XII. Investigation and Resolution Processes for Cases in Which Both Parties are Students

This Section describes Rhodes’ investigation and resolution processes for cases in which both parties are students. For more details, please refer to the Procedural Guidance accompanying this policy.

A. Investigation. The College will investigate all Reports of sex/gender discrimination and sexual misconduct regardless of whether the Report becomes a Claim. The process typically will begin with intake meetings conducted by the Title IX Coordinator. The investigation phase may include interviewing the Claimant/ First-Party Reporter, the Respondent, and any witnesses; reviewing law enforcement investigation documents if applicable; reviewing relevant student files; and gathering and examining other relevant documents and evidence.

For Reports, the Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee will conduct an initial investigation. If that initial investigation demonstrates that the case may implicate the College’s Title IX obligations to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for the broader Rhodes Community, the Title IX Coordinator will treat the Report as a Claim and follow the Claim processes outlined herein and in the accompanying Procedural Guidance. If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the Report does not implicate such community safety considerations, then after the Title IX Coordinator’s investigation, implementation of any interim or remedial measures, and finalization of any investigation memo, the Title IX Coordinator will be authorized to close the matter.

For Claims, the Title IX Coordinator will appoint an investigator (“Investigator”) to handle the investigation. Following the investigation, the Investigator will draft an investigation report succinctly describing all collected information. The report will be delivered to the Title IX Coordinator, who will analyze the report to ensure that the investigation was prompt, fair, impartial, thorough, and consistent with this policy. The Investigator will not make any recommendation as to whether a policy violation has occurred or potential sanctions. Depending on how the Claim proceeds, the investigation report and other materials related to the investigation may be presented at a Formal Resolution Hearing and/or may be presented at an Informal Resolution Conference.

The College will make reasonable efforts to balance and protect the rights of the parties during any investigation commenced under this policy. Rhodes will respect the privacy of the parties and any witnesses in a manner consistent with the College’s obligations to investigate the alleged incident, and take appropriate interim and/or corrective action. The Title IX Coordinator will keep the parties reasonably informed of the status of the investigation.

Both Claimants and Respondents may utilize Advisors and Supporters throughout the investigation process, including to accompany them to any hearing, conference, or related disciplinary proceeding.

B. Informal Resolution Conference. For Claims with a student Respondent that do not involve allegations of Sexual Violence (i.e., sexual harassment of a non-physical nature) or at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, the parties may opt to pursue an Informal Resolution Conference as an alternative to a Formal Resolution Hearing. An Informal Resolution Conference is a remedies-based, non-judicial approach designed to eliminate a potentially hostile working or academic environment. This process aims to assure fairness, to facilitate communication, and to maintain an equitable balance of power between the parties. The College will not compel face-to-face confrontation between the parties or participation in any particular form of informal resolution. Depending on the form of informal resolution used, it may be possible to maintain anonymity.

The Title IX Coordinator will make an initial decision about whether a case qualifies for an Informal Resolution Conference, and if both parties then agree to pursue that path, the College will halt any investigation or scheduled Formal Resolution Hearing so that the parties can explore the possibility of informal resolution. Participation in an Informal Resolution Conference is voluntary, and either party can request to end the conference at any time and return the investigation or proceeding to its pre-conference status. Agreements reached in an Informal Resolution Conference are final and not subject to appeal.

C. Formal Resolution Hearing. A Formal Resolution Hearing is the College’s formal disciplinary proceeding through which a Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board evaluates evidence related to a Claim to determine whether a student Respondent is responsible or not responsible for a violation of this policy, based on the criteria of “a preponderance of evidence.” If the Respondent is found in violation of the policy, the Respondent may be subjected to disciplinary action.

The parties will be provided notice of the date, time and location of the hearing. At least ten (10) business days prior to a hearing, both parties and the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board will be provided access to a hearing packet containing the investigation report and other information pertinent to the hearing. The hearing may consist of testimony by the parties, witnesses and the Investigator, and may include the presentation of other evidence. The Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board will be allowed to question each witness who appears, and the parties will be allowed to ask questions through the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board. The parties will be provided notice of the outcome of the Board’s deliberations, including the determination of whether the Respondent was found responsible or not responsible for the alleged violation(s) and applicable sanction(s). Decisions made in a Formal Resolution Hearing may be appealed. The Title IX Coordinator will be authorized to stay sanctions pending appeal and/or make further accommodations that are consistent with the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board’s decision.

D. Appeals. Either Claimant or Respondent may appeal any Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board decision. Appeals can only be raised on one or more of the following grounds: (1) to determine whether there was a material deviation from the procedural protections provided; (2) to consider new facts or information sufficient to alter the decision that were not known or knowable to the appealing party before or during the time of the hearing; (3) to determine whether the decision reached was based on a preponderance of evidence; or (4) to determine whether the sanctions were disproportionate to the findings. The appeal will be reviewed and determined by an Appeals Board, based on the grounds contained in the appeal statement. Appeals decisions are final and not subject to further review.