Formal Grievance Procedure for Alleged Violations of Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct: Process A

Overview

Mount Holyoke will act on any formal or informal notice/complaint of violation of the Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy that is received by the Title IX Coordinator or any other Official with Authority by applying these procedures, known as “Formal Grievance Procedures Process A.” Process A applies to all Title IX Misconduct as defined by regulations issued in May 2020 by the U.S. Department of Education to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, codified at 34 C.F.R. Part 106.  Definitions of Title IX Misconduct can be found in the Gender Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy, under “Prohibited Conduct”.

Unionized/other categorized employees are subject to the terms of their agreements/employees’ rights to the extent those agreements do not conflict with federal or state compliance obligations.

The procedures below may be used to address collateral misconduct arising from the investigation of or occurring in conjunction with reported misconduct (e.g., vandalism, physical abuse of another). All other allegations of misconduct unrelated to incidents covered by the Policy will be addressed through procedures elaborated in the student, staff and faculty handbooks.

Notice/Complaint

Upon receipt of a complaint or notice to the Title IX Coordinator of an alleged violation of the Policy, the College initiates a prompt initial assessment to determine the next steps the College needs to take. The College will initiate at least one of three responses: 

  1. Offering supportive measures because the Complainant does not want to proceed formally; and/or
  2. An Alternative Resolution; and/or 
  3. A Formal Grievance Process including an investigation and a hearing. 

The investigation and grievance process will determine whether or not the Policy has been violated. If so, the College will promptly implement effective remedies designed to ensure that it is not deliberately indifferent to harassment or discrimination, their potential recurrence, or their effects.

Initial Assessment

Following receipt of notice or a complaint of an alleged violation of this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator engages in an initial assessment. The steps in an initial assessment can include:

  • If notice is given, the Title IX Coordinator seeks to determine if the person impacted wishes to make a formal complaint, and will assist them to do so, if desired. 

    • If they do not wish to do so, the Title IX Coordinator determines whether to initiate a complaint because a violence risk assessment indicates a compelling threat to health and/or safety.

  • If a formal complaint is received, the Title IX Coordinator assesses its sufficiency and works with the Complainant to make sure it is correctly completed.

  • The Title IX Coordinator reaches out to the Complainant to offer supportive measures. 

  • The Title IX Coordinator works with the Complainant to ensure they are aware of the right to have an Advisor.

  • The Title IX Coordinator works with the Complainant to determine whether the Complainant prefers a supportive and remedial response, an Alternative Resolution option, or a formal investigation and grievance process. 

    • If a supportive and remedial response is preferred, the Title IX Coordinator works with the Complainant to identify their wishes and then seeks to facilitate implementation. If no Formal Grievance Process is initiated, though the Complainant can elect to initiate one later, if desired. 

    • If an Alternative Resolution option is preferred, the Title IX Coordinator assesses whether the complaint is suitable for Alternative Resolution, and may seek to determine if the Respondent is also willing to engage in informal resolution. 

    • If a Formal Grievance Process is preferred, the Title IX Coordinator determines if the misconduct alleged falls within the scope of Title IX Misconduct or Gender-Based Sexual Misconduct or both.

      • If necessary, the Title IX Coordinator may dismiss elements of the complaint as required and outlined further in section “b” below. 

  1. Violence Risk Assessment and Emergency Removal

In many cases, the Title IX Coordinator may determine that a Violence Risk Assessment (VRA) should be conducted by a threat assessment team after receiving a report. A VRA can aid in critical and/or required determinations, including:

  • Emergency removal of a Respondent on the basis of immediate threat to physical health/safety;
  • Whether the Title IX Coordinator should pursue/sign a formal complaint absent a willing/able Complainant;
  • Whether to put the investigation on the footing of incident and/or pattern and/or climate;
  • To help identify potential predatory conduct;
  • To help assess/identify grooming behaviors;
  • Whether it is reasonable to try to resolve a complaint through Alternative Resolution, and what modality may be most successful;
  • Whether to permit a voluntary withdrawal by the Respondent;
  • Whether to impose transcript notation or communicate with a transfer Recipient about a Respondent;
  • Assessment of appropriate sanctions/remedies (to be applied post-hearing); and/or
  • Whether a Clery Act Timely Warning or Trespass Order needed

    Threat assessment is the process of evaluating the actionability of violence by an individual against another person or group following the issuance of a direct or conditional threat. A VRA is a broader term used to assess any potential violence or danger, regardless of the presence of a vague, conditional, or direct threat.

    Where a VRA is required by the Title IX Coordinator, a Respondent refusing to cooperate may result in a charge of failure to comply within the appropriate student or employee conduct process.

    A VRA is not an evaluation for an involuntary behavioral health hospitalization (Section XII in Massachusetts), nor is it a psychological or mental health assessment. A VRA assesses the risk of actionable violence, often with a focus on targeted/predatory escalations, and is supported by research from the fields of law enforcement, criminology, human resources, and psychology.

    The College can act to remove a Respondent entirely or partially from its education program or activities on an emergency basis when an individualized safety and risk analysis has determined that an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual justifies removal. Emergency Removal may be one outcome of a VRA. This risk analysis is performed by the Title IX Coordinator in conjunction with the threat assessment team Behavioral Intervention Team using its standard objective violence risk assessment procedures.

    In all cases in which an emergency removal is imposed, the student or employee will be given notice of the action and the option to request to meet with the Title IX Coordinator prior to such action/removal being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the action/removal should not be implemented or should be modified.

    This meeting is not a hearing on the merits of the allegation(s), but rather is an administrative process intended to determine solely whether the emergency removal is appropriate. When this meeting is not requested in a timely manner objections to the emergency removal will be deemed waived. A Complainant and their Advisor may be permitted to participate in this meeting if the Title IX Coordinator determines it is equitable to do so. This section also applies to any restrictions that a coach or athletic administrator may place on a student-athlete arising from allegations related to Title IX. There is no appeal process for emergency removal decisions.

    A Respondent may be accompanied by an Advisor of their choice when meeting with the Title IX Coordinator for the show cause meeting. The Respondent will be given access to a written summary of the basis for the emergency removal prior to the meeting to allow for adequate preparation.

    The Title IX Coordinator has sole discretion under this policy to implement or stay an emergency removal and to determine the conditions and duration. Violation of an emergency removal under this policy will be grounds for discipline, which may include expulsion or termination.

    The College will implement the least restrictive emergency actions possible in light of the circumstances and safety concerns. As determined by the Title IX Coordinator, these actions could include, but are not limited to: removing a student from a residence hall, temporarily re-assigning an employee, restricting a student’s or employee’s access to or use of facilities or equipment, allowing a student to withdraw or take grades of incomplete without financial penalty, authorizing an administrative leave, and suspending a student’s participation in extracurricular activities, student employment, student organizational leadership, or intercollegiate/intramural athletics.

    At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, alternative coursework options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an academic impact as possible on the parties.

      2. Dismissal (Mandatory and Discretionary)

  1. The College must dismiss a formal complaint of Title IX Misconduct including allegations of Title IX Misconduct if, at any time during the investigation or hearing, it is determined that:The conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute Title IX Misconduct as defined in the Policy, even if proved; and/or
  2. The Title IX Misconduct conduct did not occur in an educational program or activity controlled by Mount Holyoke College (including buildings or property controlled by recognized student organizations), and/or the College does not have control of the Respondent; and/or
  3. The Title IX Misconduct conduct did not occur against a person in the United States; and/or
  4. At the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant of Title IX Misconduct is not participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of the College.

A dismissal of Title IX Misconduct does not prohibit the College from proceeding with a formal grievance process if the alleged conduct falls under the definition of Gender Based or Sexual Misconduct. Further dismissals under this policy do not preclude the College from following up on reported behavior under additional, relevant College policies.

The College may dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing: 

  1. A Complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein; or
  2. The Respondent is no longer enrolled in or employed by the College; or 
  3. Specific circumstances prevent the College from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.

Upon any dismissal, the College will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and the rationale for doing so simultaneously to the parties. 

Please note that dismissing a complaint does not limit the College’s authority to address a complaint of Gender-Based or Sexual Harassment or other College Policy violations with an appropriate process and remedies. 

This dismissal decision is appealable by any party under the procedures for appeal below. A Complainant who decides to withdraw a complaint may later request to reinstate it or refile it. 

Counterclaims

The College is obligated to ensure that the grievance process is not abused for retaliatory purposes. The College permits the filing of counterclaims but uses an initial assessment, described above, to assess whether the allegations in the counterclaim are made in good faith. Counterclaims by the Respondent may be made in good faith, but are, on occasion, also made for purposes of retaliation. Counterclaims made with retaliatory intent will not be permitted.

Counterclaims determined to have been reported in good faith will be processed using the grievance procedures below. 

Counterclaims may be resolved through the same investigation as the underlying allegation, at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator. When counterclaims are not made in good faith, they will be considered retaliatory and may constitute a violation of this Policy.

Right to an Advisor

The parties may each have an Advisor of their choice present with them for all meetings and interviews within the resolution process, if they so choose. The parties may select whoever they wish to serve as their Advisor as long as the Advisor is eligible and available. 

Choosing an Advisor who is also a witness in the process creates potential for bias and conflict-of-interest. A party who chooses an Advisor who is also a witness can anticipate that issues of potential bias will be explored by the hearing Decision-maker(s).

a. Who Can Serve as an Advisor

The Advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other individual a party chooses to advise, support, and/or consult with them throughout the resolution process. The parties may choose Advisors from inside or outside of the College community. 

The Title IX Coordinator can also assign a trained Advisor for any party if the party so chooses. If the parties are assigned an Advisor, the Advisor will be trained by the College and be familiar with the College’s resolution process. 

If the parties choose an Advisor from outside the pool of those identified by the College, the Advisor may not have been trained by the College and may not be familiar with the College’s policies and procedures. Parties also have the right to choose not to have an Advisor in the initial stages of the resolution process, prior to a hearing. 

b. Advisors in Hearing/College- Appointed Advisor

Under U.S. Department of Education regulations applicable to Title IX, cross-examination is required during the hearing, but must be conducted by the parties’ Advisors. The parties are not permitted to directly cross-examine each other or any witnesses. If a party does not have an Advisor for a hearing, the College will appoint a trained Advisor for the limited purpose of conducting any cross-examination. 

A party may choose their own Advisor, but they may not proceed without an Advisor. If the party’s Advisor will not conduct cross-examination, the College will appoint an Advisor who will do so, regardless of the participation or non-participation of the advised party in the hearing itself. Extensive questioning of the parties and witnesses will also be conducted by the Decision-maker(s) during the hearing. 

c. Advisor’s Role

The parties may be accompanied by their Advisor in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present, including intake and interviews. Advisors should help the parties prepare for each meeting and are expected to advise ethically, with integrity, and in good faith. 

The College cannot guarantee equal Advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an Advisor who is an attorney, but the other party does not or cannot afford an attorney, the College is not obligated or permitted to provide an attorney. 

d. Advisor Violations of College Policy

All Advisors are subject to the same College policies and procedures, whether they are attorneys or not. Advisors are expected to advise their advisees without disrupting proceedings. The parties are expected to ask and respond to questions on their own behalf throughout the investigation phase of the resolution process. Although the Advisor generally may not speak on behalf of their advisee, the Advisor may consult with their advisee, either privately as needed, or by conferring or passing notes during any resolution process meeting or interview. For longer or more involved discussions, the parties and their Advisors should ask for breaks to allow for private consultation.

Any Advisor who oversteps their role as defined by this policy will be warned only once. If the Advisor continues to disrupt or otherwise fails to respect the limits of the Advisor role, the meeting will be ended, or other appropriate measures implemented. Subsequently, the Title IX Coordinator will determine how to address the Advisor’s non-compliance and future role.

e. Sharing Information with the Advisor

The College expects that the parties may wish to have the College share documentation and evidence related to the allegations with their Advisors. Parties may share this information directly with their Advisor or other individuals if they wish. Doing so may help the parties participate more meaningfully in the resolution process. 

The College also provides a consent form that authorizes the College to share such information directly with their Advisor. The parties must either complete and submit this form to the Title IX Coordinator or provide similar documentation demonstrating consent to a release of information to the Advisor before the College is able to share records with an Advisor. 

If a party requests that all communication be made through their Advisor, the College will comply with that request once it is submitted in writing to the Title IX Coordinator.  

f. Privacy of Records Shared with Advisor

Advisors are expected to maintain the privacy of the records shared with them. These records may not be shared with third parties, disclosed publicly, or used for purposes not explicitly authorized by the College. The College may seek to restrict the role of any Advisor who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by the College’s privacy expectations.

g. Expectations of an Advisor

The College generally expects an Advisor to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend meetings when planned, but may change scheduled meetings to accommodate an Advisor’s inability to attend, if doing so does not cause an unreasonable delay. The College may also make reasonable provisions to allow an Advisor who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, video conferencing, or other similar technologies as may be convenient and available. 

h. Expectations of the Parties with Respect to Advisors

A party may elect to change Advisors during the process and is not obligated to use the same Advisor throughout. The parties are expected to inform the Investigator(s) of the identity of their Advisor. The parties are expected to provide timely notice to the Title IX Coordinator if they change Advisors at any time. It is assumed that if a party changes Advisors, consent to share information with the previous Advisor is terminated, and a release for the new Advisor must be secured. Parties are expected to inform the Title IX Coordinator of the identity of their hearing Advisor at least two (2) business days before the hearing. 

i. Assistance in Securing an Advisor

For representation, Respondents may wish to contact organizations such as:

Complainants may wish to contact organizations such as:

Resolution Privacy

Resolution proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the resolution process are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accordance with Mount Holyoke College policy. 

Grievance Process Pool

The Formal Grievance Process relies on a pool of administrators (“the Pool”) to carry out the process. Members of the Pool are announced in an annual distribution of this policy to all students, parents/guardians of students, employees, prospective students, and prospective employees. 

The list of Pool members and a description of the Pool can be found on the Grievance Pool Members page.

a. Pool Member Roles

Members of the Pool are trained annually, and can serve in in the following roles, at the direction of the Title IX Coordinator:

  • To provide appropriate intake of and initial guidance pertaining to complaints
  • To act as an Advisor to the parties
  • To serve in a facilitation role in Alternative Resolution if appropriately trained 
  • To perform or assist with initial assessment
  • To investigate complaints
  • To serve as a hearing facilitator 
  • To serve as a Decision-Maker regarding the complaint
  • To serve as an Appeal Decision-maker 

b. Pool Member Appointment

The Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, appoints the Pool, which acts with independence and impartiality. 

c. Pool Member Training

The Pool members receive annual training. This training includes, but is not limited to: 

  • The scope of the College’s Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures
  • How to conduct investigations and hearings that protect the safety of Complainants and Respondents, and promote accountability
  • Implicit bias
  • Disparate treatment and impact 
  • Reporting, confidentiality, and privacy requirements
  • Applicable laws, regulations, and federal regulatory guidance
  • How to implement appropriate and situation-specific remedies
  • How to investigate in a thorough, reliable, and impartial manner
  • How to uphold fairness, equity, and due process
  • How to weigh evidence 
  • How to conduct questioning 
  • How to assess credibility
  • Impartiality and objectivity 
  • How to render findings and generate clear, concise, evidence-based rationales 
  • The definitions of all offenses 
  • How to apply definitions used by the College with respect to consent (or the absence or negation of consent) consistently, impartially, and in accordance with policy 
  • How to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes 
  • How to serve impartially by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias 
  • Any technology to be used at a live hearing 
  • Issues of relevance of questions and evidence
  • Issues of relevance to create an investigation report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence
  • How to determine appropriate sanctions in reference to all forms of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation allegations 

Specific training is also provided for Appeal Decision-makers, intake personnel, Advisors (who are College employees), and Chairs. All Pool members are required to attend these trainings annually and publicly post information regarding this training.

d. Pool Membership

The Pool includes representatives from: 

  • Human resources,
  • Division of Student Life
  • Academic Affairs
  • Dean of Faculty’s Office
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 
  • Athletics
  • AccessAbility Services
  • Institutional Research

Formal Grievance Process: Notice of Investigation and Allegations

The Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice of the investigation and allegations (the “NOIA”) to the Respondent upon commencement of the Formal Grievance Process. This facilitates the Respondent’s ability to prepare for the interview and to identify and choose an Advisor to accompany them. The NOIA is also copied to the Complainant, who is to be given advance notice of when the NOIA will be delivered to the Respondent. 

The NOIA will include:

  • A meaningful summary of all of allegations,
  • The identity of the involved parties (if known),  
  • The precise misconduct being alleged, 
  • The date and location of the alleged incident(s) (if known), 
  • The specific policies implicated, 
  • A description of the applicable procedures, 
  • A statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result, 
  • A statement that the College presumes the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the evidence supports a different determination, 
  • A statement that determinations of responsibility are made at the conclusion of the process and that the parties will be given an opportunity to inspect and review all directly related and/or relevant evidence obtained during the review and comment period, 
  • A statement about the College’s policy on retaliation,
  • Information about the privacy of the process,
  • Information on the need for each party to have an Advisor of their choosing and suggestions for ways to identify an Advisor, 
  • A statement informing the parties that the College’s Policy prohibits knowingly making false statements, including knowingly submitting false information during the resolution process,
  • Detail on how the party may request disability accommodations during the interview process,
  • The name(s) of the Investigator(s), along with a process to identify, in advance of the interview process, to the Title IX Coordinator any conflict of interest that the Investigator(s) may have, and
  • An instruction to preserve any evidence that is directly related to the allegations.

Amendments and updates to the NOIA may be made as the investigation progresses and more information becomes available regarding the addition or dismissal of various charges. 

Notice will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address(es) of the parties as indicated in official College records, or emailed to the parties’ College issued email accounts. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. 

Resolution Timeline

The College will make a good faith effort to complete the resolution process within a sixty-to-ninety (60-90) business day time period, including appeal, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX Coordinator, who will provide notice and rationale for any extensions or delays.

Appointment of Investigators

Once the decision to commence a formal investigation is made, the Title IX Coordinator appoints an Investigator to conduct the investigation. 

Ensuring Impartiality

Any individual materially involved in the administration of the resolution process [including the Title IX Coordinator, Investigator(s), and Decision-maker(s)] may neither have nor demonstrate a conflict of interest or bias for a party generally, or for a specific Complainant or Respondent.

The Title IX Coordinator will vet the assigned Investigator(s) to ensure impartiality by ensuring there are no actual or apparent conflicts of interest or disqualifying biases. The parties may, at any time during the resolution process, raise a concern regarding bias or conflict of interest, and the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the concern is reasonable and supportable. If so, another Investigator will be assigned and the impact of the bias or conflict, if any, will be remedied. If the source of the conflict of interest or bias is the Title IX Coordinator, concerns should be raised with the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. 

The Formal Grievance Process involves an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence obtained, including evidence which supports that the Respondent engaged in a policy violation and evidence  which supports that the Respondent did not engage in a policy violation. Credibility determinations may not be based solely on an individual’s status or participation as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness. 

The College operates with the presumption that the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the Respondent is determined to be responsible for a policy violation by the preponderance of evidence standard. 

Investigation Timeline

Investigations are completed expeditiously, normally within thirty (30) business days, though some investigations may take weeks or even months, depending on the nature, extent, and complexity of the allegations, availability of witnesses, police involvement, etc. The College will make a good faith effort to complete investigations as promptly as circumstances permit and will communicate regularly with the parties to update them on the progress and timing of the investigation. 

Delays in the Investigation Process and Interactions with Law Enforcement

The College may delay its investigation if circumstances require. Such circumstances include, but are not limited to: a request from law enforcement to temporarily delay the investigation, the need for language assistance, the absence of parties and/or witnesses, and/or accommodations for disabilities or health conditions. 

The College will communicate in writing the anticipated duration of the delay and reason to the parties and provide the parties with status updates if necessary. The College will promptly resume its investigation and resolution process as soon as feasible. During such a delay, the College will implement supportive measures as deemed appropriate. Mount Holyoke College action(s) are not typically altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the underlying incident(s) have been filed or that criminal charges have been dismissed or reduced. 

Steps in the Investigation Process

All investigations are thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt, and fair. Investigations involve interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses; obtaining available, relevant evidence; and identifying sources of expert information, as necessary. 

All parties have a full and fair opportunity, through the investigation process, to suggest witnesses and questions, to provide evidence and expert witnesses, and to fully review and respond to all evidence on the record. 

The Investigator(s) typically take(s) the following steps, if not already completed (not necessarily in this order):

  • Determine the identity and contact information of the Complainant
  • In coordination with campus partners (e.g., the Title IX Coordinator), initiate or assist with any necessary supportive measures 
  • Identify all policies implicated by the alleged misconduct and notify the Complainant  and Respondent of all of the specific policies implicated
  • Assist the Title IX Coordinator with conducting a prompt initial assessment to determine if the allegations indicate a potential policy violation 
  • Commence a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation by identifying issues and developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended investigation timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the parties
  • Meet with the Complainant to finalize their interview/statement, if necessary 
  • Provide each interviewed party and witness an opportunity to review and verify the Investigator’s summary notes (or transcript) of the relevant evidence/testimony from their respective interviews and meetings
  • When participation of a party is expected, provide that party with written notice of the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as the expected participants and purpose 
  • Interview all available, relevant witnesses and conduct follow-up interviews as necessary
  • Allow each party the opportunity to suggest witnesses and questions they wish the Investigator(s) to ask of the other party and witnesses, and document in the report which questions were asked, with a rationale for any changes or omissions. 
  • Complete the investigation promptly and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline
  • Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) with a list of witnesses whose information will be used to render a finding
  • Write a comprehensive investigation report fully summarizing the investigation, all witness interviews, and addressing all relevant evidence. Appendices including relevant physical or documentary evidence will be included 
  • The Investigator(s) gather, assess, and synthesize evidence, but make no conclusions, engage in no policy analysis, and render no recommendations as part of their report
  • Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) a secured electronic or hard copy of the draft investigation report as well as an opportunity to inspect and review all of the evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the reported misconduct, including evidence upon which the College does not intend to rely in reaching a determination, for a ten (10) business day review and comment period so that each party may meaningfully respond to the evidence in writing. The parties may elect to waive the full ten days. Each copy of the materials shared will be watermarked on each page with the role of the person receiving it (e.g., Complainant, Respondent, Complainant’s Advisor, Respondent’s Advisor). 
  • The Investigator(s) may elect to respond in writing in the investigation report to the parties’ submitted responses and/or to share the responses between the parties for additional responses
  • The Investigator(s) will incorporate relevant elements of the parties’ written responses into the final investigation report, include any additional relevant evidence, make any necessary revisions, and finalize the report. The Investigator(s) should document all rationales for any changes made after the review and comment period
  • The Investigator(s) shares the report with the Title IX Coordinator for their review and feedback
  • The Investigator will incorporate any relevant feedback, and the final report is then shared with all parties and their Advisors through secure electronic transmission or hard copy at least ten (10) business days prior to a hearing. The parties are also provided with a file of any directly related evidence that was not included in the report 

Role and Participation of Witnesses in the Investigation

Witnesses (as distinguished from the parties) who are employees of the College are expected to cooperate with and participate in the College’s investigation and resolution process. Failure of such witnesses to cooperate with and/or participate in the investigation or resolution process constitutes a violation of policy and may warrant discipline. 

While in-person interviews for parties and all potential witnesses are ideal, circumstances may require individuals to be interviewed remotely. Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WebEx, or similar technologies may be used for interviews if the Investigator(s) determine that timeliness or efficiency dictate a need for remote interviewing. The College will take appropriate steps to reasonably ensure the security/privacy of remote interviews.

Recording of Interviews

No unauthorized audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during investigation meetings. If Investigator(s) elect to audio and/or video record interviews, all involved parties must be made aware of and consent to audio and/or video recording.

Evidentiary Considerations in the Investigation

The investigation does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) the character of the parties; or 3) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent. 

Referral for Hearing

Provided that the complaint is not resolved through Alternative Resolution, once the final investigation report is shared with the parties, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the matter for a hearing. 

The hearing cannot be less than ten (10) business days from the conclusion of the investigation –when the final investigation report is transmitted to the parties and the Decision-maker–unless all parties and the Decision-maker agree to an expedited timeline. 

The Title IX Coordinator will select appropriate Decision-makers from the Pool depending on whether the Respondent is an employee or a student.

Hearing Decision-maker Composition

The College will designate a three-member panel from the Pool, at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator. One of the three members will be appointed as Chair by the Title IX Coordinator. 

The Decision-makers will not have had any previous involvement with the investigation. 

The Title IX Coordinator may not serve as a Decision-maker or Chair in the matter but may serve as an administrative facilitator of the hearing if their previous role(s) in the matter do not create a conflict of interest. Otherwise, a designee may fulfill this role. The hearing will convene at a time determined by the Chair or designee.

Evidentiary Considerations in the Hearing 

Any evidence that the Decision-maker(s) determine(s) is relevant and credible may be considered. The hearing does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) the character of the parties; or 3) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.

Notice of Hearing 

No less than ten (10) business days prior to the hearing, the Title IX Coordinator or the Chair will send notice of the hearing to the parties. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. 

The notice will contain:

  • A description of the alleged violation(s), a list of all policies allegedly violated, a description of the applicable procedures, and a statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result.
  • The time, date, and location of the hearing and a reminder that attendance is mandatory, superseding all other campus activities. 
  • Any technology that will be used to facilitate the hearing.
  • Information about the option for the live hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms using technology that enables the Decision-maker(s) and parties to see and hear a party or witness answering questions. Such a request must be raised with the Title IX Coordinator at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing.
  • A list of all those who will attend the hearing, along with an invitation to object to any Decision-maker on the basis of demonstrated bias. This must be raised with the Title IX Coordinator at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
  • Information on how the hearing will be recorded and on access to the recording for the parties after the hearing.
  • A statement that if any party or witness does not appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearing may be held in their absence, and the party’s or witness’s testimony and any statements given prior to the hearing will not be considered by the Decision-maker(s). For compelling reasons, the Chair may reschedule the hearing. 
  • Notification that the parties may have the assistance of an Advisor of their choosing at the hearing and will be required to have one present for any questions they may desire to ask. The party must notify the Title IX Coordinator if they do not have an Advisor, and the College will appoint one. Each party must have an Advisor present. There are no exceptions. 
  • A copy of all the materials provided to the Decision-maker(s) about the matter, unless they have been provided already.
  • An invitation to each party to submit to the Chair an impact statement pre-hearing that the Decision-maker will review during any sanction determination.
  • An invitation to contact the Title IX Coordinator to arrange any disability accommodations, language assistance, and/or interpretation services that may be needed at the hearing, at least seven (7) business days prior to the hearing. 
  • Notice that the parties may not use mobile phones/devices into the hearing for any purpose.

Hearings for possible violations that occur near or after the end of an academic term (assuming the Respondent is still subject to this Policy) and are unable to be resolved prior to the end of term will typically be held immediately after the end of the term or during the summer, as needed, to meet the resolution timeline followed by the College and remain within the 60-90 business day goal for resolution. 

In these cases, if the Respondent is a graduating student, a hold may be placed on graduation and/or official transcripts until the matter is fully resolved (including any appeal). A student facing charges under this Policy is not in good standing to graduate. 

Alternative Hearing Participation Options 

If a party or parties prefer not to attend or cannot attend the hearing, the party should request alternative arrangements from the Title IX Coordinator or the Chair at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. 

The Title IX Coordinator or the Chair can arrange to use technology to allow remote testimony without compromising the fairness of the hearing. Remote options may also be needed for witnesses who cannot appear in person. Any witness who cannot attend in person should let the Title IX Coordinator or the Chair know at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing so that appropriate arrangements can be made. 

Pre-Hearing Preparation

The Chair, after any necessary consultation with the parties, Investigator(s) and/or Title IX Coordinator, will provide the names of persons who will be participating in the hearing, all pertinent documentary evidence, and the final investigation report to the parties at least ten (10) business days prior to the hearing. 

Any witness scheduled to participate in the hearing must have been first interviewed by the Investigator(s) unless all parties and the Chair assent to the witness’s participation in the hearing. The same holds for any evidence that is first offered at the hearing. If the parties and Chair do not assent to the admission of evidence newly offered at the hearing, the Chair will delay the hearing and instruct that the investigation needs to be re-opened to consider that evidence.

The parties will be given a list of the names of the Decision-maker(s) at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. All objections to any Decision-maker must be raised in writing, detailing the rationale for the objection, and must be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible and no later than one day prior to the hearing. Decision-makers will only be removed if the Title IX Coordinator concludes that their bias or conflict of interest precludes an impartial hearing of the allegation(s). 

The Title IX Coordinator will give the Decision-maker(s) a list of the names of all parties, witnesses, and Advisors at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. Any Decision-maker who cannot make an objective determination must recuse themselves from the proceedings when notified of the identity of the parties, witnesses, and Advisors in advance of the hearing. If a Decision-maker is unsure of whether a bias or conflict of interest exists, they must raise the concern to the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.

During the ten (10) business day period prior to the hearing, the parties have the opportunity for continued review and comment on the final investigation report and available evidence. That review and comment can be shared with the Chair at the pre-hearing meeting or at the hearing and will be exchanged between each party by the Chair. 

Pre-Hearing Meetings

The Chair may convene a pre-hearing meeting(s) with the parties and/or their Advisors to invite them to submit the questions or topics they (the parties and/or their Advisors) wish to ask or discuss at the hearing, so that the Chair can rule on their relevance ahead of time to avoid any improper evidentiary introduction in the hearing or provide recommendations for more appropriate phrasing. However, this advance review opportunity does not preclude the Advisors from asking at the hearing for a reconsideration based on any new information or testimony offered at the hearing. The Chair must document and share their rationale for any exclusion or inclusion at this pre-hearing meeting.

The Chair, only with full agreement of the parties, may decide in advance of the hearing that certain witnesses do not need to be present if their testimony can be adequately summarized by the Investigator(s) in the investigation report or during the hearing. 

At each pre-hearing meeting with a party and their Advisor, the Chair will consider arguments that evidence identified in the final investigation report as relevant is, in fact, not relevant. Similarly, evidence identified as directly related but not relevant by the Investigator(s) may be argued to be relevant. The Chair may rule on these arguments pre-hearing and will exchange those rulings between the parties prior to the hearing to assist in preparation for the hearing. The Chair may consult with legal counsel and/or the Title IX Coordinator, or ask either or both to attend pre-hearing meetings. The pre-hearing meeting(s) will not be recorded.

Hearing Procedures

At the hearing, the Decision-maker(s) has the authority to hear and make determinations on all allegations of Prohibited Conduct and may also hear and make determinations on any additional alleged policy violations that have occurred in concert with the Prohibited Conduct, even though those collateral allegations may not specifically fall within the Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy. 

Participants at the hearing will include the Chair, any additional Decision Makers, the hearing facilitator, the Investigator(s) who conducted the investigation, the parties, Advisors to the parties, any called witnesses, the Title IX Coordinator, and anyone providing authorized accommodations or assistive services.

The Chair will answer all questions of procedure. Anyone appearing at the hearing to provide information will respond to questions on their own behalf. The Chair will allow witnesses who have relevant information to appear at a portion of the hearing in order to respond to specific questions from the Decision-maker(s) and the parties and will then be excused. 

Joint Hearings

In hearings involving more than one Respondent or in which two (2) or more Complainants have accused the same individual of substantially similar conduct, the default procedure will be to hear the allegations jointly. However, the Title IX Coordinator may permit the investigation and/or hearings pertinent to each Respondent to be conducted separately if there is a compelling reason to do so. In joint hearings, separate determinations of responsibility will be made for each Respondent with respect to each alleged policy violation. 

The Order of the Hearing – Introductions and Explanation of Procedure

The Chair explains the procedures and introduces the participants. This may include a final opportunity for challenge or recusal of the Decision-maker(s) on the basis of bias or conflict of interest. The Chair will rule on any such challenge unless the Chair is the individual who is the subject of the challenge, in which case the Title IX Coordinator will review and decide the challenge. 

The Chair and/or hearing facilitator then conducts the hearing according to the hearing script. At the hearing, recording, witness logistics, party logistics, curation of documents, separation of the parties, and other administrative elements of the hearing process are managed by the Title IX Coordinator or by a non-voting hearing facilitator appointed by the Title IX Coordinator. The hearing facilitator may attend to: logistics of rooms for various parties/witnesses as they wait; flow of parties/witnesses in and out of the hearing space; ensuring recording and/or virtual conferencing technology is working as intended; copying and distributing materials to participants, as appropriate, etc.  

Investigator Presents the Final Investigation Report

The Investigator(s) will then present a summary of the final investigation report, including items that are contested and those that are not, and will be subject to questioning by the Decision-maker(s) and the parties (through their Advisors). The Investigator(s) will be present during the entire hearing process, but not during deliberations. 

Neither the parties nor the Decision-maker(s) should ask the Investigator(s) their opinions on credibility, recommended findings, or determinations, and the Investigators, Advisors, and parties will refrain from discussion of or questions about these assessments. If such information is introduced, the Chair will direct that it be disregarded.

Testimony and Questioning

Once the Investigator(s) present their report and are questioned, the parties and witnesses may provide relevant information in turn, beginning with the Complainant, and then in the order determined by the Chair. The parties/witnesses will submit to questioning by the Decision-maker(s) and then by the parties through their Advisors (“cross-examination”). 

All questions are subject to a relevance determination by the Chair. The Advisor, who will remain seated during questioning, will pose the proposed question orally, electronically, or in writing (orally is the default, but other means of submission may be permitted by the Chair upon request or agreed to by the parties and the Chair), the proceeding will pause to allow the Chair to consider it, and the Chair will determine whether the question will be permitted, disallowed, or rephrased. 

The Chair may explore arguments regarding relevance with the Advisors, if the Chair so chooses. The Chair will then state their decision on the question for the record and advise the party/witness to whom the question was directed, accordingly. The Chair will explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant, or to reframe it for relevance. 

The Chair will limit or disallow questions on the basis that they are irrelevant, unduly repetitious (and thus irrelevant), or abusive. The Chair has final say on all questions and determinations of relevance, subject to any appeal. The Chair may consult with legal counsel on any questions of admissibility. The Chair may ask advisors to frame why a question is or is not relevant from their perspective but will not entertain argument from the Advisors on relevance once the Chair has ruled on a question. 

If the parties raise an issue of bias or conflict of interest of an Investigator or Decision-maker at the hearing, the Chair may elect to address those issues, consult with legal counsel, and/or refer them to the Title IX Coordinator, and/or preserve them for appeal. If bias is not in issue at the hearing, the Chair should not permit irrelevant questions that probe for bias. 

Refusal to Submit to Cross-Examination and Inferences

If a party or witness chooses not to submit to cross-examination at the hearing, either because they do not attend the meeting, or they attend but refuse to participate in questioning, then the Decision-maker(s) may not rely on any prior statement made by that party or witness at the hearing (including those contained in the investigation report) in the ultimate determination of responsibility. The Decision-maker(s) must disregard that statement. Evidence provided that is something other than a statement by the party or witness may be considered.

If the party or witness attends the hearing and answers some cross-examination questions, only statements related to the cross-examination questions they refuse to answer cannot be relied upon. However, if the statements of the party who is refusing to submit to cross-examination or refuses to attend the hearing are the subject of the allegation itself (e.g., the case is about verbal harassment or a quid pro quo offer), then those statements are not precluded from admission. Similarly, statements can be relied upon when questions are posed by the Decision-maker(s), as distinguished from questions posed by Advisors through cross-examination.

The Decision-maker(s) may not draw any inference solely from a party’s or witness’s absence from the hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions. 

If charges of policy violations other than Prohibited Conduct are considered at the same hearing, the Decision-maker(s) may consider all evidence it deems relevant, may rely on any relevant statement as long as the opportunity for cross-examination is afforded to all parties through their Advisors, and may draw reasonable inferences from any decision by any party or witness not to participate or respond to questions.

If a party’s Advisor of choice refuses to comply with the Colleges’s established rules of decorum for the hearing, the College may require the party to use a different Advisor.

Recording Hearings

Hearings (but not deliberations) are recorded by the College for purposes of review in the event of an appeal only. The parties may not record the proceedings and no other unauthorized recordings are permitted. The Decision-maker(s), the parties, their Advisors, and appropriate administrators of the College will be permitted to listen to the recording in a controlled environment determined by the Title IX Coordinator. No person will be given or be allowed to make a copy of the recording without permission of the Title IX Coordinator or unless otherwise ordered by law or subpoena. 

Deliberation, Decision-making, and Standard of Proof

The Decision-maker(s) will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question. If a panel is used, a simple majority vote is required to determine the finding. The preponderance of evidence standard is used. The hearing facilitator may be invited to attend the deliberation by the Chair, but is there only to facilitate procedurally, not to address the substance of the allegations. 

When there is a finding of responsibility on one or more of the allegations, the Decision-maker(s) may then consider the previously submitted party impact statements in determining appropriate sanction(s). 

The Decision-maker(s) will review the statements and any pertinent conduct history provided by the College and will determine the appropriate sanction(s).  

The Chair will then prepare a written deliberation statement and deliver it to the Title IX Coordinator, detailing the determination, rationale, the evidence used in support of its determination, the evidence disregarded, credibility assessments, and any sanctions. This report must be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator within seven (7) business days of the conclusion of the hearing, unless the Title IX Coordinator grants an extension. If an extension is granted, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the parties. 

Notice of Outcome

Using the deliberation statement, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the Chair to prepare a Notice of Outcome. The Title IX Coordinator will then share the letter, including the final determination, rationale, and any applicable sanction(s) with the parties simultaneously and their Advisors within 3 business days of receiving the Decision-maker(s)’ deliberation statement.

Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official College records, or emailed to the parties’ College- issued email or otherwise approved account. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. 

The Notice of Outcome will identify the specific policy(ies) reported to have been violated, including the relevant policy section, and will contain a description of the procedural steps taken by the College from the receipt of the misconduct report to the determination, including any and all notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to obtain evidence, and hearings held. 

The Notice of Outcome will specify the finding on each alleged policy violation; the findings of fact that support the determination; conclusions regarding the application of the relevant policy to the facts at issue; a statement of, and rationale for, the result of each allegation to the extent the College is permitted to share such information under state or federal law; any sanctions issued which the College is permitted to share according to state or federal law; and any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to ensure access to the College’s educational or employment program or activity, to the extent the College is permitted to share such information under state or federal law (this detail is not typically shared with the Respondent unless the remedy directly relates to the Respondent). 

The Notice of Outcome will also include information on when the results are considered by the College to be final, any changes that occur prior to finalization, and the relevant procedures and bases for any available appeal options. 

Sanctions

Factors considered when determining a sanction/responsive action may include, but are not limited to: 

  • The nature, severity of, and circumstances surrounding the violation(s) 
  • The Respondent’s disciplinary history 
  • Previous allegations or allegations involving similar conduct 
  • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to bring an end to the Prohibited Conduct
  • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to prevent the future recurrence of Prohibited Conduct
  • The need to remedy the effects of the Prohibited Conduct on the Complainant and the community
  • The impact on the parties
  • Any other information deemed relevant by the Decision-maker(s)

The sanctions will be implemented as soon as is feasible, either upon the outcome of any appeal or the expiration of the window to appeal without an appeal being requested. 

The sanctions described in this policy are not exclusive of, and may be in addition to, other actions taken or sanctions imposed by external authorities. 

Previous disciplinary action of any kind involving the Respondent may be considered in determining an appropriate sanction upon a determination of responsibility. This information is only considered at the sanction stage of the process. The parties may each submit a written impact statement prior to the hearing for the consideration of the Decision-maker(s) at the sanction stage of the process when a determination of responsibility is reached.

a. Student Sanctions

The following are the usual sanctions that may be imposed upon students or organizations: 

  • Warning: A formal statement that the conduct was unacceptable and a warning that further violation of any College policy, procedure, or directive will result in more severe sanctions/responsive actions. 
  • Housing: Housing related sanctions may include room relocation, housing probation or loss of on campus housing privileges.
  • Educational Project: A specific project deemed appointed by the Decision Makers intended to help the Respondent deepen their understanding of a concept related to the Policy violation such as consent, healthy relationships or substance use. The Decision makers will determine the parameters of the project and the deadline for its completion. The Decision makers will also determine if the submitted project is sufficient to meet the terms of the assigned sanction. 
  • Probation: A written reprimand for violation of institutional policy. Terms of the probation will be articulated and may include denial of specified social privileges, exclusion from co-curricular activities, removal from leadership positions, exclusion from designated areas of campus, no-contact orders, and/or other measures deemed appropriate. 
  • Suspension: Termination of student status for a definite period of time not to exceed two years and/or until specific criteria are met. Students who return from suspension are automatically placed on probation through the remainder of their tenure as a student at the College. 
  • Expulsion: Permanent termination of student status and revocation of rights to be on campus for any reason or to attend College-sponsored events. This sanction will be noted permanently as a Conduct Expulsion on the student’s official transcript. 
  • Withholding Diploma: The College may withhold a student’s diploma for a specified period of time and/or deny a student participation in commencement activities if the student has an allegation pending or as a sanction if the student is found responsible for an alleged violation. 
  • Revocation of Degree: The College reserves the right to revoke a degree previously awarded from the College for fraud, misrepresentation, and/or other violation of College policies, procedures, or directives in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to graduation. 
  • Organizational Sanctions: Deactivation, loss of recognition, loss of some or all privileges for a specified period of time.
  • Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions, the College may assign any other sanctions as deemed appropriate.

b. Employee Sanctions

Responsive actions for an employee who has engaged in harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation include: 

  • Warning – Verbal or Written
  • Performance Improvement/Management Process
  • Required Training or Education
  • Probation
  • Loss of Annual Pay Increase
  • Loss of Oversight or Supervisory Responsibility
  • Demotion
  • Suspension with pay
  • Suspension without pay 
  • Termination 
  • Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions, the College may assign any other sanctions as deemed appropriate.

Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges Pending 

Students

If a student has an allegation pending for violation of the Policy on Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct, the College may place a hold on a student’s ability to graduate and/or to receive an official transcript/diploma. 

Should a student decide to not participate in the resolution process, the process proceeds absent their participation to a reasonable resolution. Should a student Respondent permanently withdraw from Mount Holyoke the resolution process ends, as the College no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the withdrawn student. 

However, the College will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues, variables that may have contributed to the alleged violation(s), and any ongoing effects of the alleged harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation. The student who withdraws or leaves while the process is pending may not return to the College. A hold will be placed on their ability to be readmitted. They may also be barred from College property and/or events. 

If the student Respondent only withdraws or takes a leave for a specified period of time (e.g., one semester or term), the resolution process may continue remotely and that student is not permitted to return unless and until all sanctions have been satisfied. During the resolution process, the College may put a hold on a responding student’s transcript or place a notation on a responding student’s transcript or dean’s disciplinary certification that a disciplinary matter is pending. 

Employees

Should an employee Respondent resign with unresolved allegations pending, the resolution process ends, as the College no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the resigned employee. They may also be barred from College property and/or events.

However, the College will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues, variables that contributed to the alleged violation(s), and any ongoing effects of the alleged harassment or discrimination. 

The employee who resigns with unresolved allegations pending is not eligible for rehire with Mount Holyoke and the records retained by the Title IX Coordinator will reflect that status. All College responses to future inquiries regarding employment references for that individual will include that the former employee resigned during a pending disciplinary matter.

Appeals

Any party may file a request for appeal (“Request for Appeal”), but it must be submitted in writing to the Title IX Coordinator within 5 days of the delivery of the Notice of Outcome. 

An Appeal Decision-maker will be assigned based on the role of the Respondent. Appeal Decision Maker will have been involved in the process previously. The Request for Appeal will be forwarded to the Appeal Decision-maker for consideration to determine if the request meets the grounds for appeal (a Review for Standing). 

This review is not a review of the merits of the appeal, but solely a determination as to whether the request meets the grounds and is timely filed. 

    a. Grounds for Appeal

Appeals are limited to the following grounds:

  1. Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
  2. New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter; and
  3. The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator(s), or Decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the specific Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.

If any of the grounds in the Request for Appeal do not meet the grounds in this Policy, that request will be denied by Appeal Decision-maker and the parties and their Advisors will be notified in writing of the denial and the rationale. 

If any of the grounds in the Request for Appeal meet the grounds in this Policy, then the Appeal Decision-maker will notify the other party(ies) and their Advisors, the Title IX Coordinator, and, when appropriate, the Investigators and/or the original Decision maker(s). 

The other party(ies) and their Advisors, the Title IX Coordinator, and, when appropriate, the Investigators and/or the original Decision-maker(s) will be mailed, emailed, and/or provided a hard copy of the request with the approved grounds and then be given 5 business days to submit a response to the portion of the appeal that was approved and involves them. 

Neither party may submit any new requests for appeal after this time period. The Appeal Decision Maker will collect any additional information needed and all documentation regarding the approved grounds and the subsequent responses will render a decision in no more than 7 business days, barring exigent circumstances. 

A Notice of Appeal Outcome will be sent to all parties simultaneously including the decision on each approved ground and rationale for each decision. The Notice of Appeal Outcome will specify the finding on each ground for appeal, any specific instructions for remand or reconsideration, any sanctions that may result which the College is permitted to share according to state or federal law, and the rationale supporting the essential findings to the extent the College is permitted to share under state or federal law. 

Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official institutional records, or emailed to the parties’ College-issued email or otherwise approved account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. 

    b. Sanctions Status During the Appeal

Any sanctions imposed as a result of the hearing are stayed during the appeal process. Supportive measures may be reinstated, subject to the same supportive measure procedures above. If any of the sanctions are to be implemented immediately post-hearing, then emergency removal procedures (detailed above) for a hearing on the justification for doing so must be permitted within 48 hours of implementation. 

The College may still place holds on official transcripts, diplomas, graduations, and course registration pending the outcome of an appeal when the original sanctions included separation. 

    c. Appeal Considerations

  • Decisions on appeal are to be deferential to the original decision, making changes to the finding only when there is clear error and to the sanction(s)/responsive action(s) only if there is a compelling justification to do so.
  • Appeals are not intended to provide for a full re-hearing (de novo) of the allegation(s). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing and pertinent documentation regarding the specific grounds for appeal. 
  • An appeal is not an opportunity for Appeal Decision-maker to substitute their judgment for that of the original Decision-maker(s) merely because they disagree with the finding and/or sanction(s). 
  • The Appeal Decision-maker may consult with the Title IX Coordinator on questions of procedure or rationale, for clarification, if needed. Documentation of all such consultation will be maintained.
  • Appeals granted based on new evidence should normally be remanded to the original Investigator(s) and/or Decision-maker(s) for reconsideration. Other appeals may be remanded at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator or, in limited circumstances, decided on appeal.
  • Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final: further appeals are not permitted, even if a decision or sanction is changed on remand.
  • In rare cases where a procedural error cannot be cured by the original Decision-maker(s) (as in cases of bias), the appeal may order a new hearing with a new Decision-maker(s). 
  • The results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on any of the three available appeal grounds. 
  • In cases in which the appeal results in reinstatement to the College or resumption of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the Respondent to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irreparable in the short term.

Long-Term Remedies/Other Actions

Following the conclusion of the resolution process, and in addition to any sanctions implemented, the Title IX Coordinator may implement additional long-term remedies or actions with respect to the parties and/or the campus community that are intended to stop the Prohibited Conduct, remedy the effects, and prevent reoccurrence. 

These remedies/actions may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Referral to counseling and health services
  • Referral to the Employee Assistance Program 
  • Education to the individual and/or the community 
  • Permanent alteration of housing assignments
  • Permanent alteration of work arrangements for employees
  • Provision of campus safety escorts
  • Climate surveys
  • Policy modification and/or training
  • Provision of transportation accommodations 
  • Implementation of long-term contact limitations between the parties
  • Implementation of adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc. 

At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, certain long-term support or measures may also be provided to the parties even if no policy violation is found. 

When no policy violation is found, the Title IX Coordinator will address any remedies owed by the College to the Respondent to ensure no effective denial of educational access.

The College will maintain the privacy of any long-term remedies/actions/measures, provided privacy does not impair the College’s ability to provide these services. 

Failure to Comply with Sanctions and/or Interim and Long-term Remedies and/or Responsive Actions

All Respondents are expected to comply with the assigned sanctions, responsive actions, and/or corrective actions within the timeframe specified by the final Decision-maker(s) (including the Appeal Decision-makers).

Failure to abide by the sanction(s)/action(s) imposed by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect, or any other reason, may result in additional sanction(s)/action(s), including suspension, expulsion, and/or termination from the College and may be noted on a student’s official transcript. 

A suspension will only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the Title IX Coordinator.  

Recordkeeping 

Mount Holyoke College will maintain for a period of seven years records of:

  1. Each Gender-Based and Sexual Misconductinvestigation including any determination regarding responsibility and any audio or audiovisual recording or transcript required under federal regulation;
  2. Any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the Respondent; 
  3. Any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to restore or preserve equal access to the College’s education program or activity;
  4. Any appeal and the result therefrom;
  5. Any Alternative Resolution and the result therefrom; 
  6. All materials used to train Title IX Coordinators, Investigators, Decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an Alternative Resolution process. The College will make these training materials publicly available on the Mount Holyoke College website; and
  7. Any actions, including any supportive measures, taken in response to a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, including:
  1. The basis for all conclusions that the response was not deliberately indifferent; 
  2. Any measures designed to restore or preserve equal access to the College’s education program or activity; and 
  3. If no supportive measures were provided to the Complainant, document the reasons why such a response was not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.

Disabilities Accommodations in the Resolution Process

Mount Holyoke College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and support to qualified students, employees, or others with disabilities to ensure equal access to the College’s resolution process. 

Anyone needing such accommodations or support should contact the Office of AccessAbility Services for students or Human Resources for employees, who will review the request and, in consultation with the person requesting the accommodation and the Title IX Coordinator, determine which accommodations are appropriate and necessary for full participation in the process. 

If any participant involved in any process under this policy is already registered with Human Resources or the Office of AccessAbility and has previously been approved for accommodations, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the individual to apply those accommodations to this process where applicable at the parties request. 

Revision of this Policy and Procedures

This Policy and procedures supersede any previous policy(ies) addressing harassment, sexual misconduct, discrimination, and/or retaliation and will be reviewed and updated annually by the Title IX Coordinator. The College reserves the right to make changes to this document as necessary, and once those changes are posted online, they are in effect. 

During the resolution process, the Title IX Coordinator may make minor modifications to procedures that do not materially jeopardize the fairness owed to any party, such as to accommodate summer schedules. The Title IX Coordinator may also vary procedures materially with notice (on the institutional website, with the appropriate effective date identified) upon determining that changes to law or regulation require policy or procedural alterations not reflected in this Policy and procedures. 

If government laws or regulations change – or court decisions alter – the requirements in a way that impacts this document, this document will be construed to comply with the most recent government regulations or holdings. 

This document does not create legally enforceable protections beyond the protection of the background state and federal laws which frame such policies and codes, generally.