Resources for Respondents

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: I just received a letter titled “Notice of Allegations and Investigation.” What does this mean?

If you have received a Notice of Allegations, it means that the Offices of the Title IX Coordinator and Student Conduct and Community Standards received a report that alleged that you were involved in an incident of sexual misconduct, and that there is enough information to begin a formal investigation. The purpose of the formal investigation is to determine if a violation of the Student Conduct Code occurred. 

The Notice of Allegations and Investigation should also include an outline of the investigation process, which is a condensed version of the Student Conduct Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, and Unwanted Sexual Contact. The SOPs are also summarized on the Title IX website.

This does NOT mean that you have been found responsible for a violation of the Conduct Code. It simply means that an investigation has been started and that you will be expected to participate in a fact-finding process to help the university determine what, if anything, happened. Under our Student Conduct Code, you are considered not responsible unless and until the university determines by a preponderance of the information that you are responsible. You can learn more about your rights in this process below and on the Investigations and Formal Process page.

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

Yes. After an emergency action is initiated, or after a Notice of Allegations has been issued, a staff member with Respondent Support Services will reach out to you. You can choose to respond to them or not, and there is no obligation to utilize their services. However, this non-confidential staff member is available to help provide you with information about the resources and support that the university can provide, as well as to answer questions about the process itself. The Respondent Support person can connect you with priority access to counseling services, with other confidential resources on campus such as free legal resources, the health center and the ombuds. The Respondent Support person can also assist you with any academic or other support that you may need such as talking with professors about moving exams, changing residences or other support that may be appropriate to help reduce the impact of this process on your academic experience. You can also ask to speak with a Respondent Support person, or request a different staff member by emailing the Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator@uoregon.edu.

Advisor: You may also select an advisor who can help you prepare for meetings or conferences, accompany you in any conduct proceedings, advise you in the sharing of information, and assist you during the appeals process. Your chosen advisor can be anyone 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.

The Office of Student Advocacy provides free and confidential legal advice and assistance to students accused of violating the Student Conduct Code:

ASUO Office of Student Advocacy (OSA)
EMU Room 337
541-346-3722
osa@officeofstudentadvocacy.org

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: How do I deny the allegation?

You must schedule an interview with the assigned Decision-maker in order to deny the allegation. You should have been contacted the Decision-maker to schedule an interview within seven (7) calendar days of receiving the Notice of Allegations. If you have not already scheduled an interview, or are unsure who the assigned Decision-maker is, contact the Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards immediately. During your initial interview with the Decision-maker you will find out more information about the details of the complaint and you will be able to respond. You will also have the opportunity to provide the names of witnesses with whom you would like the Decision-maker to speak, as well as to begin providing any other information you think would help the Decision-maker understanding what happened.

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

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. You can request this from the Title IX Coordinator (or ask your advisor 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.

As outlined in the SOPs, you may also choose to accept responsibility for the allegation and waive the student conduct investigation and Administrative Conference. To do that, you would meet with the Decision-maker who will take your statement accepting responsibility, have you sign a waiver of the formal process, and issue a Notice of Finding within ten (10) days.

Q: What is the purpose of a formal investigation?

The Student Conduct Code establishes community standards and procedures necessary to maintain and protect an environment conducive to learning and in keeping with the educational objective of the University of Oregon. As a student enrolled at the University of Oregon, you are simultaneously a member of the university and broader community and held to the standards and procedures outlined in the Student Conduct Code. It is your responsibility to know your rights and fulfill these expectations.

An alleged violation of the Student Conduct Code is equivalent to an alleged violation of university policy. The purpose of a formal investigation is to determine if, based on all of the relevant information available, a violation of the Student Conduct Code occurred.

Q: Why is there a formal university investigation if no criminal charges are being pursued?

The Student Conduct Code ensures your rights as a student are protected and outlines your responsibilities and the university’s expectations for your behavior as a student. The university’s student conduct investigation is independent of any criminal investigation or proceeding, the student conduct process is not a criminal process nor do violations of the Student Conduct Code necessarily constitute violations of Oregon’s criminal code.

If the underlying act may constitute a violation of both the Student Conduct Code and the criminal code, students have the right to file a criminal complaint and/or a student conduct complaint or neither. Similarly, initiation of a criminal process does not necessarily mean a University process will also be initiated.

However, if the University receives information regarding a criminal process, it may trigger an obligation on the part of the University to respond as appropriate to ensure the safety of students and the campus community. Title IX, along with other state and federal laws, obligate the university to provide a safe environment free from discrimination and harassment.

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 if emergency action procedures have been issued against me?

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.

It is important that you abide by the emergency action procedure. A violation of the emergency action procedure may be a separate student conduct violation. An emergency action procedure is a restriction of your movements on campus, whether that means limiting the facilities you may use or setting a specific schedule.

You 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 you 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 Respondent Support Services staff member who reached out to you can connect you with appropriate information and resources about the variety of options open to students. You can see more information at Respondent Support Services.

Office of the Title IX Coordinator
Johnson Hall Room 106
541-346-8136
titleixcoordinator@uoregon.edu

The University Counseling Center also offers counseling and mental health support for students accused of sexual misconduct. The Respondent Support Services staff or Title IX Coordinator can help you gain prioritized access to counseling services at your request.

University Counseling & Testing Center (UCTC) – Interpersonal Violence Response Team
UCTC Second Floor
541-346-3227

Student Respondent Procedural Protections

The UO is committed to a fair, unbiased, and inclusive learning environment where every student is treated with dignity and respect and is granted all 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 informed of the complaint and alleged misconduct upon which the complaint is based;
  • To appear before the Director of Community Standards or their designee in an administrative conference, as outlined at in this code;
  • To be allowed reasonable time to prepare for the conference;
  • To be informed of the information upon which a complaint is based and accorded an opportunity to offer a relevant response;
  • To propose relevant witnesses and submit suggested questions to the Director;
  • 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 considered not responsible for the alleged conduct until proven responsible by a preponderance of the information; and
  • To have an adviser of their choice present at the conference provided that the advisor’s schedule does not unreasonably delay the conference. The director shall determine what constitutes an "unreasonable" delay.

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 allegations because the Decision-maker is tasked with compiling an accurate reflection of the alleged incident throughout the fact-gathering stage of the process. Irrelevant information 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 here.

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?

A: 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.


Additional Resources

Administrative Conference Information

Forms

On-Campus Confidential Services

On-Campus Non-Confidential Services

Off-Campus Services