Procedures for Title IX Sexual Harrassment
Southwestern Community College will not tolerate the commission of sexual harassment by or against students, faculty, and/or staff in its educational programs or activities. It is the policy at Southwestern Community College to provide education to help prevent sexual harassment, facilitate the reporting of and provide information on supportive measures concerning sexual harassment, and, when appropriate, investigate and take disciplinary actions regarding sexual harassment where a formal complaint is filed.
Title IX Coordinator
The college’s Title IX coordinator coordinates the college’s response to reports of sexual harassment. The Title IX coordinator does not serve as an advocate for either the Complainant or the Respondent. The Title IX coordinator will explain to both parties the informal and formal processes and the provisions of confidentiality. The Title IX coordinator will coordinate with other campus officials to implement and coordinate appropriate supportive measures such as mutual no-contact orders and academic accommodations. The Title IX coordinator is trained and knowledgeable about enforcement, compliance, communication, and implementation of the college’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy. The college’s Title IX coordinator’s contact information is at right:
Sexual harassment means unwelcome behavior (verbal, written, physical) that is directed at someone because of that person’s sex or gender, and that meets any of the following definitions:
“Quid Pro Quo” Harassment
A college employee, agent, or other individual under the college’s control or authority explicitly or implicitly conditions a decision or benefit on submission to sexual conduct (e.g., sexual favors for a better grade or promotion; implicitly or explicitly threatening negative consequences if the student or employee rejects sexual advances).
Hostile Educational/Work Environment
Unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile, intimidating or demeaning environment that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to participation in the college’s educational program or activity. Examples can include persistent and unwelcome efforts to develop a sexual relationship; bullying/cyber-bullying of a sexual nature or for a sexual purpose; sexual exploitation; unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities; unwanted sexual attention; repeated and unwelcome sexually-oriented teasing, joking or flirting; verbal abuse of a sexual nature. Behavior could be verbal, non-verbal (e.g., gestures, touching), written or electronic.
Sexual assault or abuse
Defined as one of the following offenses in which one has or attempts to have sexual contact or sexual penetration with another individual without their consent:
- Rape: the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person without consent of the victim;
- Fondling: the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without consent of the victim;
- Incest: sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law; or
- Statutory rape: sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic, sexual, or intimate nature with the individual. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by:
- Current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;
- Person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
- Person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
- Person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the laws of the state of Iowa or the jurisdiction in which the incident reported occurred; and
- Any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s act under the laws of the state of Iowa or the jurisdiction in which the incident reported occurred.
Engaging in a course of conduct toward another person under circumstances that would reasonably cause a person to fear bodily injury to themselves or others or to experience substantial emotional distress.
Determination as to whether the alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment should take into consideration all of the circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. These definitions of terms used in this procedure are intended to track those in the Clery Act and Title IX. An act that might not fall within these definitions may still violate college procedures and/or codes of conduct. For instance, actions which are severe, pervasive, or inappropriate, but do not rise to this definition of a hostile educational/work environment, should still be reported and, where appropriate, the college will take remedial steps intended to end or prevent such actions in the future under applicable law and policy.
Consent must be informed and freely and actively given for each separate sexual encounter. Consent given once does not imply future consent. Consent may be shown by the exchange of mutually understandable words or actions between parties to a sexual activity. In order to be effective, consent cannot be procured by use of physical force or threats of violence toward any person. In order to give effective consent, one must not be physically or mentally incapacitated for effective decision-making and action (such as because of disability, alcohol or drug use, unconsciousness, blackout, or sleep) and must be of legal age to give consent to the sexual activity as provided by law.
Any person who alleges that they have been subjected to sexual harassment as defined by this procedure. At the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in the college’s educational programs or activities, including employment.
Any person who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment under this procedure, and over whom the college is able to exercise substantial control.
Full-time and part-time faculty and staff employed on campus or through a college program, activity, or event, including credit and non-credit adjunct instructors.
Students include admitted students, as well as students who may not be on campus but are nonetheless considered an active or enrolled student at the college.
Resources and Reporting
Reporting to Law Enforcement and Evidence Preservation
If a sexual harassment occurs, a victim should immediately relocate themselves to a place of safety and contact the Title IX coordinator or a local law enforcement agency, to the extent the sexual harassment constitutes a crime. It is important to report the incident in a timely manner. Southwestern Community college personnel will assist the victim in notifying local law enforcement authorities, if the victim requests the assistance of these personnel. The victim has the option to notify law enforcement authorities, be assisted by campus authorities such as the Title IX coordinator in notifying law enforcement authorities if the victim so chooses, but may decline to notify such authorities. Calling the police or reporting a sexual harassment crime to a college employee does not necessarily commit a victim to pressing charges. The choice to pursue charges or obtain a protection order can be made at a later date.
Filing a police report can be done by contacting the local law enforcement agency. The Creston Police Department has a non-emergency number of 641.782.8402. The Osceola Police Department has a non-emergency number of 641.342.2121. The Red Oak Police Department has a non-emergency number of 712.623.6500. (Please note, a police report or notification of a sexual harassment criminal offense can be made in an emergency situation by calling 911.) A police report will require a statement regarding the offense. If possible, bring any evidence (journal, log, photos, witnesses, etc.) and provide as much information as clearly possible. A police report is a way to document a sexual harassment crime and creates an official record which may be used as evidence in a criminal or civil case. Preserving evidence by saving text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, other communications, and keeping pictures, logs or other copies of documents could also be useful to the college if you choose to pursue the matter within the college.
After an occurrence of sexual harassment or other violence, a victim should consider seeking medical attention as soon as possible. Prompt medical attention is important both for physical/mental well-being and to preserve medical and physical evidence. Local medical attention is available at any of the following local hospitals:
Greater Regional Urgent Care/Greater Regional Health
1610 W. Townline Street, Suite 105/1700 W. Townline Street
Creston, IA 50801/Creston, IA 50801
Ph. 641.782.1181/Ph. 641.782.7091
Clarke County Hospital/Montgomery County Memorial Hospital
800 South Filmore/2301 Eastern Avenue
Osceola, IA 50213/Red Oak, IA 51566
Ph. 641.342.2184/Ph. 712.623.7000
Additionally, a free, confidential medical examination from a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) can be obtained. The SANE can conduct a sexual assault evidence collection kit to preserve forensic evidence of the assault within 120 hours after its occurrence. Bathing, douching, smoking, changing clothing and cleaning the scene of the assault is discouraged before seeking medical attention.
Orders of Protection/No-Contact Orders
Southwestern Community College does not have the authority to offer civil or criminal protective orders, but victims may be able to obtain information on how to do so from law enforcement or local courts. If an individual obtains an order of protection from a court in Iowa, the Title IX coordinator should receive a copy to be aware of any limitations or restrictions and to develop a plan to abide by the court order. The college cannot enforce a violation of a court order, but can assist an individual in contacting law enforcement to report a violation. If any terms of a court order are unclear in their application to the campus environment, it is up to the parties to seek clarification through the court – the college cannot render a legal opinion or give advice other than to develop a plan to reasonably prevent violations of the order.
Reporting to the College
Southwestern Community College is dedicated to providing a safe and healthy environment for all of its students, staff, and visitors. Reports of a harassment offense should be made to any of the following individuals, as indicated below, at these college locations:
Dean of Student Services 641.782.1413 or 641.344.6269
Director of Human Resources 641.782.1456
Night Maintenance 641.344.0941
Weekend Maintenance 641.344.0941
Red Oak Center
Center Staff 712.623.2541
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (7 a.m.–8 p.m.)
Wednesday (7 a.m.–5 p.m.)
Friday (7 a.m.–4 p.m.)
Center Staff 641.342.3531
Monday – Thursday (7 a.m.–8 p.m.)
Friday (7 a.m.–4 p.m.)
Title IX Coordinator 641.782.1456
Deputy Coordinator 641.782.1413
The college is committed to creating an environment in which those who have experienced sexual harassment are encouraged to come forward, while also protecting the privacy of all involved in an investigation. It is important that those reporting sexual harassment understand the limits on confidentiality of the individual who they may contact for such assistance. Different people, depending on their positions, have different obligations with regard to confidentiality. Under Iowa law, communications with some individuals are confidential. Those who want to maintain confidentiality should always confirm whether confidentiality applies to the communication before they make the communication. The college does not employ counseling employees subject to special confidentiality.
The college will keep confidential the identity of any individual who has made a report or complaint of sexual harassment, or has been identified as the perpetrator or respondent to any such report or complaint, or is a witness to any complaint or investigation, except as required to carry out the purposes of this procedure (including the conduct of any investigation, hearing, or judicial proceeding), applicable law, or as permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g. However, complaints about violations of this procedure Policy will be handled in strict confidence, with personally identifiable information protected and information made available only to those who need to know in order for the college to promptly and thoroughly investigate and resolve the matter. The college must balance the needs of individual students with its obligation to protect the safety and well-being of the community at large.
Crime Alert/Emergency Notification
If a report reveals there is an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees on campus or that an ongoing serious or continuing threat to the campus community exists, an emergency notification through e2Campus will be issued. The victim’s name and other personally identifying information will NOT be included in such an emergency notification. Reports of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are included in Southwestern’ s annual security report. This report may be located at http://www.swcciowa.edu/about/annual-security-report.
Any nonconfidential employee of the college who has the authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the college must immediately report any known instances of sexual harassment to the Title IX coordinator. This includes, but is not limited to, the following individuals: dean of student services, vice president of instruction, vice president of economic development, chief financial officer, director of human resources/Title IX coordinator, the college president, and other authorized personnel. Otherwise, the college strongly encourages all students, employees, or anyone with knowledge to report incidents of sexual harassment.
Timeframe for Reporting
The college encourages individuals to come forward as soon as possible to share concerns of sexual harassment. There is no time limit for a reports or complaints under the procedure, although the college’s ability to investigate and respond fully may be limited with the passage of time. In all cases, the college will conduct a fair, prompt, and equitable/impartial investigation of allegations of sexual harassment. Generally, the college will attempt to complete the process within 60 days. However, the time frames set forth in these procedures are meant to provide guidance, and the college may, as appropriate, alter or extend time frames for good cause, with written notice to the parties. The time it takes to complete the resolution of a sexual harassment complaint may vary based on the complexity of the investigation and the severity and extent of the alleged conduct, as well as on whether there is a parallel criminal investigation, or if school breaks occur during the process.
PROCEDURES FOR RESPONDING TO REPORTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Interim Supportive or Protective Measures
After receiving a report or complaint of sexual harassment, the Title IX coordinator will promptly contact the Complainant to discuss the availability of interim supportive measures and consider the Complainant’s wishes with supportive measures, whether or not law enforcement is contacted or a formal complaint is filed. The College will also implement interim or supportive action for both parties during an investigation, or when requested by the Complainant (when reasonably available). Such supportive measures may include:
- Referral to counseling and health resources;
- Modifications to course or assignment deadlines;
- A temporary safe space within the residence halls;
- Changing class or work assignments so that the parties do not share the same classes or workspace;
- Providing the alleged victim with academic support services including tutoring, modification of deadlines, etc.; and/or
- Mutual no-contact orders.
The college will keep any supportive measures confidential, to the extent confidentiality does not impair the college’s ability to provide the measures.
Supportive measures will be individualized, provided without fee or charge, are non-disciplinary in nature, and will not unreasonably burden either party. When putting supportive measures in place, the college will consider individually each situation and the circumstances presented.
Interim Suspension or Administrative Leave
The college may make a non-disciplinary interim suspension of a student Respondent on an emergency basis. Prior to suspending a student, the college will conduct an individualized safety and risk analysis and determine whether there is an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any individual. Any student so suspended will be provided with notice and an opportunity to challenge this action immediately following the removal.
The college may, in its discretion and consistent with applicable policies, procedures, and/or agreements, place an employee Respondent on administrative leave pending the outcome of a resolution process.
Initiating a Formal Complaint
When the college learns of potential sexual harassment, in most cases outreach will be done with the Complainant to identify reporting options (discussed earlier) within and outside the college and to offer supportive measures. The Title IX coordinator is available to meet to discuss those reporting options with the Complainant or answer questions from the Respondent.
A Complainant who proceeds with a formal complaint must do so in writing, and by filing a complaint with the Title IX coordinator by hard copy, email, or any other writing evidencing a physical or digital signature, or otherwise verifying the Complainant is filing the complaint. If the Title IX coordinator signs a formal complaint, the Title IX coordinator will not become a party or Complainant for purposes of the processes below.
Dismissal and Consolidation of Formal Complaints
If, at any point of the resolution process, it becomes apparent that the allegations contained within a formal complaint of sexual harassment, even if true, would not meet the scope and/or definitions in the procedure, the college will dismiss the complaint for purposes of processing under these procedures, but may proceed under a different policy or process for adjudication as the circumstances warrant.
Additionally, the college may, in its sole discretion, elect to dismiss any formal complaint of sexual harassment under the following circumstances:
- The complainant requests, in writing, the withdrawal of the formal complaint,
- The respondent is no longer employed or enrolled as a student at the institution, or
- Specific circumstances prevent the college from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination or satisfy its own burden of proof in investigating and adjudicating a formal complaint of sexual harassment.
If the college elects to dismiss a formal complaint, all parties will be notified in writing of the decision, and will be given the opportunity to appeal the decision under subsection 12 below.
The college may choose, at its sole discretion, to consolidate formal complaints where more than one Complainant and/or more than one Respondent is involved so long as the allegations of sexual harassment arise out of the same facts/circumstances. In such cases, the college may also choose to issue a single investigation report.
Notice of Investigation
Upon the filing of a formal complaint, the Title IX coordinator or designee will provide a written Notice of Investigation simultaneously to both parties notifying the parties of:
- the identities of the parties involved in the incident;
- the conduct alleged;
- the date and location of the incident;
- Respondent’s entitlement to a presumption of innocence;
- The parties’ rights to have an advisor of their choice at the party’s expense, who may be an attorney; and
- The parties’ rights to review and comment on investigative evidence.
The written notice of investigation shall notify the parties that making false statements or knowingly submitting false information during the resolution process is prohibited by the college and may constitute an independent basis for disciplinary sanctions, up to and including suspension or expulsion of a student or termination of an employee’s employment.
The notice shall be provided prior to the initial interview of any party, and within a sufficient amount of time to prepare. Parties will be also be provided advance notice in writing of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of any interview, hearing, or meeting in the investigation and resolution process.
If, during the course of investigation, the college determines that additional allegations will be investigated as part of the pending complaint, the Title IX coordinator or designee will provide written notice of the additional allegations to any identified complainant(s) or Respondent(s).
Right to an Advisor
Both a Complainant and a Respondent are given the opportunity to have support or advice through the reporting and if applicable, investigative and disciplinary processes. Either the Complainant or the Respondent may have an individual accompany them at their own expense to any meetings, interviews, or hearings related to the matter – these individuals are called “advisors.” The advisor may be a friend, victim advocate, lawyer, employee, family member, or other person chosen by the Complainant or Respondent.
The roles and expectations of a person serving as an advisor are explained as follows:
- The advisor will keep private the information shared during meetings and throughout the investigation and adjudication process and will not disclose in any manner information shared or learned in the college process.
- It is up to the Complainant and Respondent to present their information in meetings, interviews, or hearings. Advisors cannot speak for an individual and do not have an active role during any meetings, interviews, or hearings, with the exception of conducting cross-examination on behalf of a party in a live hearing.
- The college’s communication during the process will be primarily with the Complainant and Respondent, not with the advisor directly.
- A Complainant or Respondent may use a different advisor at various stages in the process, especially if their chosen individual cannot be available for a scheduled meeting, interview, or hearing. The college will work to reasonably accommodate the advisors’ schedules, but will not unnecessarily delay the process due to the advisors’ conflicts.
- The college may remove an advisor if they unreasonably delay the process, or their presence is disruptive, obstructive, or otherwise interferes with the college’s handling of the matter. In such a case, the college will notify the Complainant or Respondent, who may seek another advisor.
- College policy prohibits retaliation against any individuals for filing a complaint or participating in the investigation of the complaint. An advisor is also protected by and subject to this retaliation prohibition. This means an advisor may not retaliate against any person participating in this process, nor may anyone retaliate against an advisor.
- The college will provide an advisor, for any party, to assist with cross-examination during any hearing whereby the party has the right to engage in cross-examination, if the party does not have their own advisor. The college appointed advisor may be present for the duration of that hearing. The selection of such advisor shall be at the sole discretion of the college.
The college will select an investigator or investigators who have received annual training on how to investigate campus matters of sexual harassment and how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability. The investigation team may be composed of internal college employees, external professionals, or a combination of both.
Either the Complainant or Respondent may request, in writing, that an investigator be disqualified because of an identified conflict of interest. The Title IX coordinator will determine if a conflict exists and assign another investigator as applicable.
The burden of proof and the burden of gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination of responsibility rests with the college and not with the parties. The investigation may include, but is not limited to, interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, any witnesses identified by the parties or by the investigator as having information relevant to the complaint, and collecting and reviewing any relevant documents, communications, or physical evidence if possible.
- The investigator(s) will interview the Complainant and Respondents separately. Each party will be asked to participate in an initial interview and may be asked to participate in a follow-up interview(s) as needed.
- Each party may offer witnesses and other information, documents or other evidence relevant to the complaint, both inculpatory and exculpatory. Information, documents or other evidence provided by the parties and witnesses may be shared with both parties during the investigation.
- The order of the interviews will be determined by the investigator(s) based on the circumstances of each complaint.
- The investigator(s) will make a good faith effort to contact and interview relevant witnesses.
- In the event Complainant or Respondent request reasonable accommodations during the investigation process due to a disability, the investigator(s) will consult with the Title IX coordinator.
Neither party will be restricted in their ability to discuss the allegations or to gather and present relevant evidence; provided, however, that such communications shall not constitute harassment of or retaliation against any party.
The investigator(s) will evaluate all relevant evidence, both inculpatory and exculpatory. The investigator(s) will only access, consider, disclose, or otherwise use a party’s treatment records made or maintained by a health care provider, or other records protected under a legally recognized privilege, if the party provides the investigator(s) with voluntary, written consent to do so.
Inspection and Review of Evidence Directly Related to Allegations and the Investigation Report
Complainant and Respondent and, unless directed otherwise by the respective parties, their advisor, will be provided the opportunity to inspect all evidence directly related to the allegations of the formal complaint, including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence, and evidence that the college does not intend to rely on in reaching a determination. This evidence will not include privileged medical information (unless the institution has the voluntary, written consent of the party concerned to use that information in the investigation) and prior sexual history (with the limited exception of evidence offered to prove someone other than the respondent committed the alleged misconduct or evidence of prior sexual behavior between the parties offered to prove consent). The college may require both parties and their advisors to enter into a written agreement prohibiting the use or dissemination of evidence for any purpose other than those directly related to the parties’ participation in resolution process.
Complainant and Respondent will be given at least ten days to inspect and review the evidence collected during the college’s investigation and to submit a written response in which the investigator(s) will consider in preparing a final investigation report. The final investigation report will summarize the information and include any documents gathered. The investigative report will not include determination of responsibility for the complaint itself.
Additionally, Complainant and Respondent will be given at least an additional ten days after receiving a copy of the college’s final investigation report to respond to the investigation report, in writing. In their written response to the investigation report, Complainant and Respondent may provide written comments regarding the relevance of the evidence included in or excluded from the investigation report, provide factual or other corrections to the report, and otherwise provide context for the report.
The final investigation report will be distributed, concurrently, to both of the parties and the Title IX coordinator at least ten (10) calendar days prior to a hearing to determine responsibility.
Live Hearing and Cross-Examination
For purposes of adjudication of formal complaints of sexual harassment pursuant to the scope of this procedure, regardless of the identity of the parties involved, the college will conduct a live hearing prior to the issuance of a written decision report. The process for the live hearing is outlined below:
- Appointment of Decision-Maker(s). The college shall appoint one or more Decision-Maker(s) who are either internal or external to the college, but have been trained on the matters set forth in this procedure. If there is more than one Decision-Maker, one of the Decision-Makers shall be designated to serve as Hearing Officer during the hearing. The Hearing Officer will preside over the hearing and determine whether information or questions of parties is relevant. All procedural questions, including the decision to accept evidence and/or statements, will be made by the sole Decision-Maker or the Hearing Officer, in their sole discretion.
- Notice of Hearing. No less than ten (10) calendar days before the hearing, the Title IX coordinator will prepare and send the parties a written notice of the time and date of the hearing, as well as the identities of the Decision-Maker(s). Within five (5) calendar days either the Complainant or Respondent may request, in writing to the Title IX coordinator, that the Decision-Maker(s) be disqualified because of an identified conflict of interest. The Title IX coordinator will determine if a conflict exists.
If a party requests, the entire hearing will be conducted with the parties in separate rooms with technology enabling the Decision-Maker(s) and parties to simultaneously see and hear the witness answering questions.
- Notice of Witnesses. At least five (5) calendar days before the hearing, the Decision-Maker(s) will notify the parties in advance which witnesses (including Complainant or Respondent) they would like to be present at the hearing. The Decision-Maker(s) or designee will notify these witnesses of the hearing date and time and that their presence has been requested. Any witness called by the Decision-Maker(s) will also be expected to answer questions from the parties.
a. When notifying the parties of these witnesses, the Decision-Maker(s) will also request that the parties identify any additional witnesses they wish to have present at the hearing for cross-examination.
b. The Decision-Maker(s) or designee will notify relevant witnesses of the hearing date and time and that their presence has been requested by the party for cross-examination.
a. The hearing is closed to the general public. The parties and their advisor will be allowed to attend the entire portion of the hearing at which information is received (excluding deliberations). Admission of any other person to the hearing will be at the discretion of the Decision-Maker(s).
b. There shall be no formal pleadings, legal memorandum, or motions filed in the hearing process.
c. The Decision-Maker(s) will advise the parties if an opening statement or closing statements are permissible.
d. The college will record and/or create a transcript of all live hearings and will make that recording and/or transcript available to all parties for inspection or review.
e. The Complainant and Respondent are permitted and encouraged to attend and participate in the hearing with an advisor of their choice.
f. The college will make all evidence subject to inspection by all parties available at any hearing and will give each party equal opportunity to refer to that evidence at the hearing, including as part of cross-examination
g. Presentation of Evidence:
i. The hearing is not a second investigation of the allegations. In the hearing, the parties will be asked if they have any additional evidence they wish the Decision-Maker(s) consider, and if the parties wish to comment on the Investigation Report and evidence. Any new evidence presented by a party, if admitted as relevant, will be provided to the other party to review and provide comment;
ii. Parties will be allowed, through their advisors, to cross-examine all other parties and any witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and to ask all relevant questions and follow-up questions including those challenging party or witness credibility, directly, orally and in-real time. Any party without an advisor will be appointed an advisor by the college, with selection of the advisor being at the sole discretion of the college;
iii. Only relevant questions may be asked of a party or witness. Before a party or witness answers a question, the decision-maker will articulate whether the question is relevant and will explain the decision to exclude any question as irrelevant. Questions about prior sexual history will generally be deemed irrelevant with limited exceptions.
iv. The Decision-Maker(s) may ask questions, at any time, of the parties and of the witnesses.
The college will not allow Decision-Maker(s) to rely on any statements made by a party or witness in reaching his or her determination if that party or witness does not submit to cross-examination during a live hearing.
The Decision-Maker(s) will not draw an inference about responsibility based solely on a party’s or witness’s absence from the hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.
Standard of Proof
The determination of whether or not sexual harassment occurred will be made on the basis of whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the procedure. This standard is more formally referred to as the “preponderance of evidence” standard. In making its determination, the Decision-Maker(s) will carefully consider all of the evidence presented and follow the procedures stated in the procedure and any other applicable policies, procedures, rules, or handbook provisions in order to ensure as fair a hearing as possible for all parties.
The College Decision-Maker(s) will independently evaluate the evidence gathered. Written decisions will be provided simultaneously to the parties and include the following information:
- allegations of sexual harassment,
- procedural history (including specifics about notifications of hearings, meetings and interviews, methods used to gather evidence and hearings held),
- findings of fact supporting the decision,
- conclusions regarding application of policy to the facts,
- rationale for the decision/finding of responsibility as it applies to each allegation,
- disciplinary sanctions imposed on respondent, if any,
- whether (but not the nature of) remedies designed to restore/preserve equal access to any or all education programs or activities that will be provided to the Complainant, and
- procedure and permissible bases for appeal.
Decisions, including the imposition of any sanctions, will become final upon written notification to the parties of the outcome of an appeal or, if there is no appeal, the date on which an appeal would no longer be considered timely.
The Title IX coordinator will be responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of remedies, as well as any non-punitive or non-disciplinary supportive measures imposed.
The written decision of the Decision-Maker(s) shall be subject to appeal by both Complainant and Respondent. All parties have an equal right to appeal any final decision on the following bases so long as the bases of the appeal is significant enough to be reasonably expected to affect the outcome of the decision:
- A procedural irregularity within the investigation or adjudication process;
- New evidence not reasonably available when determination of responsibility was made;
- A conflict of interest or the bias of the Title IX coordinator, investigator or a decision-maker.
The college will notify all parties upon receipt of an appeal by any party alleging one of the bases for appeal above. Both parties will be given an opportunity to submit a written statement in support of, or challenging, the written determination. Written statements must be submitted to within five (5) business days.
The Appeal Decision-Maker(s) will determine if the decision and/or sanctions imposed will be stayed pending the outcome of the appellate decision. Except as required to explain the basis of new information, an appeal will be limited to a review of the existing record of the hearing and supporting documents.
The Appeal Decision-Maker(s) may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision regarding the violation and/or sanctions imposed. A written decision will be issued simultaneously to the parties describing the result of the appeal and the rationale therefor. The written appeal decision is the final decision of the college, and no further appeals are permitted under these procedures.
For students: sanctions include, but are not limited to, an educational sanction, reprimand, probation, restitution, fine, denial of privileges, no-contact order, housing transfer or removal, suspension, and/or expulsion or termination, as set forth in Student Services Procedure SS 15, Student Conduct, Discipline, and Appeals Procedure.
For employees: sanctions could range from warning, reprimand, suspension with or without pay, demotion, or termination of employment, and may include such other forms of disciplinary action as appropriate under applicable college procedures, handbooks/manuals, or contracts. If a final decision imposes disciplinary action which constitutes termination of college personnel entitled to the hearing/judicial review procedures of Iowa Code chapter 279, such procedures shall be followed as required by law.
Sanctions may also include supportive measures regarding the Complainant. The college will also consider providing remedies for the broader campus community, as may be necessary to remedy the effects of Sexual Harassment.
After the filing of a formal complaint, the college may facilitate an informal resolution between the parties, and at any time prior to the Decision-Maker’s determination of responsibility via the issuance of a written decision.
The Title IX coordinator will assess the severity of the alleged harassment and the potential risk of a hostile environment for others in the community to determine whether informal resolution may be appropriate. Informal Resolution will not be available to resolve allegations involving an employee sexually harassing a student.
The college will not require the parties to participate in the Informal Resolution process as a condition of enrollment, continuing enrollment, or employment or continuing employment, or of any other right conferred by the college.
The Title IX coordinator will provide the parties with a written notice setting for the allegations, the requirements of the informal resolution process set forth in this procedure, the right of any party to withdraw from the informal process and proceed with the formal complaint resolution process above, at any time prior to agreeing to a resolution; and any consequences resulting from the participation in the informal process, including the records that will be maintained or could be shared by the college. Both parties must voluntarily consent in writing to participation in the informal resolution process.
The Title IX coordinator will attempt to aid the parties in finding a mutually acceptable resolution to the complaint. This resolution will be reduced to writing and must be signed by the Complainant and the Respondent. Once both parties have voluntarily signed the written resolution, the written resolution becomes final and neither party can initiate the formal complaint resolution process above to resolve the allegations in the formal complaint. The written resolution is not subject to appeal.
The Complainant and the Respondent each may be assisted by an advisor throughout the Informal Resolution process. Advisors must be silent support persons for the parties and cannot participate directly in the informal resolution process.
Election of Formal Resolution
Either party may, at any time prior to signing an informal resolution agreement, elect to end the informal resolution process and initiate formal resolution instead. In such cases, statements or disclosures made by the parties in the course of the informal resolution will not be considered in the subsequent formal resolution.
Privacy of Informal Resolution
In order to promote honest, direct communication, information disclosed during informal resolution must remain private while the informal resolution is pending, except where disclosure may be required by law or authorized in connection with duties on behalf of the college.
Complainant Does Not Wish to Pursue Resolution or Requests Confidentiality
If the Complainant does not wish to pursue formal or informal resolution and/or requests their report remain confidential, the Title IX coordinator will inform the Complainant that the college’s ability to respond may be limited. The Title IX coordinator will only initiate a formal complaint against the wishes of the Complainant where doing so is not clearly unreasonable based on known circumstances, based on the potential impact to the college community if the allegations were true.
The Title IX coordinator or designee will inform the Complainant if the college cannot ensure confidentiality. Even if the college cannot take disciplinary action against the Respondent because the Complainant insists on confidentiality or that the complaint not be resolved, the college reserves the authority to undertake an appropriate inquiry, and/or take other reasonably necessary supportive measures to promote a safe learning environment for the Complainant and/or the entire college community.
Sexual Harassment Outside the Scope and Definitions of this Procedure
If a formal complaint is filed which alleges sexual harassment which falls outside the scope and definitions of this procedure and is dismissed, the Title IX coordinator will refer the complaint as appropriate for adjudication under another procedure or process, such as the Administrative Procedure A 25, Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying or Student Services Procedure SS 15, Student Conduct, Discipline, and Appeals Procedure, as long doing so would not interfere with any right or privilege provided to a party under Title IX.
To the extent the complaint alleges dating violence, domestic violence, domestic violence, or sexual assault which fall outside the scope of the procedure (e.g., the alleged conduct occurred outside the United States or without substantial control over the respondent and the context in which the conduct occurred), the College shall nonetheless provide the following procedural rights to the parties in the applicable adjudication process:
- The parties will each have the opportunity to participate in the investigatory and disciplinary process which is overseen by properly trained individuals;
- The parties will each have the opportunity to be advised by a personal advisor of their choice, at their expense, at any stage of the process and to be accompanied by that advisor at any meeting or hearing. An advisor may only consult and advise his or her advisee, but not speak for the advisee at any meeting or hearing, except as expressly provided for in applicable procedures;
- Decisions will be based on the preponderance of evidence standard. In other words, the investigator or adjudicator will determine if it more likely than not that the respondent violated the applicable procedure;
- The parties will be notified simultaneously in writing of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding, as well as any changes to those results or disciplinary actions prior to the time that such results become final; and
- If there is a right to appeal, the right is granted co-equally to the parties and the right will be explained in the applicable procedures. The parties will be notified simultaneously in writing of the final outcome of an appeal, if applicable.
College sanctions for such misconduct could include the range of sanctions detailed above.
Education and Training
Southwestern Community College will provide annual educational programming to promote the awareness of rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, gaining consent, and stalking. Education and training will be accomplished in a variety of means including, but not limited to, hosting campus-wide community awareness events, during which agencies provide educational information related to sexual assault and other relevant issues to students and staff, inviting subject matter experts (speakers and presenters) to campus for in-services, providing virtual training, and publishing informational posters and flyers with references to the prevention of sexual harassment and other sexual offenses that are displayed around campus.
Investigators, adjudicators and other personnel involved in the process of investigating, responding, coordinating or otherwise assisting in the adjudication of complaints of sexual harassment will receive training as required on the topics of 1) impartiality, 2) avoiding prejudgment of facts at issue, 3) conflicts of interest and bias, 4) the college’s resolution processes, 5) issues of relevance and evidence, 6) the scope of the college’s educational programs and activities, and 7) types of sexual harassment.
College investigators will also be trained in writing investigation reports and decision-makers will be trained in conducting hearings, writing decisions and the technology used in hearings. The training materials used to perform these trainings will be published on the college’s website and will ensure that relevant personnel are trained on issues related to sexual harassment and are taught how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the rights, well-being, and safety of the parties, provides an equitable process for all parties involved, and promotes accountability.