Administrative policy regarding complaints of unlawful gender discrimination, gender/sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, and intimate partner violence
(A) Policy Statement. Unlawful gender-based discrimination, which includes sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking and intimate partner violence, can interfere with a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from university academic and non-academic programs, an employee’s ability to function in the workplace, and a campus visitor’s to ability to utilize the university programs and services. Unlawful gender-based discrimination is prohibited at Kent State University. The procedure below is intended to afford a prompt, thorough, and impartial response from the university to an allegation of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, and intimate partner violence.
(B) Eligibility. This administrative policy shall apply to all students, faculty, staff, independent contractors, guests, visitors, applicants, university departments and programs, and university recognized student organizations. It shall apply to all incidents occurring on any of the university’s campuses or centers (including international locations), university events off campus, and any incidents occurring off campus that involve both a student or employee as the alleged victim and a student or employee as the accused.
(1) Gender based discrimination. Title VII, Title IX, Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code, and rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code, prohibit unlawful discrimination on the basis of gender or sex. All persons are protected from unlawful discrimination.
(a) Pregnancy. Unlawful gender discrimination includes, discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions. Students seeking an accommodation based upon pregnancy may contact the student ombuds and/or the Title IX coordinator. Employees seeking an accommodation based on pregnancy should contact the Title IX coordinator.
(b) Gender Identity. Unlawful gender discrimination includes discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity or non-conformance to gender stereotypes. Sexual orientation is protected under rule 3342-5-16 and investigated under rule 3342-5-16.1 of the Administrative Code. However, regardless of an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, discrimination and harassment based on a person’s gender identity, or non-conformity to stereotypes associated with a particular gender, is prohibited and may be investigated under this policy. This includes discrimination based on an individual’s transgender identity.
(2) Gender/Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful gender discrimination and is defined as unfavorable or unwelcome treatment, made without consent and based on a person’s gender or sex, that is severe or pervasive and has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working, academic or university environment. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:
(a) Verbal and/or physical behavior including, but not limited to: sexually explicit jokes, insults, and taunts; obscene gestures; offensive pictorial, written, and electronic communications; and unwelcome touching.
(b) Any of the conduct described in paragraphs (C)(1) to (C)(5) of this rule used by an individual implicitly or explicitly as the basis for employment, administrative, or academic decisions (including submission to or rejection of any such conduct), is considered sexual harassment.
(3) Stalking. Stalking is behavior commonly associated with gender-based harassment and violence, and is therefore prohibited by the university gender discrimination policy. Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety, fear for the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. For the purposes of this definition:
(a) Course of conduct is defined as two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
(b) Substantial emotional distress is defined as significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
(c) Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the alleging party.
(4) Sexual Misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a form of gender/sexual harassment, and therefore considered unlawful gender discrimination. Sexual misconduct includes:
(a) Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by a person upon a person, that is without consent;
(b) Sexual Exploitation, defined as taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, if that behavior does not otherwise constitute another sexual misconduct offense. This Such actions would include, but not be limited to, videotaping or recording of a sex act; allowing an observer to a sex act, unknown to one party; or exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances;
(c) Knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection or disease through sexual contact without consent;
(5) Intimate Partner Violence. Intimate partner violence is behavior commonly associated with gender-based violence, and is therefore prohibited by the university gender discrimination policy. Intimate partner violence includes:
(a) Domestic violence. Acts of violence or intimidation committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts by law.
(b) Dating violence. Violence or intimidation committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship; the type of relationship; and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
(6) Consent. Consent is defined as the voluntary, unambiguous agreement to participate in an act, the nature of which is known to and understood by the consenter. Consent may be given verbally or nonverbally and may be withdrawn at any time before completion of the act.
(a) A person may be incapable of giving consent due to physical incapacitation, physical or mental disability, threat, coercion, the influence of alcohol or drugs, or age.
(7) Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator is the university administrator responsible for overseeing the implementation of Title IX regulations, the enforcement of this policy, and all gender discrimination, gender/sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct, stalking and intimate partner violence investigations. Any claims of gender discrimination, gender/sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking or intimate partner violence brought by employees will be investigated in accordance with both Title VII and Title IX regulations.
(a) Title IX deputy coordinators. The Title IX coordinator may deputize their authority to investigate complaints brought under this policy to deputy coordinators. Deputy coordinators will be trained specifically to investigate such complaints. The Title IX coordinator, as well as the deputy coordinators, may work with other employees in various departments and campuses, (including affirmative action facilitators), in conducting an investigation, but the coordinator and/or deputy coordinator is ultimately responsible for each investigation.
(b) Training. The Title IX coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that annual training regarding investigations under this policy is received by: all Title IX deputy coordinators and the coordinator; all student conduct hearing officers who will be hearing cases pertaining to this policy; and all administrators who will be hearing appeals under this policy. The Title IX coordinator is also responsible for providing regular training opportunities for the university community regarding reporting violations described within this policy.
(c) Contact information. The Title IX coordinator may be contacted at the following: Title IX coordinator, office of equal opportunity and affirmative action, division of human resources, heer hall, 635 loop Rd., Kent, OH 44242-0001. Phone: (330) 672-2038, email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.kent.edu/hr/aa/titleix.cfm
(D) All employees of the university are required to report all instances of gender/sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, and intimate partner violence to the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator, except as excluded below. All other members of the university community are encouraged to report any gender discrimination, gender/sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence that they experience, witness, or of which they are made aware.
(1) University medical services. If a victim of sexual misconduct informs university medical services, the medical personnel are not required to report details of incidents to the Title IX coordinator/deputy if doing so would violate patient confidentiality. However, a duty may exist to report such incident to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
(2) University psychological services. If a victim of sexual misconduct seeks the services of any psychological service of the university, the services’ licensed counselors and their unlicensed trainees are not required to report details of incidents to the Title IX coordinator/deputy if doing so would violate patient confidentiality. However, a duty may exist to report such incident to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
(3) The Ohio Revised Code requires all felony crimes, which includes most cases of sexual assault and some cases of intimate partner violence, to be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Due to this law, university employees (with the exclusion of licensed counselors and unlicensed counselor trainees acting in their capacity as such) are required to report to the appropriate law enforcement agency information brought to their attention concerning such occurrences.
(4) University departments may create individual reporting structures to facilitate prompt reporting and adequate response; however, all reports must ultimately be provided to the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators as quickly as possible. Any such departmental reporting structure must be documented and publicized within the department, as well as shared with the Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinators.
(1) All reports of gender discrimination, gender/sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence must be investigated by the Title IX coordinator/deputy coordinators. This administrative investigation is separate from any other investigations, including investigations by law enforcement.
(2) The university will keep all information pertaining to the investigation as confidential as possible. If the complainant requests that their information not be shared with the accused, the university will honor such a request in so far as is compliant with the law. However, such a request may limit the extent to which the university is able to investigate and respond to the complaint. If the complainant wishes to file a formal complaint with the university, the complainant’s name and any written statements submitted will be disclosed to the accused. If the university determines that the safety of the community is at risk, certain confidential information may need to be shared in order to protect the university community.
(3) As described above, some complaints will require reporting to the appropriate law enforcement agency. There are times when the law enforcement agency may investigate the same complaint as the university. The law enforcement agency may ask the university to suspend its investigation while they commence their investigation. If this occurs, the university will inform the complainant and accused when the investigation is suspended, and when it resumes. At all times, a complainant has a right to independently file a complaint with any applicable law enforcement agency or outside enforcement agency. Such agencies include, but are not limited to, the Ohio civil rights commission (employees), the equal employment opportunity commission (employees), and the department of education, office of civil rights (employees and students). The timeline is based on the alleged act or the discovery of the alleged act. However, it is recommended that the complainant first exhaust the internal complaint procedures.
(4) Amnesty. All students are expected to report violations described in this policy. If a student who reports or who serves as a witness for such an incident is also in violation of another policy (such as a drug or alcohol offense) in conjunction with the incident, amnesty will be considered by the staff in the office of student conduct, and granted at their discretion, depending on the nature of the offense and the circumstances surrounding the incident.
(F) Investigation process and remediation.
(1) Informal Investigation. Once the Title IX coordinator or deputy is made aware of an alleged violation, an informal investigation will begin and remedial measures may be taken to limit the effects of the alleged harassment or misconduct and prevent its reoccurrence. If the alleged victim is known and willing to participate, they will be made aware of any remedial measures available to them through the university, law enforcement, and community assistance, such as medical and counseling services.
(a) Interim remedial measures may include, but are not limited to: changes in housing assignments, changes in course scheduling, alternative employment conditions, no contact orders, and other measures specifically calculated to remediate any harassment. Interim measures will only occur with the consent of the alleged victim.
(i) A “no contact order” may be issued by the vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, or their designee, in accordance with the code of student conduct if the accused is a student, or by the Title IX coordinator, or their designee, if the accused is an employee. No contact orders must be issued in writing, with notice to both parties, and in conjunction with a formal complaint. Such orders are imposed when the university has reasonable cause to believe that the interaction of two people may pose a risk to the safety or well-being of those involved or others in the University community. Under the terms of such an order, both the parties are prohibited from communicating with each other. This pertains to direct contact and all forms of communication, including but not limited to email, social networking sites, phone, instant messaging, and any contact through third parties. A violation of such order may result in conduct and/or criminal charges. All parties have the option of pursuing a protective order from a court of relevant jurisdiction at all times. A no contact order may be valid pending the outcome of the investigation, the conclusion of the hearing process (if applicable), or for a time period specified by the issuer in the order.
(b) Mediation. In cases of gender discrimination or gender/sexual harassment, (but not sexual misconduct, stalking, or intimate partner violence), an informal mediation of the parties may be arranged, with permission of both parties, by the Title IX coordinator/deputy coordinator. During such a mediation, the parties will meet with an impartial mediator to discuss the alleged discrimination or harassment. The expectation of such a mediation is that both parties will attempt to come to an equitable resolution of the situation. Participation in mediation is completely voluntary by both parties, and consent to participate may be withdrawn at any time. Participation in a mediation does not begin a formal investigation by the university, but the alleged victim may request a formal investigation at any time. A successful mediation will result in a signed agreement between the parties, will close the university’s investigation, and the matter will be considered resolved.
(2) Formal investigation. Generally, the alleged victim’s express consent will be requested to conduct a formal investigation. Such consent should be provided in writing. In cases of perceived threat to the university community, the alleged victim’s consent will not be required to conduct a formal investigation.
(a) Once a complainant gives the university consent to formally investigate, the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator will investigate the complaint. This investigation may involve interviews with the complainant, accused, and possible witnesses, as well as information collection. Both the complainant and accused will be notified of the opening of the formal investigation, and both may suggest witnesses to interview or other evidence to review. Both the complainant and accused may bring a person of their choosing to accompany them through the interview process. This person may attend the interviews, but may not participate.
(b) A formal investigation will be completed within sixty days after a formal complaint with consent to investigate is submitted to the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator. If more time is required to complete the investigation, the complainant and accused will be notified of such in writing.
(c) Student conduct. If the accused is a student, a formal complaint will initiate an investigation as described above and may result in a student conduct hearing. This process is contained in the code of student conduct. Both the complainant and accused are entitled to:
(i) logistical accommodations to participate outside of the hearing room during the proceeding;
(ii) equal and timely access to information that will be considered by the hearing panel in making its decision;
(iii) bring a person of their choosing to accompany them during the hearing. This person may attend the hearing, but may not participate;
(iv) bring witnesses to provide information during the hearing;
(v) ask questions of the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator regarding the investigation of the complaint. Information gained during the investigation may be shared at the hearing.
(d) When the formal investigation is complete, the findings will be shared in writing with both the complainant and the accused.
(i) If the accused is a student, the results of the student conduct hearing will be shared in writing with both the complainant and accused within five (5) business days. The hearing panel will use a preponderance of the evidence standard in making its determination (i.e. it is more likely than not that the offense occurred, based on the evidence presented.) These results are to be considered the written findings of the investigation. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to: warning, probation, campus access restrictions, counseling assessment referral, reflection assignment, monetary penalty, no contact order, suspension, dismissal, or others as deemed appropriate and as outlined in the code of student conduct.
(ii) If the accused is a university employee or university department, a report of the investigation findings, including recommended sanctions, will be shared with the complainant and accused, as well as the applicable supervisory area to ensure that the university responds appropriately. A preponderance of the evidence standard will be used in determining the findings. Sanctions will be recommended to the applicable supervisor or supervisory area and may range from mandated training to separation from the university. Any determined sanctions against the accused and affecting the complainant will be shared with the complainant prior to implementation by the university department. The responding department shall, in a timely fashion, advise the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy what sanctions will be implemented and report on the progress of implementing the sanctions.
(a) Student Organizations. If the accused is a university recognized student organization, the matter will initially be investigated following the procedure in this policy for university departments. The center for student involvement will be consulted as the appropriate supervisory area. Depending upon the circumstances involved, the investigation may result in a student conduct hearing as well, involving representation from the student organization’s identified executive board/leaders. If held, a student conduct hearing will be conducted in accordance with the procedures provided for in this policy, as well as the code of student conduct. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, mandated training, activity limitation, campus access restriction, and removal of university recognition. If it is determined that individuals from the student organization may have violated university policy, they may be required to separately go through the student conduct process in an individual capacity.
(iii) If the accused is not a current student, current employee, recognized student organization, or university department, a determination proceeding will be held, pursuant to rule 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code. A decision will be made based on a preponderance of the evidence standard and shared with the complainant and accused, in writing, within five (5) business days of the completion of the proceeding. Sanctions may include restrictions on the accused’s ability to visit campus, including an order that the accused is no longer permitted on campus, in accordance with 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code.
(3) If at any time during or after the completion of the investigation the investigator finds that the university was not acting in accordance with its policies or procedures, or that its policies or procedures need to be revised to prevent the occurrence of discrimination or harassment, steps will be initiated by the Title IX coordinator to promptly remedy the situation.
(4) Appeals process.
(a) If the accused is a student or a recognized student organization, and a student conduct hearing has been held, the decision may be appealed by either the complainant or the accused in accordance with the student conduct appeals procedure contained in the code of student conduct.
(b) If the accused is a university employee, university department, or recognized student organization (that has not been before a student conduct hearing panel on this matter), the results of the investigation may be appealed in writing within fifteen (15) business days to the Title IX coordinator if the investigation was conducted by a deputy coordinator, or the vice president of human resources if the investigation was conducted by the coordinator. A decision regarding the appeal will be provided in writing to the complainant and accused within thirty days after the appeal is submitted.
(c) If the accused is not a current student, current employee, recognized student organization, or university department, a request for review of the determination proceeding decision may be made to the vice president for enrollment management and student affairs in accordance with rule 3342-5-12.7 of the Administrative Code. A final decision will be made and shared with the complainant and accused, in writing, within thirty (30) days after the appeal is submitted.
(5) Retaliation. Kent state university prohibits retaliation against any individual who participates in a complaint of a violation described in this policy, pursuant to rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code.
(6) Complaints are to be made in good faith. If the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator determines that a complainant knowingly falsely accused another of a violation described in this policy, appropriate sanctions will be recommended against the complainant if they are an employee. If the complainant is a student, charges may be pursued through the office of student conduct. Where applicable, charges may also be brought through local law enforcement.
Effective: May 19, 2014
Prior Effective Dates: 6/5/2012, 6/1/2007, 5/22/2000, 8/26/1998, 4/29/1993