What to Expect

If you believe you have been sexually harassed, please contact the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE). Our goal is to determine if the policy against sexual misconduct was violated and if it was, how to protect those who are affected and to prevent further sexual misconduct.  

The inquiry stage:

If you call the office or walk-in, ask to speak to a staff member who can talk with you about what has happened or is happening. Even if you aren't sure if the situation is "bad enough" to seek help from our office, contact us. Sometimes addressing inappropriate behavior early can prevent it from escalating. Behavior that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable is serious enough for you to contact us. We'll talk with you about your options. If we cannot speak with you on the same day you call or stop by, we will arrange an appointment, usually within a day or two. If the situation is urgent, don't be afraid to tell the person who answers the phone or who greets you at the front desk that it is urgent for you to speak to someone immediately.

If you cannot come to the Office for Institutional Equity (Crewson House), we can usually arrange to come to you or to meet in a neutral place. When we meet, usually two staff members will interview you. We do this to ensure that we record all of your information, and ask the right questions to help you explain your experience.

Usually, we will ask you to put your complaint in writing. A brief statement of who, what, when, where, and how will help us understand your situation. It is helpful for you to provide an address and preferred mode of contact such as cell phone or email. If you have any witnesses – people who have heard or seen behaviors that will help corroborate what you've told us – please include their names and contact information in your written complaint. Sometimes sexual harassment occurs and there are no witnesses, so don't be afraid to talk with us just because you don't have witnesses. Documents such as emails, letters, pictures, or web postings can be important corroborating information. Please bring us copies of any documents that help explain your situation to your initial meeting at OIE.

The investigation stage:

After we have interviewed you and reviewed your complaint, we will decide whether or not to do an investigation. We are required by law and university policy to investigate good faith complaints of harassment when your allegations, if true, would constitute a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. If we decide not to investigate, we will tell you why. If we do decide to investigate, we will explain the investigation plan to you. Generally, there are some common steps in an investigation:

  1. Evaluate complaint to determine if duty to investigate by the Office for Institutional Equity. Even if we are not the proper office to handle your complaint, we can usually refer you to the right office. For purposes of the investigation, you are called a "complainant."

  2. Interview the person or persons who you believe harassed you. The accused (called a "respondent") is not required but may choose to file a written response. We usually ask that the response be sent to us within 14 days.

  3. Interview people who have first-hand knowledge of what has happened, or the direct effects on you. These individuals do not have to know everything that happened, but need to be able to tell us what they, personally, have seen or heard that will help us to understand the situation.

  4. We may interview you, the respondent, or witnesses more than once, or may contact you to clarify an earlier statement. Don't assume the worst if we ask the same questions twice – sometimes we just didn't understand the answer and we want to give everyone involved the chance to explain the situation from their perspective.

  5. We will issue a final report that describes our investigation and makes findings of fact about the situation. Our goal is to determine if the policy against sexual harassment was violated. We may determine that the allegations were:
    • substantiated – which means that there was clear and compelling information to support and/or corroborate your explanation of what happened.

    • unfounded – which means that there was no information or insufficient information to support and/or corroborate your explanation of what happened.

    • unsubstantiated – which means that there was insufficient information to prove that the allegations are true. Sometimes this is because there is compelling information from both parties. Unsubstantiated is neither a finding that it occurred or that it didn't occur but that it is impossible to determine for sure what happened.

  6. Our final report will include a conclusion as to whether or not the University policy against sexual misconduct was violated. We may, in some circumstances, make recommendations for resolution of the situation or to protect you from further contact with the respondent. These recommendations are given to someone who can make decisions to ensure enforcement of the recommendations, such as an academic department chair, a Residential Housing administrator, or a supervisor/manager.

  7. Informal Resolution: When appropriate, we may discuss the possibility of informal dispute resolution such as mediation or referral to the University Ombudsman. We will not refer you for these services if you feel unsafe.

  8. We are trained sexual harassment investigators and we have a lot of experience interviewing people who have been harmed, who may have caused harm, or who may be witnesses. It is our goal to protect your privacy as much as is possible. In order to meet our duty to investigate violations of policy and protect the larger campus community, we cannot guarantee that your information will be confidential. We operate on a "need to know" basis, involving only those individuals who must be involved to ensure a fair review.

  9. We recognize that this is a difficult situation, and strive to be respectful of you. We also recognize that a person who is accused of sexual misconduct is entitled to a fair response. We are not advocates for any one party, but advocates for a fair process.

For details about the reporting and response process, go to Title IX Grievance Procedure.