investigator confidential while the investigation is happening. This request is made to protect the integrity of the investigation process, and to protect parties against allegations of retaliation.

Remember, the investigator determines if, based on the information available, it is more likely than not a violation of university policy occurred. The Director of Student Conduct, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, assigns sanctions if appropriate.

What records can I see and when?

As a UO student, a party to the student conduct sexual misconduct process and/or a member of the public, you have the right to see certain documents at certain times. Those rights are described below in more detail.

  1. As a UO Student, you can request to see your education records at any time.

    1. How to make the request? You can make a request to review your education records by contacting the registrar’s office. Please review the Student Records Privacy Policy for more information regarding your education records.
       
    2. When you will be able to see the records? You will be to see the records within 45 days of the date you make the request.
       
    3. What records can I see? You can review records relating to you maintained or kept by the university. Your records, however, will be redacted to protect the privacy interests of other students or employees.
  1. As a party to the student conduct sexual misconduct process, you will see the records during the review of records process as outlined in the SOPs.

    1. How to make the request? You do not need to request to see the records contained in the Record.
       
    2. When will you be able to see the records? You will be able to review the Record during the review of record period, typically about 40 business days after the notice of allegations is issued. The decision-maker will send you a letter stating when that time period will begin and a link to the record.
       
    3. What records can I see? You will be able to see all of the documents contained in the Record in their un-redacted form. This means everything that has been deemed relevant by the Decision-maker and which will be used as the basis for making a decision.
  1. As a member of the public, you can make a public records request.

    1. How to make the request? You can make a public records request by contacting the public records office at pubrec@uoregon.edu. Please visit the public record’s website for more information.
       
    2. When will you be able to see the records? The public records office will provide you with documents within a reasonable time.
       
    3. What records can I see? You can see those public records responsive to your request that do not fall within a public records exception. Common exceptions include education records covered by FERPA, internal advisory communications, and documents that infringe on someone’s personal privacy.

Administrative Conference

The administrative conference is intended to provide a fair, ample, and equitable opportunity for each party to respond to the record by posing questions to the decision-maker, the other party, and witnesses. In connection with the fact-gathering process, the administrative conference is the mechanism by which the university assesses whether a violation of university policy occurred.

The administrative conference may be augmented to account for visual appearances, e.g. via Skype, or bifurcated hearings as prescribed in the SOPs.

Notice of Findings, Sanctions, and Appeal Process

As mentioned above, the decision-maker is tasked with determining whether, based on the available information, it is more likely than not that a violation of university policy occurred. The Notice of Findings may be redacted to protect the privacy of the individuals involved but will be issued to both parties at the same time.

If a student is found responsible for a violation of the Student Conduct Code or other university policy, the Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, will determine the applicable sanction. Both the complainant and respondent may submit an impact or mitigation statement to be taken into consideration.

Appeals are limited to four bases, as prescribed in the Student Conduct Code and outlined in the Appeals Standard Operating Procedures.

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Participation in the Investigation

The university encourages students to fully participate in an investigation and expects that employees participate in an investigation. Parties may wish to consider speaking with a confidential resource prior to engaging with the investigation, however, and can find referrals to confidential resources at Resources for Complainants and Resources for Respondents.

All parties and witnesses are obligated to be honest and forthright during the course of the formal investigative process.

Non-participation in an investigation by a respondent or witness will not prevent the investigation from proceeding, but it is important to remember that the investigator may only determine whether a violation of university policy occurred based on the relevant information made available to them.

The Decision-maker will not draw any adverse inference if either Complainant or Respondent chooses to remain silent during the investigation (for example, such as when the process involves a Non-Participating Complainant or an Respondent chooses to remain silent due to a concurrent criminal proceeding). However, if a party or witness chooses to answer some questions but not others or chooses to participate in some portions of the process but not others, the Decision-maker may consider how that effects the credibility and weight of the offered information.

Please note that as stated above, UO will not take disciplinary action against a complainant (including a Non-Participating Complainant) or a respondent for simply refusing to participate in the process.

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Retaliation is Prohibited

Any action taken against an individual(s) for making a report or complaint of discrimination or harassment, for opposing discrimination or harassment, or for participating in a university resolution process, that deters the willingness of the individual(s) to speak out against discrimination and harassment and participate in the complaint resolution process is strictly prohibited by university policy.

If you believe you are the subject of any act of retaliation, immediately contact the Title IX Coordinator so they may assess the situation and offer appropriate assistance and resolution.

What is Retaliation?

Retaliation is defined as an action reasonably likely to deter someone from engaging in a protected activity, like participating in the student conduct process. Retaliation is strictly prohibited.

Examples of retaliation include, but are not limited to, contacting a witness or the other party in order to dissuade that person from participating in the process, or excluding a witness or other party from an activity solely because the witness or party is participating in the student conduct process. Any act of retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Student Conduct.

Forms / Petitions for Student SOP Process

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