One Process: Procedures for Ensuring a Just and Humane Campus

Dominican University is committed to ensuring a just and humane campus wherein all community members have the capacity to thrive (Affirmation of Community Values). It is understood that the behavior of some community members may, at times, challenge the well-being of others. As such, the University has established a set of policies that identify the types of behaviors that are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. These policies address issues related to Title IX and gender, ADA and disability, race and bias, and other conduct. To improve the university’s ability to foster a just and humane campus for all, the university community is asked to report incidents that violate university anti-discrimination and misconduct policies so that efforts can be made to end discriminatory and harassing conduct based on a protected characteristic, prevent its reoccurrence, and address its effects (Reporting Options).

Investigations of Bias-Related Policy Violations are based on a Civil Rights Model

Dominican University has chosen to utilize a model based on procedures for investigating alleged violations of civil rights. Civil Rights violations are highly sensitive and emotional, and require sound and thorough investigations to properly and effectively address them. Any investigation of civil rights violations must be responsive to specific contexts and individual circumstances and must maintain rigorous standards. A civil rights model is based on an active gathering of information by trained investigators. In the civil rights investigation model, it is not the job of the parties to prove whether a policy was violated. It is the job of Dominican University to determine whether there is a preponderance of evidence that a policy was violated by engaging in an active accumulation of information from all possible sources. Investigators must objectively and impartially collect relevant information, confirm its veracity, and analyze this information to understand violations, their causes and effects, and to identify their perpetrators. The duration and scope of investigations can vary, as well as the content of their final reports. However, all investigations produce recommendations on ways to rectify violations for complainants, promote accountability for perpetrators found to have violated University policy, stop ongoing abuses, and prevent their reoccurrence.

The standard used to determine whether University anti-discrimination and gender-based and sexual misconduct policy has been violated is whether it is more likely than not that the respondent violated the policy. This is often referred to as a preponderance of the evidence standard.

Overview of the Investigation Process

There are four stages to the process: Receipt of Incident Reports and Engagement in Interim Remedial Actions, including an option for mediation when appropriate (Stage 1), Investigation (Stage 2), Review Board (Stage 3), and Right to Further Review (Stage 4). The complainant and respondent have rights in the investigation and resolution process (see Appendix A for a statement of rights).

In general, the investigation and initial resolution of any alleged violation of University anti-discrimination and/or Gender-based and Sexual Misconduct policy (Stages 1 and 2) will be completed within 60 days of the filing of a complaint or the date on which the University becomes aware of a suspected violation of policy unless the University determines in its discretion that more time is required to complete the investigation.

Community Based Process

Members of the Dominican University community (faculty/staff/student) are trained to implement this process for just and humane campus and to offer support. Confidential Victim Advocates, Mediators, Investigators, and Investigation Advocates may be any of the following members of the community: faculty, staff, and students appointed and trained by the Chief Diversity Officer and the Committee on Climate, Equity, and Inclusion. Each of these roles are specialized, members of the Dominican University community should serve in only one capacity during an academic year.

Confidential Victim Advocates: Confidential Victim Advocates from the Dominican University community (faculty/staff/student) are trained to offer resources and support, explain how the Dominican’s grievance and disciplinary system works, and help navigate the reporting process.

Mediators: Mediation is a resolution process by which both parties agree to meet with an impartial trained mediator. Impartial and trained mediators from the Dominican University community (faculty/staff/student) develop a resolution process to discuss the incident and attempt to resolve it amicably.

Investigators: Trained investigators from the Dominican University community (faculty/staff/student) will interview the complainant, respondent, any witnesses, and any other relevant persons and determine the appropriate order for the interviews. One investigator will be the note taker and one will be the interviewer. It is the responsibility of the investigators to determine the outcome of the investigation.

Investigation Advocates: A trained investigation advocate from the Dominican University community (faculty/staff/student) can be present for the investigation and/or resolution process. Investigation advocates are trained in investigation protocols, advise the complainant or respondent on the proceedings, and communicate expectations about the process of investigation.

Confidentiality

As part of a just and humane procedure for mediating and investigating violations of university policy, the University values confidentiality. Although the University will record and report publicly information about the types of incidents that are reported, the types of resolution processes and outcomes that occur, and related timelines, no identifying information will be reported to the community (i.e., name, relationship to the University, and particular details about the incident) unless the University determines that disclosure of such information is legally required or necessary to address a threat to the campus community.

The University will maintain documentation of all hearings or other proceedings, which can take various forms (e.g., notes, written findings of fact, transcripts, or audio recordings, etc.). To the extent permitted by law, the confidentiality of all parties involved in the resolution of alleged or suspected violations of University policy will be observed, provided that it does not interfere with the University’s ability to conduct an investigation and take any corrective action deemed appropriate by the University.

In no event will the complainant be required to abide by a nondisclosure agreement that would prevent disclosure of the outcome.

Prohibition against Retaliation

No individual who makes a complaint alleging a violation of this policy or who participates in the investigation or resolution of such a complaint shall be subject to retaliation as a result of such activity or participation. Retaliation exists when action is taken against a complainant or participant in the complaint process that (1) adversely affects the individual’s opportunity to access or benefit from the University’s programs or activities; and (2) is motivated in whole or in part by the individual’s participation in the complaint process. Any acts of retaliation, as defined here, shall be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal for students and termination of employment for faculty and staff.