Resources for Complainants

This page is designed for students involved in the formal student conduct process. If you are an employee, please visit the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity website.

Navigating the Student Conduct Process

Q: Is there someone who can help me better understand the process?

A: You have the right to an advisor of your choice to help you navigate the student conduct process, and an advisor may be designated at any time throughout the process. . Someone from the Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services or a representative through Student Survivor Legal Services may act as your advisor, or you may choose any advisor with whom you feel comfortable. To designate an advisor, simply fill out the Advisor Designation Form and return it to the Decision-maker that has been assigned in your case.

Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services
24/7 Confidential Information and Support Hotline
541-346-7233 (SAFE)

Student Survivor Legal Services
541-346-4666
Schedule an appointment online
dvattorney@uoregon.edu*

*—This email address is not subject to attorney-client privilege and may be considered public record.

The advisor may serve as a support person during any meetings with the decision-maker and may also be present during the Administrative Conference. Please note the advisor’s role is to help you navigate the formal complaint resolution conference, not to speak for you or on your behalf but to advise you and assist you in understanding the process. For more information on advisors, please see the Information for Advisors section.

It is also strongly recommended that your chosen advisor visit this website to learn more about their role, and that they contact the Title IX Coordinator to ask questions and learn about our process.

Q: Can the incident be resolved without a formal investigation?

A: Informal resolutions, including but not limited to education or training, mediation, or non-disciplinary corrective action may be possible in some situations. The Director of Student Conduct and Title IX Coordinator decide on a case-by-case basis whether an informal or alternative resolution may be appropriate.

If you do not want an investigation or are not seeking discipline, meaning you are not asking for the accused student to be sanctioned or restricted from campus, informal or alternative dispute resolutions may be considered to address the incident. You can request this from the Title IX Coordinator (or ask your advisor or advocate to do so) or you may also submit a request for an informal resolution to the Decision-maker if you are already participating in a formal conduct process. Please see the Alternative Resolutions section for more information.

Q: How does a criminal investigation impact the student conduct process?

A: The student conduct process is not a criminal process; however, the two processes are not always mutually exclusive. Therefore, sometimes a violation of the Student Conduct Code may also constitute a possible crime. Students have the right to file a criminal complaint and/or a student conduct complaint or neither. Where someone has made both a criminal complaint and a student conduct complaint, the two investigations may proceed concurrently and sometimes joint interviews may be conducted with law enforcement as appropriate. However, the two remain separate processes with very different standards of proof and procedural rules. Feel free to ask questions about these differences when speaking with your advisor, or call the Title IX Coordinator for more information.

A great resource is also Student Survivor Legal Services who have attorneys that can speak with you confidentially and free of charge to help you understand these differences.

More information about law enforcement’s response can be found at http://safe.uoregon.edu/frequently-asked-questions.

Q: Is there a different process if I am a student-employee or graduate-employee?

The context of the allegation, meaning whether it involves conduct directly related to your status as a student or an employee, will determine which process should be followed. This is not always an easy determination, and therefore the Title IX Coordinator and Office of Affirmative Action will assess each situation involving employees to determine which process will control. Learn more about employee grievance procedures.

Q: What are emergency action procedures?

A: Emergency action procedures are restrictions issued to limit an accused student’s movements on campus. These are issued by the Director of Student Conduct based on a number of risk factors, and in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator. Because these actions restrict the ability of a student to access campus, these are attached to a process that allows the accused student the opportunity to respond within 72 hours (usually sooner), to understand why the action is being taken, and to provide any information that would help the university assess why that individual might not pose a risk to the health and safety of individuals or campus. For a more detailed explanation of the procedures followed during emergency actions, please visit Emergency Actions.

The Respondent may request a hearing with the Director of Student Conduct within 72 hours of any emergency action taken. Emergency action procedures may also be reviewed every ten (10) days if they request review from the Vice President of Student Life.

Emergency action procedures and mutual no contact orders are outlined in the SOPs.

Q: What are mutual no contact orders?

No contact orders are mutual and apply to both parties, regardless of who requested the order. Unlike an emergency action procedure, a no contact order does not restrict your access to facilities on campus. No contact orders may be requested independent of a formal university investigation.

To request a mutual No Contact Order, contact the Office of Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support services to speak with a confidential advocate.

A violation of either is a separate Student Conduct Code violation and should be reported to the Director of Student Conduct or Title IX Coordinator immediately.

Q: Do I have to participate in the Administrative Conference in person?

A: The expectation is that parties will participate in the Administrative Conference in person. However, in order to facilitate the fullest participation by individuals, we frequently allow parties to participate in different rooms. Therefore, the Decision-maker can speak to both parties directly and in person, and the other party can participate by audio from another room on campus. This helps to ensure that both parties can have the ability to provide questions in real-time for the other party and any witnesses, and the Decision-maker has the benefit of interacting directly with the parties in order to more fully assess credibility. In other circumstances, parties have been able to participate virtually or in rare circumstances through a bifurcated hearing. A bifurcated hearing consists of a series of conferences held on different days. Because the bifurcated hearing is not ideal, those are generally only granted after persuasive reasons have been demonstrated and we have assessed that we it is the only manner in which we can proceed to ensure a full and fair opportunity for both parties to participate.

Q: Can I request an accommodation or for assisting with language barriers?

A written request for language interpretation or translation services should be submitted to the investigator/Decision-maker as soon as possible. Requests for additional accommodations should be directed to the Accessible Education Center.

Accessible Education Center
Oregon Hall Room 164
541-346-1155
https://aec.uoregon.edu

Q: I don’t know if I can study for classes or prepare for exams during this process. What should I do?

A: The Title IX Coordinator can work with various campus personnel to help students and mitigate the impact of the student conduct resolution process. This can include working with professors to move exams, grant extensions, withdraw from courses and other resolutions. The Office of Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services can connect you with appropriate information and resources about the variety of options open to students. You can see more information at Resources for Students - Support.

Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services
24/7 Confidential Information and Support Hotline
541-346-7233 (SAFE)

Student Complainant Procedural Protections

The UO is committed to a fair, neutral and inclusive learning environment where every student is treated with dignity and respect and is granted all of the procedural protections afforded by the Student Conduct Code.

Q: What are my rights and responsibilities?

A: As outlined in the Student Conduct Code and the Standard Operating Procedures for Sexual Misconduct cases (SOPs), you can expect the following protections:

  • To be allowed reasonable time to prepare for any participation in the conference;
  • To be accorded the opportunity to offer a relevant response to any assertions made;
  • To propose relevant witnesses and submit suggested questions to the Director or Decision-maker;
  • To be assured of confidentiality, in accordance with the terms of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Oregon law;
  • To request that any person conducting a disciplinary conference be disqualified on the ground of personal bias;
  • To be protected against retaliation for filing a complaint;
  • To have an advisor of your choice present at the conference provided that the advisor’s schedule does not unreasonably delay the proceeding. The Director or Decision-maker shall determine what constitutes an “unreasonable” delay; and
  • Upon request in the case of sexual misconduct, to be present in a separate room instead of the same room as the Respondent.

As indicated on the Notice of Allegations and Investigation and detailed in the SOPs, the Decision-maker will not draw any adverse inference if you choose to remain silent during the investigation. But the decision-maker is free to draw inferences for selective participation if you choose to answer some questions but not others or participate in some portions of the student conduct process but not others.

The university encourages students to fully participate in an investigation.

Q: How am I ensured equitable treatment throughout the process?

A: The Formal Process is designed to ensure equitable treatment of both parties throughout the investigation and administrative conference. This means that both the Complainant and Respondent have the same opportunity to designate an advisor at any time during the resolution process; are informed of the outcome of the investigation simultaneously; and may appeal the decision and applicable sanctions. In short, both parties enjoy the same protections and are subject to the same rules. In addition, both parties may appeal the decision of the Formal Process which would then go to an Appellate Officer for review for any possible procedural errors or bias that may have influenced the outcome. This is not a rubber stamp, but rather a rigorous review by a non-involved trained staff to ensure that the institution has met its burden of proof and followed its own process.

A visual representation of the process is available here or a general outline of the investigation is available here.

Q: What information should I share?

A: It is important that you share all information relevant to the underlying allegation because the Decision-maker is tasked with compiling an accurate reflection of the alleged incident throughout the fact-gathering stage of the process should be shared. Irrelevant information, which includes statements of personal opinion or statements of any party’s general reputation, will not be considered. A thorough explanation of what types of information are considered relevant or typically excluded can be found here. It could be useful to discuss this with your advisor.

You will have an opportunity to review the investigator’s report, or the Record, prior to the Administrative Conference. That means that you will be able to see ALL of the information that has been gathered that the Decision-maker deemed relevant, and that may be used in coming to a final decision. More information on records is available at What records can I see and when?

All parties involved in preparation for and the Administrative Conference are expected to keep the information private.

Q: What if I believe the investigator has a conflict of interest and/or bias?

A: The investigator, also referred to as the Decision-maker, is a neutral party. The Conduct Process is a neutral process. The burden is always on the university to gather as much information as possible to arrive at a decision as to what more likely than not occurred. The university is not building a case against a party, nor is it prosecuting or defending. The Decision-maker’s primary purpose is to conduct a fair and unbiased review of the information available. In order to further protect the neutrality of the investigation, the Decision-maker is not responsible for issuing sanctions.

It is also important to understand that the investigator does not make the decision to initiate a formal investigation. The Notice of Allegations and Investigation is issued by the Director of Student Conduct in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator.

If you are concerned that the assigned Decision-maker cannot conduct a fair and unbiased review, please request a review for bias by submitting a request form to either your assigned Decision-maker or directly to the Director of Student Conduct. The situation will be assessed and a determination made as to whether a different Decision-maker should be assigned to the matter.

Q: Can I appeal a finding of responsibility or sanction?

A: Either party may appeal a decision within 14 calendar days of the final decision – that is either when the Notice of Findings is issued with a non-responsible finding, or after the final Sanctioning Letter is issued by the Director of Student Conduct after a responsible finding. The appeal process is built-in to the student conduct process and outlined in both the SOPs and separately at Appeals Standard Operating Procedures.

Either party can also appeal a decision outside of the university.

Q: What happens if an appeal determines that the Formal Process was unfairly conducted?

A: If the appeal determines that procedural error may have significantly affected the outcome of the process, or that actual bias was present, or that there was insufficient information (meaning that no reasonable Decision-maker could have come to that decision based on the information presented), then the decision would be essentially overturned and sent back to the Student Conduct office for either a new process or further investigation.

If you believe the process was conducted unfairly, there are also options via a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights or the Department of Justice.

Understanding the Investigator’s Decision-Making

Q: What kind of training does the Decision-maker receive?

Decision-makers are obligated to receive annual training related to various aspects of their duties. All Decision-makers go through a certification training specifically regarding investigating sexual misconduct cases with a national institute. Examples of these include those provided by ATIXA, T9 Mastered and the Oregon Attorney General’s training delivered by the Sexual Assault Task Force. These trainings are generally led by attorneys, law enforcement and higher education professionals, psychologists and experts on trauma and focus on the specifics of investigating cases, performing investigative interviews in a trauma-informed manner (often based on a Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI), understanding the impacts of trauma and intoxication or incapacitation on memory, assessing credibility, weighing and determining relevancy of information gathered, analyzing facts and applying policies and other aspects of formal processes.

In a typical year, Decision-makers at the UO also receive additional training on the nuances of sexual violence, dating and domestic violence; different types of prohibited discrimination and harassment including those based on sex or gender, stalking, and bullying behaviors; procedural fairness and adjudications; evidence law; running administrative conferences; understanding criminal processes etc.

You can look at an example of a typical training here. You can also learn more about how our Decision-makers are trained in the Annual Report of the Title IX Coordinator, available on this site.

Q: What does it mean when the SOPs say the Decision-maker will assess the credibility of parties and witnesses?

During the investigation, the parties and witnesses will frequently present facts upon which there is no agreement. In order for the Decision-maker to arrive at a decision, they often have to determine which version of the facts is more credible. In other words, they need to determine which version of events is more believable. This decision is based on many factors including the credibility of the party or witness providing the information. In making these determinations, the Decision-maker relies on many factors which are commonly weighed in making credibility determinations.

This list of factors is not exhaustive but generally includes:

  • The opportunity and ability of the person to see or hear or know the things discussed in the person’s statement;
  • The person’s memory;
  • If the information presented corroborated by another person or by other information? (For example, information presented by persons who saw the party soon after or at the time of the underlying occurrence or is there physical or written documentation that corroborates the person’s statements)
  • The person’s manner and demeanor while providing information to the decision-maker;
  • The person’s interest in the outcome of this investigation;
  • The person’s bias or prejudice, if any;
  • Whether other information in the Record contradicts the information presented by the witness or party;
  • The reasonableness of the person’s statements in light of all of the evidence;
  • Is the statement believable on its face? Does it make sense?
  • Past behavior (to the extent relevant under the SOPs);
  • And other factors that bear on believability.

These factors are drawn from resources frequently used by judges and decision-makers in agency processes similar to this process. You can look at the resources if you wish: 1) the 9th Circuit Manual of Model Jury Instructions and the guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Q: What if I was intoxicated at the time of the incident or can’t remember??

A: First, to encourage reporting, students reporting incidents of sexual misconduct will not be subject to Student Conduct Code violations or disciplinary sanctions relating to the use of alcohol or drugs in connection with the underlying incident. Learn more about alcohol and drug amnesty in the SOPs.

The use of alcohol or drugs will never function as a defense for engaging in sexual misconduct, harassment or unwanted sexual contact.

Second, if you are concerned about what effects intoxication may have had on your memory of the incident in question or your ability to give or seek explicit consent, you can look here to see how that is considered by a Decision-maker.

Q: Can I appeal a finding of responsibility or sanction?

A: Either party may appeal a decision within 14 calendar days of the final decision. The timeline depends on whether the final decision is not responsible or responsible with sanctions. The appeal process is built-in to the SOPs and outlined on the Dean of Students website.

Additional Resources

Administrative Conference Information

Forms

On-Campus and Off-Campus services for victims and survivors of sex or gender based violence.

On-Campus and Off-Campus services for victims and survivors of sex or gender based violence