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Title IX: Sexual Misconduct Policy
RESPECT OURSELVES. RESPECT EACH OTHER.
Lourdes University is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive educational environment for all members of the University community. Consistent with this mission, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681) and the Department of Education’s implementing regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex/gender in the University’s programs and activities. It is important to understand that such discrimination includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, and other forms of sexual misconduct. Though Lourdes is fortunate to enjoy a very safe campus, we are determined eliminate any such discriminatory conduct, address its effects, and prevent its recurrence.
In light of these commitments, the University has adopted this comprehensive Title IX: Sexual Misconduct Policy to address incidents of sexual misconduct in the University’s programs and activities and sets forth prohibited conduct; reporting, investigation, and complaint resolution procedures; available resources and interim measures; and possible sanctions for violations of this Policy.
This Policy prohibits all forms of sex/gender-based harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, relationship violence, and stalking, collectively referred to as “sexual misconduct” and defined later in this Policy under “Prohibited Conduct.” This Policy addresses sexual misconduct in the University’s programs and activities both on and off campus. Off campus conduct is subject to this Policy when it occurs in the course of a University program or activity or when the misconduct continues to have an adverse effect on any University program or activity. Including but not limited to communications of touching, face to face, telephone calls, texts, emails, written letters, social media or other electronic/digital technology use.
The Title IX Coordinator is the individual responsible for overseeing the University’s compliance with Title IX and the 2013 Amendments to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Lourdes’ Director of Campus Public Safety, Michelle McDevitt, Lourdes Commons, 419-517-8953, email@example.com, serves as the University’s Title IX Coordinator and is charged with monitoring compliance with these laws and regulations, including systematically evaluating procedures to effectively and efficiently respond to complaints of sex/gender discrimination and to ensure the absence of sex/gender discrimination in the University’s education programs and activities.
Investigations under this Policy shall be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator and/or one or more designated and appropriately trained Title IX investigators (“designees”).
To best understand violations defined in the next section of this Policy, key terms are discussed below:
Coercion: Unreasonable pressure for sexual activity, particularly though not necessarily only, when a victim resists a sexual advance or request
Consent: An affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity given by clear, knowing, and voluntary actions or words. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, alone, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity. Consent cannot be communicated in an individual’s manner of dress. Consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time. Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity. Prior consent cannot imply future consent to future sexual acts. Acts of a sexual nature initiated by an individual who a reasonable person knows or should have known to be incapacitated is not Consent. In order to give effective Consent, one must be of legal age (in Ohio & Michigan: 16).
Force: Physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce (ineffective) Consent.
Incapacitation: State in which an individual is unable to consent to sexual contact. States of incapacitation include, but are not limited to: sleep, unconsciousness, intermittent consciousness, or any other state when a person is incapable of making an intentional decision to participate in a sexual act or unaware that sexual contact is occurring; a disability may also limit one’s ability to Consent to sexual contact. Incapacitation is determined on a case-by-case basis and includes an analysis of whether the accused party knew, or should have known, that the alleged victim was incapacitated, or if the accused party played a role in creating the Incapacitation. Though consumption of alcohol or drugs commonly cause Incapacitation, their consumption alone is not sufficient to demonstrate Incapacitation.
Sexual Intercourse: Anal or vaginal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or inanimate object
This Policy prohibits all forms of sex/gender-based harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, relationship violence and stalking in the University’s programs and activities. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, conduct prohibited under this Policy can be committed by people of any gender, between individuals of the same or different genders; between strangers or acquaintances; and between people involved in intimate and/or sexual relationships with one another.
Alcohol consumption and/or drug use does not constitute a mitigating factor when it contributes to violations of this Policy.
Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct based on sex/gender which is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to have the effect of creating a hostile environment by unreasonably interfering with, denying, or limiting an individual’s work, education, or living conditions OR use of a position of authority to engage in unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (i)an individual’s employment or education is conditioned (either explicitly or implicitly) upon submission to such conduct; or (ii)decisions affecting one’s education or employment are based upon submission to or rejection of such conduct. Sexual Harassment is a broad term that includes:
Non-Consensual Contact: Any intentional sexual touching however slight with any object by person upon another person that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with breasts, groin, mouth, or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner.
Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse: Any sexual penetration or intercourse (anal, oral, vaginal) however slight with any object by person upon another person that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger or object or oral copulation by mouth or genital contact or genital to mouth contact.
Sexual Exploitation: Actual or attempted abuse or violation of another’s privacy or taking nonconsensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for the sexual gratification, financial gain, or other benefit of anyone other than the one being exploited.
Stalking: Two or more acts directed at a specific person in which the actor directly, or through third parties, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about the person or interferes with that person’s property by any action, method, device or means such that the acts would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and/or to fear for his/her/another’s safety.
Sexual Violence: Actual or attempted physical act(s) of a sexual nature committed against an individual without Consent or against an individual in a state of Incapacitation. Though sometimes involved, Coercion, Force, and/or Incapacitation are not necessary for Sexual Violence to occur.
Domestic Violence: Violence, or threat of abuse, committed by a current or former spouse or cohabitant, intimate partner, or any individual from whom the Victim is protected by federal or state domestic or family violence law.
Dating violence: Violence, or threat of abuse, committed by a current or former romantic/social/intimate partner relationship with the student.
Adverse treatment of a person as a result of his/her reporting sex/gender-based harassment or sexual violence; as a result of him/her assisting a person with reporting sex/gender-based harassment or sexual violence of a complaint under this Policy; or as a result of him/her participating in the resolution of a complaint of sex/gender-based harassment or sexual violence under this Policy or externally.
Conduct that meets University definitions of Prohibited Conduct may also violate applicable state and/or federal law. As such, criminal prosecution may take place independently of any disciplinary action instituted by the University.
Individuals who believe they have been the victim of misconduct prohibited by this Policy may submit a Sexual Misconduct Incident Report (SMIR) online or in hard copy to initiate University action. SMIRs may also be submitted by individuals on a victim’s behalf. It is not necessary for someone to be directly involved in an incident to file an SMIR, though the person reporting the misconduct must have reasonably adequate and credible information.
Because it is often difficult to determine the facts of an incident long after the incident has occurred, prompt reporting of incidents is strongly encouraged. While all SMIRs are reviewed, typically only those with names of involved individuals and sufficient details can be adequately pursued.
Upon receipt and review of an SMIR with adequate information and detail, the Title IX Coordinator and/or their designee(s), shall contact the victim to discuss the incident, review procedures under this Policy, and share with him/her available confidential resources, additional reporting options, services, and interim measures. The victim will also be informed that s/he may be accompanied by a support person of his/her choice at any meeting held in connection with the case under this Policy.
Once adequate information is obtained, the Title IX Coordinator and/or their designee(s), shall contact the respondent (the accused party) to inform him/her of the report against him/her, review procedures under this Policy, and share with him/her available resources, services, interim measures, and the University’s position regarding Retaliation. The respondent will also be informed that s/he may be accompanied by a support person of his/her choice at any meeting held in connection with the case under this Policy. If the respondent is an employee, the Director of Human Resources and the appropriate University official and/or supervisor shall also be notified.
If the Title IX Coordinator finds there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of this Policy was committed, and if sufficient detail is available, a prompt and equitable investigation will occur. The Title IX Coordinator has the discretion to consolidate multiple complaints or reports into a single investigation if evidence relevant to one incident might be relevant to the others.
All investigations shall be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator and/or their designee(s) (“Investigator”), who shall be screened for any conflicts of interest regarding the specific case(s). Once it has been determined that no conflict of interest or bias exists for the assigned Investigator, the investigation shall commence, and written Notice of the Investigation will be sent to the complainant and the respondent with sufficient detail regarding the allegations to allow both parties the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence to the Investigator. Should the incident involve additional violations of University Policy that are not violations of this Policy, those alleged violations shall be investigated together with the sexual misconduct allegations under this Policy. Likewise, the Title IX Coordinator has the discretion to consolidate multiple reports into a single investigation if evidence relevant to one incident might be relevant to the others.
All investigations under this Policy shall be adequate, reliable, and impartial. The entire investigation process, not including appeals, should typically be completed within 60 days; however, this process may take longer if there is a parallel criminal investigation and/or if it transpires during school breaks.
The investigation is designed to resolve complaints using impartial fact-gathering and decision- making processes regarding (i) whether or not the misconduct occurred and (ii) if applicable, what steps the University will take to end the discriminatory conduct, eliminate the hostile environment, and prevent its recurrence. To that end, the Investigator will gather information and conduct interviews with the complainant, respondent, witnesses, and others, as appropriate. To protect the privacy of the circumstances giving rise to the relevant complaint(s), information regarding the allegations/alleged incident will be shared only as necessary to maintain the integrity of the investigation, to promptly and fairly resolve complaints, and to determine the University’s response to any misconduct found to have occurred under this Policy; and all are expected uphold the strictest confidentiality regarding these matters.
The Investigator will also collect and analyze any available physical evidence, including documents, communications, and other electronic records, as appropriate. In determining whether violations were committed, the Investigator will consider the totality of the facts and circumstances, including the nature of the alleged misconduct and the context in which it allegedly occurred. The Investigator may consider prior documented findings of misconduct to assess any highly relevant patterns of behavior (e.g., sexual misconduct violations, acts of violence, dishonesty).
Once the investigation is complete, the Investigator shall prepare a report that includes information gathered about the incident and renders a determination as to whether or not violation(s) of this Policy occurred using a preponderance of evidence standard (i.e. more likely than not that the sexual misconduct occurred). After reviewing the investigative report and case file, including interview summaries, witness statements, evidence, and other documents, the Title IX Coordinator shall consult with the Dean of Students (DOS) and Director of Community Standards/designee(s) for cases involving students, and the Director of Human Resources and appropriate Cabinet member/designee(s) for cases involving employees, and collectively determine:
If the respondent is a student, any relevant sanctions to be imposed and, if applicable, what steps the University will take to end the discrimination, eliminate the hostile environment, and prevent its recurrence; or
If the respondent is an employee, any relevant disciplinary action and, if applicable, what steps the University will take to end the discrimination, eliminate the hostile environment, and prevent its recurrence.
Written notice of the outcome and a copy of the Investigative Report, redacted of personally identifiable information as necessary, will be shared with the complainant and the respondent.
Both parties have the right to appeal the findings where it is alleged that procedural error or previously unavailable relevant evidence could significantly impact the outcome of the case or where it is alleged that the sanctions or disciplinary action are substantially disproportionate to the findings. The appeal must be made in writing to the Dean of Students or designee within five (5) business days of the written notice of outcome and shall include the asserted grounds for appeal. Any appeal will be shared with the other party, who will have five (5) business days to respond in writing.
The Dean of Students or designee shall appoint an Appeals Committee comprised of one Cabinet member and one trained Title IX investigator, other than the Investigator in the underlying case, to address the appeal after both individuals have been screened for any conflicts of interest regarding the specific case and regarding their reporting structure (i.e. the appointed Appeals Committee Title IX investigator shall not (directly or indirectly) report to the appointed Appeals Committee Cabinet member.) The Appeals Committee shall determine if the appeal meets one of the above standards within five (5) business days. If it does, the matter will be returned to the original Investigator for re-opening of an investigation and to allow reconsideration of the original determination and/or sanction(s). If it does not, the matter will be considered final and binding upon all involved. Both the complainant and the respondent will be notified in writing of the outcome of any appeal.
Should the outcome of the underlying case require removal of a party from the University, such requirement shall not be waived automatically as a result of, or during, the appeal process; if the removed party is a student or an employee, the Title IX Coordinator, the Dean of Students or the Director of Human Resources/designee(s), collectively, shall determine whether the removed party shall be permitted to return to campus during the appeals process.
To encourage reporting of conduct prohibited by this Policy, the University typically will offer leniency for victims, witnesses, and others with respect to alcohol, drug and/or other violations of University policy, which may be revealed as a result of such reports.
Upon receipt of information regarding alleged misconduct under this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator may, at any time prior to the resolution of any complaint under this Policy, implement reasonable and appropriate interim measures designed to preserve the safety of and access to the University’s programs and activities for the complainant, any other parties, and the broader University community, while maintaining the integrity of the investigation and deterring retaliation.
For example, the Title IX Coordinator may offer options to avoid contact with the respondent or allow the victim to change academic and extracurricular activities as appropriate; likewise, the University may implement interim measures including, but not limited to, housing accommodations, academic support, and no-contact orders.
All forms of sexual misconduct are regarded as serious University offenses, and violations of this Policy will result in discipline, including the possibility of separation from the University. Once a final outcome has been reached regarding a case under this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator and the Dean of Students/designee(s), shall determine any relevant sanctions to be imposed on students. Sanctions for violations of the University’s Community Standards Code (that are not violations of this Policy) by students shall be determined by the Director of Community Standards and the Dean of Students. Sanctions for violations of this Policy by University employees shall be determined by the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Human Resources and the appropriate University official and/or supervisor.
University policy and federal laws prohibit retaliatory measures against any individual who files a complaint in good faith. It is a violation of University policy to retaliate against any complainant of sexual misconduct or against any person cooperating in the investigation of (including witnesses) any allegation of sexual misconduct.
The University treats Retaliation as a serious violation of this Policy and one that should be immediately reported to the Title IX Coordinator in cases of sexual misconduct. Findings of Retaliation may result in disciplinary action independent of that imposed in response to the underlying allegations of sexual misconduct.
If a victim requests that his/her name not be revealed to the respondent or asks that the University not investigate or not seek action against the respondent, s/he will be advised that honoring such a request may limit the University’s ability to respond fully to the incident, including pursuing disciplinary action against the respondent. The victim will also be informed that the Title IX Coordinator will make every effort to respect his/her request and will evaluate it in the context of the University’s responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.
The victim and the respondent each may be accompanied by a support person of his/her choice at any meeting held in connection with a case under this Policy. The support person shall not be permitted to speak aloud during the meeting(s) or otherwise communicate with anyone present at the meeting(s). A support person who is found by the Title IX Coordinator or her designee to be improperly interfering with a meeting will be required to leave the meeting and may not be permitted to attend future meetings under this Policy.
A victim of sexual misconduct has the right to file a criminal complaint with law enforcement officials simultaneously with reporting the misconduct to the University. Though the complaints will be pursued separately, the University will cooperate and assist the victim in notifying the proper law enforcement agency if the victim so chooses. Filing an SMIR does not require an individual to file a complaint with any other authority. To contact Public Safety from an on-campus phone, dial 411; other phones: 419-574-3861. To contact the Sylvania Police, dial 419-885-8902.
Individuals with complaints under and/or regarding this Policy also have the right to file a formal complaint under Title IX with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Cleveland Office, 1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 325, Cleveland, OH 44115-1812; Telephone: 216-522-4970; FAX: 216-522-2573; TDD: 800-877-8339; Email: OCR.Cleveland@ed.gov.
Although all persons are encouraged to report incidents to the University and local law enforcement, an individual who is not prepared to do so, or who may be unsure how to label an incident, may wish to contact a confidential resource for information and support and with whom conversations are privileged.
The Sophia Center, an on-campus counseling center, is a confidential resource that provides pressure-free support and information to victims of sexual assault (and others) and can be contacted at 419-882-4529.
Individuals who would like to speak with a local, off-campus confidential resource for victims of sexual assault can contact the HOPE Center Rape Crisis 24-hour information/advocacy hotline at 419-241-7273 or toll free at 866-557-7273.
Exceptions regarding confidentiality may occur when an individual presents an immediate risk of harm to self or others or when the victim is a minor.
Individuals should be aware that University employees who become aware of prohibited conduct under this Policy are required to file an SMIR with names and details of the alleged misconduct. Students who serve in employee roles (e.g., Graduate Assistants) are likewise required to share such reports with the Title IX Coordinator.
The University will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of University policy to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.
Pursuant to Ohio law, Lourdes University requires all members of the University community to report any suspected child abuse/neglect involving a minor (under the age of 18). The identity of the abuser does not need to be known in order to file a report, and it is not the responsibility of the University community member filing the report to investigate the suspected abuse.
Community members may report the suspected child abuse/neglect to the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Campus Public Safety, who will report the suspected child abuse/neglect to law enforcement and/or child protective services.
In addition to reporting the suspected abuse/neglect to the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Campus Public Safety, one may directly report the suspected abuse/neglect:
- If a child is in immediate danger, call 911;
- If there is no immediate danger, contact the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Child Abuse and Neglect hotline at (855) 642-4453.
In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act of 1998, the University must issue timely warnings to community members when there exists a serious and continuing threat to their health or safety. Whether or not an individual instance of a potential sex offense triggers a timely warning is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the facts and information known by University officials. Those who report incidents of misconduct under this Policy should be aware that this may be necessary, although identifying information regarding the victim will not be disclosed as long as the University may provide sufficient detail for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.
Lourdes University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or any other legally protected category in its programs and activities. Lourdes University’s policies against discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation are consistent with Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 34 CFR Part 106, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 34 CFR 104.7, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008.