Introduction

To improve the university’s ability to foster a just and humane campus for all, violations of these policies will not be tolerated.  As such, the university community is asked to report incidents that may 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, where possible, address its effects. The University takes these reports seriously and is committed to following up on reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

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 findings determine if parties are responsible for violating university policy. Findings may include 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 stages to the process: Receipt of Incident Reports, Intake, and determination of Interim Remedial Actions, including an option for mediation when appropriate, a notice of One Process Concern or a Notice of Investigation, in cases where a full investigation occurs. (Stage 1), Investigation, completion of investigative report and issuance of letters of findings (Stage 2), Review of request for Review of Finding, Convening a Review Board (Stage 3), and the 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 is specialized, members of the Dominican University community should serve in only one capacity during an academic year.

  • Confidential Resource (CRs): A Confidential Resource is a member of the Dominican University community who is trained to offer resources and support, explain how the Dominican’s grievance and disciplinary system works, and help navigate the reporting process. Confidential Resources may talk to a victim/survivor but is required to report the details of an incident to the Title IX Coordinator without including identifying information.
  • 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.
  • Confidential Advisors: A Confidential Advisor is a person who has received 40 hours of training and 6 hours of training updates each year.  The Confidential Advisor is trained in sexual assault counseling and may have privileged communications with students related to sexual assault.
  • Responsible Employees: Responsible employees is a university employee who has the authority to redress sexual violence or who has the duty to report such incidents.  All university employees and contracted staff are responsible employees except licensed mental health professionals, and confidential advisors. Confidential resource persons are exempt from full disclosure.  The following groups of student employees are designated as responsible employees: Diversity Advocates, Resource Desk Assistants, Resident Advisors, Student Security, Welcome Desk Workers, Circulation Desk Attendants, Peer Advisors, and University Ministry student staff.
  • Mandatory Reporters: All University employees, contracted staff, designated student employees, and Trustees are required to report concerning behaviors, including discrimination, harassment and crimes by employees. In addition, state law imposes mandates with respect to the reporting of child abuse and neglect. When an employee or trustee becomes aware of an alleged act of discrimination, sexual harassment or assault, child abuse or neglect, the employee must promptly contact the Title IX Coordinator or the CDO. In cases of child abuse or neglect, the employee must also contact the Department of Children and Family Services hotline. If child abuse or neglect is suspected or disclosed, the reporter should not delay a call to the hotline, even if all the information about the victim or the incident is not readily available. The Illinois Child Abuse Hotline is 1(800) 25-ABUSE or 1(800) 252-2873.

Reporters should be prepared to provide a phone number where they can be reached in case the Hotline must contact the reporter for additional information.  

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

Dominican University strictly prohibits any adverse action against any individual for reporting, providing information, or exercising one’s rights under non-discrimination or sexual misconduct policies. No individual who makes a complaint alleging a violation of these policies 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.

Free Expression and Academic Freedom

Dominican University is firmly committed to free expression and academic freedom. We are also committed to creating and maintain a safe, health, and harassment -free environment for all members of our community. These are both legitimate interests but discrimination, intimidation, harassment and retaliation against members of the community are not protected expression. The University will investigate retaliation that involve individual statements, expression or speech.