The University of Southern Indiana established a campus court system in light of the Title IX federal civil rights law, but the goal isn’t to punish criminal law violations. Instead, it’s an administrative process that deals with alleged violations of USI’s Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct Policy. The harshest punishments are expulsion or termination, according to the Courier & Press.
When complaints are filed, they are kept confidential. The terms describing the procedures include evaluative panel, administrative resolution, and sanctions. If it is determined that student or employee has violated the university’s policy, the imposed sanctions will be added to their student or personnel file.
According to Lindsay Cordes, one of our attorneys who represents a former University of Evansville student in her federal lawsuit accusing a professor of sexual and racial harassment, the hearings for policy violations are broad. There’s no judge to determine what is admissible or credible.
If an initial investigation determines there is reason to continue the administrative process, mediation can attempt to resolve the matter if the involved parties agree. If, however, no resolution is possible, USI’s equivalent of a jury will be gathered. The involved parties are allowed to choose their advisor. Evidence can be presented, and witnesses can be heard. The process will ultimately report if the accused is responsible or not responsible for the alleged actions. To be found responsible, the policy states it must be “more likely than not” that the violation happened.
Opinions regarding the process vary because, according to Cordes, a judge is not present to enforce the rules of evidence or civil procedure. Determining who has the final say-so can be challenging. It can also be difficult to ensure the policies and procedures are enforced and followed.
In regard to the role of law enforcement, it’s possible that police officers will know nothing of alleged criminal acts because the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act allows universities to not forward complaints to law enforcement.
Currently at USI, no alleged victim of sexual assault has filed a criminal complaint, but a student is under investigation for a series of reported sexual assaults in student housing. If further action is taken after the investigation, a criminal proceeding can be held in addition to USI’s administrative process – even if no alleged victims come forward.
While abiding by their own confidentiality clauses, USI has yet to say whether the student who is under investigation is male or female, how many alleged victims there are, or whether the alleged victims are students. While the student being investigated is currently allowed to continue their studies, they have been banned from campus.
At Thomas Law Offices, we understand how difficult it can be to understand the complexities of Title IX. We represent victims of sexual assault and are prepared to take on any case, regardless of who the alleged attacker is. Contact us for more information.
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