Title IX Frequently Asked Questions for Students
Compiled and published 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 experience of prohibited behavior (sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner abuse, or stalking) 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. There is no requirement to pursue any formal action in order to access the supportive measures available.
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 and Senior Official may go forward with a college-initiated investigation. All parties will be notified and given the opportunity to participate in the process.
You can choose to report an incident of sexual assault without filing a formal complaint. Making a report alerts the college that an incident took place and helps you access support resources you might need. Filing a formal complaint indicates your desire for the incident to be further investigated and to pursue campus conduct charges against the other party.
If there is an imminent danger to the person or community or a potential pattern of behavior with a Respondent, the College may have to take action regardless of the complainant's wishes.
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 assess the 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 assessment by the Title IX Coordinator and 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. This is an entirely anonymous site where a person will be given an access code to maintain their anonymity. The College can communicate with an anonymous reporter to try to learn more about what has been reported and offer support resources and options.
Who might have access to my initial report?
There are people who must consult with each other in order to make a determination of whether an 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 someone in residence life will be contacted to help facilitate the change but given no details of the incident.
If you decide to pursue a formal 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 to access emotional support, 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 SHAW (641-269-3230), the Chaplain/Rabbi/Imam 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 information on confidential support, please see Support Resources.
Does someone need to make a report or file a complaint to access supportive measures?
No. A person can access supportive measures without going through a conduct process. Supportive measures are available before, during, and after a conduct process.
Measures 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 supports. The Title IX Coordinator will reach out to Academic Advising, professors, employers, and residence life staff if you request it and with your permission. The Title IX Coordinator does not give anyone details of what happened nor do they discuss a person's role in the process.
You may need to talk with someone to help you consider the options that will allow you to successfully continue your academic career. Sometimes a person may decide that they need to reduce their course load or withdraw in order to be successful in the future. Supportive measures 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.
These measures are available to Complainants, Respondents, and Witnesses.
For more information, please see Protective and Supportive Measures At-a-Glance.
How do I talk to others about my experience?
Choosing to discuss an experience 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 is 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.
If you share your experience with a 'responsible employee' on campus, they are required to notify the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will reach out to you to ask if you would like to meet to talk about your options and resources available. There is no requirement to respond to or meet with Title IX. You have the agency to decide when, if ever, you talk with the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Resource Card was created by the Title IX office that reminds you of resources on- and off-campus.
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 assault, you have the right to free medical care at UnityPoint Grinnell Regional Medical Center. You have access to free medical treatment, a free rape kit, and free STI testing. To get to UnityPoint GRMC to seek treatment, you can call 911 or Campus Safety at 641-269-4600. Please know that you are encouraged to have a confidential advocate (a trained student OR a professional staff member) to join you at the hospital. The police and safety officers will offer you an advocate.
If you dial SHAW 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?
Every student’s academic history and personal financial situation are different. It can depend on 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 with the Office of Financial Aid.
How long can I expect an investigation to take?
The College seeks to resolve all complaints in a timely manner while being thorough. The process may be extended due to extenuating circumstances of a case in order to ensure a thorough and fair process.
What are the steps involved in the investigation stage for students?
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 and Complainant will receive a detailed Notice of Investigation.
- The Complainant and Respondent will interviewed by the investigator.
- The investigation continues with interviews of witnesses, the collection of evidence (including any electronic communication records between the parties) and any necessary follow-up.
- 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.
- The Dean of Students schedules adjudication meetings.
If my case meets the threshold, who will investigate my conduct case?
The college has a duty and will investigate the case from an educational perspective. The college will typically engage outside investigators. A Title IX investigation is not a criminal investigation, although, if there is a separate criminal investigation, the police will follow their process.
If my case meets the threshold, who will adjudicate my conduct case?
Cases of sexual assault (where the Respondent is a student) may be adjudicated 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 the parties. Upon completing the adjudication 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 are 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 College conduct process. 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 to 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.
Who are the people and parties involved in the investigation process?
Those involved with the investigation might include:
- Title IX Coordinator
- Senior Official (depends on the Respondent’s status at the College, i.e. Dean of Students, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, Dean of the College)
- Campus Safety Officers (as needed)
- External Investigators
- External Adjudicator
- Support Persons to Complainant(s) and Respondent(s)
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 Complainant and/or Respondent are 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 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. There are support resources available to anyone going through the adjudication process.
On-Campus Confidential Resources: Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain, Associate Chaplain and Rabbi, nurses and counselors at Student Health and Wellness, 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, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, Dean of Students, Director of Campus Safety, Campus Safety
All College employees, including designated student leaders 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, 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 on and off-campus resources, such as:
On-Campus Confidential Resources: Dean of Religious Life and Chaplain, Associate Chaplain and Rabbi, Student Health & Wellness, Grinnell College Ombuds.
Non-confidential Campus Resources: Title IX Coordinator, Dean of the College, Director of Human Resources, Dean of Students
Anonymous Resources: EthicsPoint
You will be contacted by the Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator who will walk you through the process and resources available to you. There is no presumption of your responsibility. The College will provide a fair and thorough process. 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 will be investigated based on the information available. 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.
The Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) will be given timely updates throughout the process. 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 established grounds for appeal.
Why was the Respondent in my case allowed to remain on campus?
Outcomes are made on a case-by-case basis. Generally, sexual assault cases involving students are adjudicated externally by a retired judge. The adjudicator reviews all investigative materials, weighs evidence, including statements from the Complainant and Respondent, and makes a decision based on a preponderance of the evidence - more likely than not. There are times when the evidence available does not support a finding of responsibility or the outcomes allow the respondent to return to campus.
It can be difficult to coexist with another when you have experienced something so difficult, which is why the Title IX Coordinator will offer you remedies to help you navigate our small, residential campus if the 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 ]with close friends, family, etc. The College’s retaliation policy applies to Respondents, Complainants, witnesses, and third parties.
For more information on retaliation, see the handout Retaliation At-a-Glance.
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. Everyone has a responsibility to abide by the policy against retaliation and report violations if they see it occurring.
What is an on-campus no-contact order?
A mutual campus no-contact order can be put in place between two students by the Dean of Students or their designee. This is an option that a student can discuss with either the Title IX Coordinator or the Dean of Students.
A campus no-contact order is not the same as a civil protection order that is issued by the courts. If a person is interested in pursuing this option, the Title IX Coordinator can help connect them with an advocate who is trained and experienced in helping a person put these kinds of orders in place.
A mutual campus no-contact order means that two individuals are not allowed to directly contact each other in any way for any reason. Each of the individuals meets with the Dean of Students or designee to discuss the expectations of the no-contact order policy. Each individual will sign the form.
A campus no-contact order only applies while on campus property although parties are encouraged to maintain the spirit of a no-contact order while off campus.
It is important to note that there are no explicit proximity limitations like a civil protection order as we are a small campus and incidental contact may occur. If someone believes that the other party is intentionally coming within their physical proximity, they should let the Dean of Students or Campus Safety know right away.
At times, an outcome of a conduct case will involve the issuing or continuance of a no-contact order. When there is a finding of responsibility in the conduct process, 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 the Dean of Students or the Title IX Coordinator. 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 the threshold is met, the Dean of Students will meet with each party separately to discuss the parameters of the 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 request a no-contact order at anytime—before, during, or after the conduct process.
Who can I talk to if I believe that 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 individuals are the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Campus Safety, 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 an attorney?
Yes, you can have an attorney present throughout your case as your support person. The attorney 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.
How many support people can I have in the adjudication with me?
You are allowed to have one support at any meeting, but it does not need to be the same person at every meeting. Your support person can help you understand the investigation and adjudication procedures, assist in review of documents, help form questions, and provide emotional support etc. Your support person can be anyone you choose including a faculty or staff member, student, attorney, parent, etc. You may need different kinds of support throughout the process and are encouraged to have as much support as you feel you need.
When I make a complaint, what are some of the charges that I can bring forth?
Charges are not determined by the Complainant. Based on the conduct initially reported, the Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students will determine the charges and will write a detailed Notice of Investigation to be delivered to the parties. After the parties are interviewed by the investigator, they will review the incident summary for all potential campus policy violations and, if necessary, will amend any charges and send an updated Notice of Investigation.
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; the police process is a criminal process. The College will cooperate with law enforcement if a student decides to pursue criminal charges. Both or either process is available to a student.
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 a role in any decision making. 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 and with your permission to implement the needed measures. Here are a few examples:
- If you need to move your room, someone in residence life 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 may 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 or your role in a case; they would know the least amount of information necessary for them to give you the resources that you need.
How do I file an appeal?
The Complainant and Respondent, within five (5) business days of the date of the notice of outcome, may submit a written request to the Appeals Officer. If the individual designated for an appeal under this process 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 Title IX Coordinator will direct the appeal to another Senior Official or Appeals Officer. Either party may raise a challenge to the Appeals Officer on the basis of actual bias or conflict of interest. This challenge must be raised, in writing, to the Title IX Coordinator within two (2) business days of receipt of notice of acceptance of the appeal.
Appeals will be evaluated by an impartial decision-maker, referred to as the Appeals Officer. The Appeals Officer will be determined by the role of the Respondent:
• For student respondents, the Appeals Officer is the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs
• For staff respondents, the Appeals Officer is the Vice President of Finance
• For faculty respondents, the Appeals Officer is the President.
The Complainant and/or Respondent may appeal only the parts of the determination of responsibility and/or educational outcome(s), if applicable, directly relating to them. Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the case is not grounds for appeal.
The limited grounds for appeal are as follows:
1. New evidence that was not available at the time of the investigation is presented that could be outcome-determinative; and/or
2. Procedural error(s) that had a material impact on the outcome.
If a person has questions about how to file an appeal, the person may contact the Title IX Coordinator. The appeal shall consist of a plain, concise, and complete written statement expounding on the grounds for the appeal. When an appeal has been submitted, the Appeal Officer will notify both parties of a decision to accept or deny the appeal within five (5) business days. If accepted, each party will be given the opportunity to respond in writing to the other party’s appeal. Any response by the opposing party must be submitted within five (5) business days from acceptance of the appeal.
In any request for an appeal, the burden of proof lies with the party requesting the appeal, as the original determination and educational outcomes (sanctions) are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The appeal is not a de novo review.
The Appeals Officer shall consider the merits of an appeal only on the basis of the two grounds for appeal and the supporting information provided in the written request for appeal along with the record of the original adjudication meeting(s).
The Appeals Officer can affirm the original findings, alter the findings, and/or alter the educational outcomes (sanctions), depending on the basis of the requested appeal. If the Appeals Officer deems that procedures were not followed in a material manner, the Appeals Officer can ask that new meetings occur before a different adjudicator. In the case of new and relevant information, the Appeals Officer can recommend that the case be returned to the original adjudicator to assess the weight and effect of the new information and render a determination after considering the new facts.
The Appeals Officer will communicate the result of the appeal to the Complainant and Respondent within ten (10) business days from the date of the submission of all appeal documents by both parties. Appeal decisions are final.