Title IX Frequently Asked Questions
Compiled and published in Summer 2015 by student leaders, the Title IX Office, and Student Affairs
How do I decide whether to make a report or file a complaint? What’s the difference?
The decision to report an incident of sexual assault or file a formal complaint is a complicated and deeply personal decision. No matter what decision you make, know that you will be offered the emotional and academic support necessary to help you through this process. You have control over your experience and will be supported in maintaining that control. However, if there is a perceived threat of imminent danger to the campus community or if the subject of the report has also been the subject of reports or complaints by other individuals in other instances, the Title IX Coordinator may go forward with a college-initiated complaint, at which point all parties would be notified.
You can choose to report an incident of sexual assault without filing a formal complaint. Making a report simply alerts the college that an incident took place and helps you access support resources you might need. When making a report, you can give an initial statement to an investigator and not do anything else, or you can move forward with the conduct process at any point during your time as a student. Filing a formal complaint indicates your desire for the incident to be further investigated and to pursue campus conduct charges against the other party.
Unless you specifically indicate your desire to make a formal complaint against a specific party, a report will simply remain a report.
Who do I go to if I want to make a report or file a complaint?
You can report any sexual misconduct concern to the Title IX Coordinator who will work with the appropriate Senior Official to determine next steps.
Or, you can go directly to the Senior Official for the category of the Respondent. For example, if your complaint is against a student, you can report to the Dean of Students. If your complaint is against a faculty member, you can report to the Dean of the College. If your complaint is against a staff member, you can talk to Assistant Vice President of Human Resources. Any complaint triggers an investigation by the Senior Official to determine if the alleged conduct meets the definition of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Can a report be anonymous?
Yes, a report can be made anonymously and forwarded anonymously to college administrators through EthicsPoint.
Who might have access to my initial report?
There are persons who must consult with each other in order to make a determination of whether imminent danger exists or whether there is a pattern of misconduct based on the same alleged respondent having been implicated in other reports. Only those persons who need to know will know initially and anyone who knows will maintain the privacy of the complainant. Other parties may be contacted, but only if they need to be involved to help you. For example, if you need to change rooms, the Director of Residence Life will be contacted to help facilitate the change but given no details around the incident.
If you decide to make a complaint and file campus conduct charges, other persons will have information about your case, such as the investigators and adjudicator.
What are my emotional support sources while making these decisions?
While deciding whether to report an incident, file a formal complaint, or simply to manage the effects of a sexual assault, you always have access to an array of on- and off-campus resources that are strictly confidential (meaning, they won’t share anything without your permission unless they professionally deem you are an imminent threat to yourself or others). Confidential on-campus resources include the counselors at SHACS (641-269-3230), the Chaplains in the CRSSJ (641-269-4981), the Grinnell Advocates (641-260-1615), and the Ombudsperson (641-269-9399).
Confidential off-campus resources include Crisis Intervention Services (1-800-270-1620) and the Crisis Center and Women’s Center and several culturally specific resources. All of these resources are confidential which means that you can share your experience with them without having to make a report.
More more information on confidential support, please see Support Resources.
Does someone need to make a report or file a complaint before they can seek academic accommodations, or are there people in the Academic Advising office who they can simply reach out to?
It’s important to clarify the difference between academic accommodations, which are afforded to students with disabilities when applicable, and interim remedies, which are afforded to students who have experienced sexual misconduct.
Remedies that relate to academic work, campus jobs, and residence halls, etc. are available to anyone that comes forward to the Title IX Coordinator to seek resources and make a report. An individual does not have to file a formal complaint (i.e. file conduct charges) to receive these remedies. The Title IX Coordinator will reach out to Academic Advising, professors, employers, and residence life staff if you request it and with your permission.
You may need to talk with someone to help you consider the options that will allow you to successfully continue your academic career. Sometimes survivors decide that they need to reduce their course load or withdraw in order to be successful in the future. You can talk with Academic Advising if you are considering these choices. Academic remedies that can be advocated for by the Title IX Coordinator include a change in class schedule, rescheduling exams or assignments, alternative course completion options, leaves, academic support services, or any other remedy that can be reasonably tailored to meet the needs of the student.
For more information, please see Interim Remedies.
What kind of social support will there be available for me?
While deciding whether to make a report or file a formal complaint, you have access to an array of social support including but not limited to: the Title IX Coordinator, your Community Advisor (CA), your Residence Life Coordinator (RLC), the Case Manager, coaches, trusted advisers, etc. Don’t forget the confidential resources listed above. Remember, your experience is your own and you should feel empowered to share your story with as many or as few parties as you feel necessary in order to gain the support that you need. Other social remedies that might help you navigate your sexual assault experience include changing a work schedule, housing accommodations, requesting an escort, taking a voluntary leave of absence, etc.
How do I talk to others about my experience?
Discussing a sexual assault with roommates, friends, family, or a significant other can be difficult. And, if you are considering whether to file campus conduct charges or criminal charges, this can be even more complicated. For some, it’s a very big decision to come forward, but it can be an important step in healing and/or providing social support which can be instrumental in your process of self-care. Confidential resources can be very helpful in thinking through how and when to talk about the experience.
The Title IX Resource Card was created by the Title IX office that reminds you of resources on- and off-campus. These websites may also help as you make the decision to reach out.
What are the health resources available to me immediately after an assault?
If you are in immediate danger or need immediate medical attention, please dial 911.
Should you require medical attention following an attack, you have the right to free medical care at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. You have access to free medical treatment, a free rape kit, and free STI testing. To get to GRMC to seek treatment, you can call 911 or Campus Safety at 641-269-4600. Please know that you can ask for a confidential advocate (a trained student OR a professional staff member) to join you at the hospital.
If you dial SHACS after hours (641-236-3230) you can reach an on-call nurse or an on-call counselor.
What happens financially and academically if I choose to take a leave of absence due to a sexual assault?
This is difficult to say, as every student’s academic history and personal financial situation are different. It even depends based upon how much of the semester has passed. Generally speaking, this is decided on a case-by-case basis and the Title IX Coordinator can help you navigate all of your options.
How long can I expect an investigation to take?
The College aims to resolve all complaints within 60 calendar days (approximately 8 weeks), including investigation. The process may be extended due to extenuating circumstances of a case in order to ensure a thorough and fair process.
How long can I expect the entire process to take?
The College seeks to resolve all formal complaints of sexual misconduct within 60 calendar days of the initial complaint. This can be difficult given the complicated nature of cases, which might include circumstances such as having multiple witnesses and parties with limited availability, the impact of a concurrent criminal investigation, intervening school breaks or vacations, and/or other unforeseen circumstances. The college will make every effort to resolve complaints in the 60 day period and will keep you informed along the way. Appeals may add up to 20 additional business days to the final resolution of a case.
What are the steps involved in the investigation stage?
The Senior Official determines whether the complaint meets the threshold for investigation, based on whether the alleged action meets the definition of sexual discrimination or sexual harassment (which includes all forms of sexual misconduct, including stalking, unwanted touching, relationship abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, gender-based harassment, and retaliation)
If the threshold is not met, the Complainant may appeal the decision to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs (when the Respondent is a student). If the Respondent is a faculty member, the Complainant may appeal the decision to the President, and if the Respondent is a staff member, the Complainant may appeal the decision to the Vice President for Finance.
If the threshold is met:
- The Complainant is notified as to when the Respondent will be contacted.
- The Respondent is notified of the investigation by the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) and Senior Official (or designee).
- The Respondent will receive notice from the investigator within 5 business days for a meeting to give a statement, verbally or in writing, in response to the complaint. Failure of the Respondent to participate or respond will not delay the process.
- The investigation continues with interviews of witnesses, the collection of evidence (including any electronic communication records between the parties) and any necessary follow-up.
- The Dean of Students schedules adjudication meetings.
- A Draft Investigative Report is written that includes all interview summaries, any statements written, evidence, and transcripts of interviews.
- The Complainant and Respondent are each given 5 business days to review and respond to the Draft Investigative Report which includes all of the evidence that will be used in the adjudication meetings.
- These responses are compiled into the Final Investigative Report and distributed to the Complainant, Respondent, and Adjudicator.
If my case meets the threshold, who will investigate my conduct case?
A Title IX investigation is not a police investigation, although, if there is a separate police investigation, the police will follow their process. The college has a duty and will investigate the case from an educational perspective. The college will engage outside investigators and Campus Safety, as needed.
If my case meets the threshold, who will adjudicate my conduct case?
Cases of sexual assault (where the Respondent is a student) may be decided by an outside adjudicator or the Dean of Students. The adjudicator will be responsible for reviewing all materials that are germane to your case as well as speaking independently to both parties. Upon completing the hearing and considering the facts and circumstances, the outside adjudicator will write a Case Opinion and submit it to the Dean of Students within 5 business days of the last meeting. Then, within 2 business days, the Dean of Students will send a Notice of Outcome to both parties (which includes the findings of responsibility, rationale, and educational outcomes). Appeals are to be submitted to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs within 5 business days of the receipt of the Notice of Outcome.
How is my privacy protected and handled during the investigation?
Your privacy, including your identity, is protected by college policy as well as local, state, and federal laws. No persons without cause for access to any materials will have access. Only those who are directly involved with the case will know about your case, including the Complainant, Respondent, investigator, adjudicator, Title IX Coordinator, Campus Safety, Dean of Students and/or designee, and/or your chosen support person. All parties involved in the adjudication process are required to keep the information learned in preparation for the case and at any meetings confidential. No copies of documents provided, such as investigative reports, are to be made or to be shared with parties external to the investigation.
What are my rights throughout the investigative stage?
As a Complainant or Respondent you have the right to:
- Protection from any form of retaliation
- A support person of your choosing
The support person does not have to be affiliated with the college, but you are encouraged to have a college-affiliated support with knowledge of the Grinnell conduct system. The Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students can supply you with a list of trained and vetted support persons. Witnesses to an incident are not allowed to also serve as a support person. You are entitled to bring one support person to all meetings will College staff, all investigation interviews, and the adjudication meeting. You may choose change your support person during the process. However, your support person cannot participate or represent you in the adjudication meeting. The college reserves the right to dismiss a support person who is disruptive or does not abide by the restrictions set forth in our policy.
For more information on your rights, please see the OCR: Know Your Rights.
Who are the people and parties involved in the investigation process?
Those involved with the investigation include:
- Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator for Case Management
- Senior Official (depends on the Respondent’s status at the College, i.e. Dean of Students, Director of Human Resources, Dean of the College)
- Campus Safety Officers
- External Investigators
- External Adjudicator
- Support Persons to Complainant and Respondent
How long do I have to respond to the investigative report once I have received it?
After the investigation process, both parties are given a copy of the Draft Investigative Report, after which they have 5 business days to respond. Both the Complainant and Respondent have the right to support persons.
What is the timeframe in which I can bring forth an investigation?
Complainants and third party witnesses are encouraged to report allegations of sexual assault as soon as possible in order to maximize the College’s ability to respond promptly and effectively. The College does not, however, limit the timeframe for reporting. If the Respondent is no longer a student or employee, the College will still seek to meet its Title IX obligation by taking steps to end the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
What protections do I have as a student going through the adjudication process?
The college is legally obligated to keep the details about the case private. You can obtain a no-contact order; see About Sexual Misconduct on the Sexual Respect site for information about that process. All parties will be reminded that retaliation is prohibited, and you are encouraged to report all incidents of retaliation.
What resources do I have as a student going through the adjudication process?
See the following list of resources, but the most up-to-date list of resources can always be found on the Support Resources page of the Sexual Respect site.
On-Campus Confidential Resources: Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain, Associate Chaplain and Rabbi, nurses and counselors at Student Health & Counseling Services, Grinnell College Ombuds, Grinnell College Campus Advocates.
Off-Campus Confidential Resources: Crisis Intervention Services, Crisis Center and Women’s Shelter, Grinnell Regional Medical Center
Non-Confidential Campus Resources: Title IX Coordinator, Dean of the College, Director of Human Resources, Dean of Students, Director of Campus Safety and Security, Grinnell College Security
All College employees, including student employees or volunteers, are required to report to a College resource. The only exception are those with statutorily-protected confidentiality.
Anonymous Resources: EthicsPoint
Community Resources: Grinnell Police Department, Grinnell Regional Medical Center, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Central Iowa Family Planning, Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services, RELAY IOWA, Crime Victim Compensation Program, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
What are some of the outcomes of the adjudication process?
Each case will have a set of tailored outcomes based upon the adjudicator’s assessment of the case. Generally speaking, a finding of responsibility for non-consensual sexual intercourse would lead to outcomes that may range from suspension to dismissal, and a finding of responsibility for non-consensual sexual contact could range more widely from a conduct warning to dismissal and anything in between. Previous outcomes have included: continuing or enacting a no-contact order; conduct warning; conduct probation; college-owned residence suspension; college-owned residence dismissal; suspension; dismissal; withholding of registration or degree. Additional and alternative outcomes may also be considered and implemented.
Conduct charges have been filed against me; what do I do?
You are now a Respondent in a case. This can be a scary and challenging time. You have access to the same on and off-campus resources available to the Complainant, such as:
On-Campus Confidential Resources: Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain, Associate Chaplain and Rabbi, Director of Student Health & Counseling Services, Grinnell College Ombuds, Grinnell College Campus Advocates.
Non-confidential Campus Resources: Title IX Coordinator, Dean of the College, Director of Human Resources, Dean of Students, Director of Campus Safety and Security
Off-Campus Confidential Resources: Crisis Intervention Services, Crisis Center and Women’s Shelter
Anonymous Resources: EthicsPoint
You will be contacted by the Dean of Students who will walk you through the process and resources available to you. You will have 5 business days from the time you are notified to be interviewed in response to the Complainant. If you do not provide a response, the complaint is validated and the college will move forward with the rest of the investigation. While you are not required to participate, you are encouraged to do so.
As a Respondent, you – just like the Complainant – always have the right to have a support person present at any meetings, investigative interviews, and adjudication meetings. The Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students can provide you with a list if no one comes to mind.
Like the Complainant, you will be notified and kept up-to-date with where the process is going, the charges will be explained to you, you will name witnesses and submit evidence, you will review and respond to the Draft Investigative Report, you will meet with the adjudicator, and you have the right to appeal an outcome under the published grounds.
Why was the Respondent in my case allowed to remain on campus?
Outcomes are made on a case-by-case basis. Cases are adjudicated externally through a party not affiliated with the college. The adjudicator reviews all investigative materials, including but not limited to statements from the Complainant and Respondent, then makes an evidence-based decision and recommends appropriate outcomes.
It can be difficult to coexist with another when you’ve experienced something so negative, which is why the Title IX Coordinator will offer you remedies to help you navigate our small, residential campus if your Respondent is still on campus.
What constitutes retaliation, and what doesn’t? Does it cover behavior by third parties?
Retaliation refers to acts or attempts to seek retribution against a Complainant, Respondent, witness, or any individual or groups of individuals involved in or after participation in the investigation and/or resolution of an allegation of sexual misconduct. Retaliation can be committed by any individual or group of individuals, not just by a Respondent or Complainant. Retaliation can take many forms, including continued abuse or violence, other forms of harassment, slander, or libel. Retaliation is prohibited at Grinnell College.
Retaliation is not: talking to a confidential resource, seeking help from an adviser, requesting accommodations, discussing your experience privately with close friends, etc. The College’s retaliation policy applies to Respondents, Complainants, witnesses, and third parties.
What do you do if you see retaliation?
If you see retaliation, you can report it to the Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Students or Campus Safety and Security. Everyone has a responsibility to abide by the policy against retaliation and report violations if they see it occurring.
What is a no-contact order?
The two individuals are not allowed to directly contact each other. Each of the individuals meets with the Dean of Students or designee to discuss the expectations within the No-Contact Order policy. Each individual will sign the form. At times, an outcome of a conduct case will involve the issuing or continance of a No-Contact Order. When there is a finding of responsibility, the burden of following the expectations within the No-Contact Order falls on the Respondent.
For more information, please see Grinnell College No-Contact Order.
When/how can I initiate getting a no-contact order?
To obtain a no-contact order, you can go to Campus Safety and Security, the Dean of Students, or the Title IX Coordinator depending on the timing of your request. You must give a short statement to help the College staff understand the nature of your request. The Dean of Students will review that statement and determine if the threshold is met for the issuance of the no-contact order. If it’s met, the Dean of Students will meet with each of you separately to announce that the College has issued a no-contact order. This is not an establishment of guilt, responsibility, or even that a conduct process is forthcoming. Until or unless a finding of responsibility happens through the conduct process, a no-contact order is mutual and you both must abide by it. You can obtain a no-contact order at anytime—before, during, or after the process.
How long can I expect the adjudication process to take?
In general, the College seeks to complete the adjudication of all incidents of sexual assault within 60 calendar days. Sexual assault cases are often complex and might require a longer time frame. Appeals can add additional time (approximately 20 business days) beyond 60 calendar days.
Who can I talk to if I believe that an administrative part of my case is being mishandled, or if I feel there is a conflict of interest with one of the staff involved in my case?
If you have concerns about how your case is being handled by the investigator, adjudicator, or other College officials, you can talk to the Title IX Coordinator, Dean of the College, Assoc. Vice President for Student Affairs or the Vice President for Finance (who oversees Human Resources). If you have concerns that cannot be discussed with the Title IX Coordinator (or if they are the source of your concerns) you can talk to the Grinnell College Ombuds or another administrator that you trust. You can also submit an anonymous claim on EthicsPoint with your concerns. Using any of these platforms raises issues and oversights with the proper parties to ensure their resolution.
You may also file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
Who will have access to my information during the adjudication process? Who needs to know about my situation?
Only those persons who must consult with each other to make the determination of whether there is a threat to the campus community or whether there is a pattern of misconduct, based on the same alleged perpetrator having been implicated by other reporters. These are the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Campus Safety and Security, and the Dean of Students. Other parties will be contacted, only if they need to be involved to help you. For example, if you need to change rooms, the Director of Residence Life will be contacted.
Can I have a lawyer?
Yes, you can have a lawyer present throughout your case. The lawyer is allowed to accompany you to all meetings that pertain to your case. However, they are not allowed to delay, disrupt, or interfere with any meeting or proceeding. They are also required to meet with the Dean of Students (or designee) in advance of the adjudication so that they can understand their role in the case.
How many support people can I have in the adjudication with me?
You are allowed to have one at every meeting, but it does not need to be the same person at every meeting. Your support person can help you understand the adjudication procedure, review your documents, provide emotional support etc. Your support person can be anyone you choose including a faculty or staff member, student, lawyer, parent, etc.
When I make a complaint, what are some of the charges that I can bring forth?
Charges are not decided by the Complainant. After you are interviewed by the investigator, they will review the incident summary for all potential campus policy violations, including sexual misconduct, by the Respondent. Then, charges will be filed accordingly. The Dean of Students has final discretion over what charges are filed.
What is the difference between the on campus process and going to the police?
You can always go to the police, even if you go through the conduct process on campus. There are certain differences between seeking resolution through the police and through the campus process. The campus process is an educational process that is not legally binding because it is not a court of law. Your records are private and protected and you have access to certain accommodations that relate to your educational experience, which the police cannot offer. However, the police can offer a higher level of protective order that is court issued, unlike our campus no-contact orders. Going to the police is the first step in a criminal case. The College has no jurisdiction over the police, how they keep their records or conduct their investigations. However, outcomes of a police investigation and criminal case are legally binding in a court of law.
Can I still go to the police even if I want an on campus investigation?
Yes, the police are always offered as a resource to you. You can choose to go through both channels, or one, or neither.
What is the preponderance of evidence standard?
In an on-campus investigation, the preponderance of evidence standard means that the adjudicator will decide whether it is “more likely than not,” based upon the information provided through the investigation and at the adjudication meeting(s), that the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the alleged policy violation(s). This differs from a criminal standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. While you are free to use whatever language you want to describe your experience and your complaint, the College’s record will not reflect the terms “guilty” or “not-guilty” as it is not a criminal investigation.
Do I ever have to directly interact with the other party?
No, you will never be expected to speak to the other person involved in the process. During the investigation process you will each participate separately in the process.
Am I allowed to know who the other person’s support person is?
No, and they do not have a right to know who you choose as a support person. The College works to protect the privacy of each party.
What role does the Title IX Coordinator play in my adjudication process?
The Title IX Coordinator oversees all Title IX cases. The Title IX Coordinator does not play an active role in adjudication other than to consult with the external adjudicator and Senior Official, as needed. The primary role of the Title IX Coordinator is to ensure that your rights are met under Title IX and that you have access to the resources and remedies available to you.
Who will know that I’m going through a conduct case?
The need-to-know includes all people whose responsibilities and jobs are directly related to giving you the resources that you need. The Title IX Coordinator will communicate with these individuals on your behalf to implement the needed accommodations and remedies. Here are a few examples:
- If you need to move your room, then the Director of Residence Life and your RLC will need to know in order to make that change, but they won’t know the details of your case.
- If you need academic remedies, the Dean for Student Success and Academic Advising will need to know, as will the faculty for the classes this might apply to.
- The Registrar might need to know if you need to drop or change a class.
None of these individuals learn details about the case; they would know the least amount of information necessary for them to give you the resources that you need.
What is the appeal process?
The Notice of Outcome sent by the Dean of Students will include instructions if you are considering an appeal. Within 5 business days of the Notice of Outcome being sent, the Complainant and/or Respondent can appeal the decision if:
1) new evidence arises or
2) procedural errors occur that may have had a material effect on the case results.
Be advised that disliking the outcome of the case is not grounds for appeal.
The appeal must consist of a simple written statement outlining your reasons for appeal.
The appellate (i.e. the Senior Official listed below) will review the statement and will respond within 5 business days to the appealing party in one of two ways:
1) The appeal will be rejected outright for not meeting the grounds for appeal. This decision is final.
2) They will accept the appeal for review because it could potentially meet the grounds for appeal. This does not mean the appeal is automatically granted; it means it has potential and will be reviewed. In this case, the other party will be notified of the appeal and given 5 business days to respond.
The appeal officer will notify both parties of their decision within 10 business days of the response from the opposing party(ies). This decision is final.
To whom should the appeal be sent?
When the respondent is another student, the appeal should go to the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.
When the respondent is a faculty member, the appeal should go to the President.
When the respondent is a staff member, the appeal should go to the Vice President for Finance.
If the individual designated for an appeal has been involved in the conduct at issue in the complaint/grievance, or if the individual was consulted about the conduct at issue in the complaint/grievance, then the President will direct the appeal to another Senior Official.
How many appeals do I get?
There is only one opportunity for appeal in a given case (one cannot appeal an appeal decision once finalized by the appeal officer).
How long will it take for me to know if my appeal has been successful?
The process, from receiving the Notice of Outcome up through the review of the appeal, the response period for the opposing party, and the decision-making time, will take 20 business days.
Who do reports go to? Who is adjudicating these cases? Is there any overlap?
The reports go to the Title IX Coordinator. Details around location, time, and nature of an incident must go to Campus Safety for Clery reporting (a federal law related to publishing the statistics of reported crimes). No names are given in the Clery reporting process if no imminent danger or threat exists. Other parties might be involved as needed (e.g. the Dean of Students might have to be involved in creating interim remedies, the Registrar might help with class changes, a professor might be involved if requested by the Complainant or Respondent, etc.). There is an external adjudicator who will adjudicate any formal conduct process. Please know that any indivusual or office involved will maintain the privacy of those involved in a case.
What support / training does my support person have?
The Complainant and the Respondent can choose any person to support them, including an attorney. Depending on who you choose, this person could have varying levels of experience with supporting you in the conduct process. Should you choose to use a Grinnell Advocate, know that they get many hours of training and are confidential resources.
Up to what point in the process can I change my mind about going forward with conduct charges?
You may withdraw your decision to move forward or participate at any point before the adjudication meeting takes place.