Below are frequently asked questions related to the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures for All Faculty, Students, Employees, and Third-Parties.
Sexual Harassment is the umbrella category including the offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence and domestic violence. Complete definitions of the offenses can be found here.
Complainant means an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.
Respondent means an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.
Complaint (formal) means a document submitted or signed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity against a Respondent and requesting that CWRU investigate the allegation.
Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action to engage in sexual activity. it is the responsibility of each party to determine that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. Consent CANNOT be given if a person’s ability to resist or consent is incapacitated because of a mental illness , alcohol or drugs, or physical condition or if there is a significant age or perceived power differential.
Incapacitation is a state in which someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because the person lacks the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction). Incapacitation is determined through consideration of all relevant indicators of an individual’s state and is not synonymous with intoxication, impairment, blackout, and/or being drunk. This policy also covers a person who incapacity results from a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition, involuntary physical restraint, and/or the consumption of incapacitating drugs.
It is prohibited for CWRU or any member or organization of the community to take or attempt to create adverse action by intimidating, threatening, coercing, harassing, or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by law or policy, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy and procedure.
Preponderance of the evidence is one type of evidentiary standard used in a burden of proof analysis. Under the preponderance standard, the hearing panel determines if it is more likely than not a policy was violated. Put another way, the hearing panel determines there is a greater than 50% chance that the alleged misconduct occurred.
Responsible Employees and Confidential Resources
All Case Western Reserve University employees (faculty, staff, administrators, resident assistants, teaching assistants and orientation leaders), with limited exceptions, are required to report actual or suspected sexual misconduct, sex discrimination, intimate partner violence, or stalking to the Office of Equity. Information on how Responsible Employees can report to our office can be found here.
Yes, if the complainant would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential and not shared with the Office of Equity they may speak with the following on campus resources:
- Licensed professional in University Health and Counseling Services
- Student Advocate for Gender Based Violence Prevention, Education, and Advocacy
- Inter-religious Council on-campus members of the clergy/chaplains working within the scope of their license or ordination
- Employee Assistance Services (Faculty/Staff Only)
- Survivors And Friends Empowerment (SAFE) Line can be reached 24/7 at 216.368.7777.
Additional resources are available here.
The following off-campus resources are also available for confidential support:
- Licensed professional counselors and other medical providers
- Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC) 24 hour hotline: 216.619.6192
- Cleveland Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center 24 hour hotline: 216.391.4357
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examine (SANE) Program at University Hospital. To speak with a SANE patient advocate, please call 216.844.3743.
Additional resources are available here.
The Office of Equity cannot guarantee confidentiality, but we do maintain an individual's privacy as much as possitble. Information connected to a sexual harassment report is tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis and specific details are not shared outside of a select few connected to the sexual harassment inquiry and investigation process. The university will not disseminate information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the resolution process without the written consent of the party the information is being requested on behalf of. Witnesses should also respect the privacy of information shared with them during interviews and/or hearings.
Federal regulations prevent the University from restricting the ability of either party to discuss allegations or gather and present relevant evidence. Abuse of either party’s ability to discuss the allegations may be retaliation if it is intimidating, threatening, coercive or discriminates against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX.
No. Whether you are the complainant or the respondent, the University’s primary relationship is to the student. However, in the event of major medical concerns, disciplinary status, or in instances of academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. University officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student or in a life-threatening situation. In addition, when a person is under the age of 18, or under 21 and physically or mentally impaired, reports of sexual misconduct other than sexual harassment, university officials and confidential resources may be required to notify the appropriate social service agency or the police who then may contact the parent or legal guardian.
Yes. Under Ohio law the Office of Equity will report sexual assault, stalking, dating or domestic violence to the campus police. However, the Complainant is not required to speak with the police or participate in any criminal investigation.
CWRU will offer and implement appropriate and reasonable supportive measures to the parties upon notice of alleged sexual harassment or retaliation. Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the parties to restore or preserve access to the university’s education program or activity, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the university’s educational environment, and/or deter harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation.
These actions may include, but are not limited to: Referral to counseling, medical, and/or other healthcare services; Referral to the Employee Assistance Program Impact Solutions; Referral to community-based service providers; Visa and immigration assistance; Student financial aid counseling; Education to the community or community subgroup(s); Altering campus housing assignment(s); Altering work arrangements for employees or student-employees; Safety planning; Providing campus safety escorts; Providing transportation accommodations; Implementing contact limitations (no contact orders) between the parties; Academic support, extensions of deadlines, or other course/program-related adjustments; Persona Non Grata (PNG); Timely Warnings; Class schedule modifications, withdrawals, or leaves of absence; Increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus; Any other actions deemed appropriate by the Title IX Coordinator or designee
No, complainants can receive supportive measures without submitting a formal complaint. To request supportive measures, contact the Office of Equity.
Reports of Sexual Harassment can be made to the Title IX Coordinator or the Office of Equity by visiting the Office of Equity in Thwing 318, calling 216.368.3066, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, complainants can report to any faculty or staff member including Office for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity, Office of Student Affairs, CWRU Police Department, and Office of Residence Life.
After hours reports can be made to Residence Life On-Call or CWRU Police. Residence Life and/or CWRU Police will notify the Title IX Coordinator of the Complaint. See more information here.
Reports can be submitted anonymously through the Integrity Hotline to the Title IX Coordinator or designee. Doing so may limit the university’s ability to respond comprehensively and could limit the University’s ability to offer certain supportive measures or resolution. The university will need to know the name of the Complainant in order to implement supportive measures. The Title IX Coordinator or designee will not disclose the name of the Complainant and will keep the supportive measures confidential.
If the Complainant wants to initiate the formal grievance process, they cannot stay anonymous.
If you believe that you have experienced sexual harassment, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the institution’s sexual harassment policy, you should contact the Office of Equity (not confidential), University Health and Counseling, or Student Advocate for Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response (confidential).
Yes, if you want to initiate the formal grievance process; however, you can report the incident without the identity of the respondent, for a supportive response only. Doing so may limit the university’s ability to respond comprehensively and could limit the University’s ability to offer certain supportive measures or resolution.
Yes, if the complainant submits a formal complaint and requests the University move to a formal grievance process the respondent has the right to know the identity of the complainant.
What is the Office of Equity’s response when they received notice of an allegation of sexual harassment?
Following receipt of notice or a complaint of an alleged violation of this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator or designee engages in an initial assessment, typically within one to five business days in duration. The initial assessment includes reaching out to the Complainant to offer supportive measures, provide options for submitting a formal complaint, determine if the complainant wants to move forward with either (1) a supportive and remedial response, (2) informal resolution option, or (3) a formal investigation and grievance process.
If a Complainant does not wish for their name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place, or does not want a formal complaint to be pursued, they may make such a request to the Title IX Coordinator, who will evaluate that request in light of the duty to ensure the safety of the campus and to comply with state or federal law. The goal is to provide the Complainant with as much control over the process as possible, while balancing CWRU’s obligation to protect its community. In cases in which the Complainant requests confidentiality/no formal action and the circumstances allow CWRU to honor that request, the University will offer informal resolution options, supportive measures, and remedies to the Complainant and the community, but will not otherwise pursue formal action.
DO NOT contact the complainant. You may want to contact someone who can act as your adviser or support person. See the question on advisers for more information. You may also contact the Office of Equity, where staff can explain the university’s procedures for addressing sexual harassment reports. You may also want to talk to a confidential counselor at University Health and Counseling Services, or seek other community assistance. A list of resources is available here.
Will a complainant or witness be sanctioned when reporting a sexual harassment policy violation if they used illegal drugs or alcohol?
No. The seriousness of sexual harassment is a major concern and the university does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual harassment. The university provides amnesty from any consequences for minor policy violations that occur during or come to light as the result of the complainant’s report of sexual harassment.
Complainants can still report sexual harassment to the Office of Equity when the respondent is not a member of the CWRU community to receive support resources and a remedial response. If the complainant wishes, the Office of Equity will assist the Complainant in reporting to the police and/or obtaining a protective order. In addition, the Office of Equity may be able to ban the non-CWRU respondent from campus. If the Respondent is not a member of CWRU community, the office can assist the Complainant file a complaint if the Respondent is at another institution.
Process "A" and Process "B"
The regulations implementing Title IX issued by the Department of Education in 2020, requires universities to dismiss allegations of sexual harassment that do not fall within the jurisdiction of Title IX, however, the regulations allow Universities to address this alleged sexual harassment through another process. The university has established Process “A” to address alleged misconduct that falls within the jurisdiction of Title IX and Process “B” to address alleged misconduct that falls outside of the jurisdiction of Title IX.
Process “A” applies only to qualifying allegations of sexual harassment involving students, staff, administrator, or faculty members. Process “A” applies when the following four criteria are met:
- The conduct alleged in the formal complaint would constitute sexual harassment as defined in the Policy; and
- The conduct occurred in an educational program or activity controlled by CWRU (including buildings or property controlled by recognized student organizations), and CWRU has control of the Respondent; and
- The conduct occurred against a person in the United States; and
- At the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant is participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of CWRU.
If the above criteria are not met the report will be dismissed under Title IX; however, please note that dismissing a complaint under this section for not meeting Title IX regulation is just procedural, and does not limit the CWRU’s authority to address a complaint with an appropriate process and remedies, such as Process “B”.
Also see the flowchart for the mandatory dismissal process.
I heard the new regulations require reports of sexual harassment to be dismissed if it occurred off campus?
Reports of sexual harassment that occurred off-campus and not in CWRU’s education program or activity do not fall within the jurisdiction of Title IX. However, CWRU has established Process “B” to address reports of sexual harassment outside the jurisdiction of Title IX. Process “B” applies when the complaint does not meet the requirements of Process “A.” The Office of Equity will conduct an investigation to address the matter administratively. In Process “B,” advisors are not allowed to cross-examine parties through their advisor. All questions are submitted to the chair and the chair of the panel will ask the questions.
Yes, the parties may each have an Advisor of their choice present with them for all meetings, interviews, and hearings within the resolution process, if they so choose. The parties may select whoever they wish to serve as their Advisor as long as the Advisor is eligible and available. The Advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other individual a party chooses to advise, support, and/or consult with them throughout the resolution process. The parties may choose Advisors from inside or outside of the University.
The university strongly recommends both parties have an adviser throughout the grievance process. Advisers are not required during the investigative phase or informal resolutions; however, advisers are required during a Hearing in Process "A". If a party does not have an adviser at the hearing, the University will appoint an adviser for the party. An advisor is not required under Process "B".
Yes, however, choosing an Advisor who is also a witness in the process creates potential for bias and conflict-of-interest. A party who chooses an Advisor who is also a witness can anticipate that issues of potential bias will be explored by the hearing panel.
Yes, the Office of Equity will work with the Complainant and Respondent in securing an advisor through the process. The Office of Equity can provide contact information for legal aid. The university cannot guarantee equal Advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an Advisor who is an attorney, but the other party does not or cannot afford an attorney, the university cannot prevent the use of an attorney as an advisor.
The parties may be accompanied by their Advisor in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present, including intake and interviews. Advisors should help the parties prepare for each meeting. The Advisor may not speak on behalf of the advisee to the Investigator(s) or other Decision-maker(s) except during a hearing proceeding, during cross-examination in Process "A". The Complainant and Respondent are expected to ask and respond to questions on their own behalf throughout the investigation phase of the resolution process. In Process "B", the adviser is not allowed to ask questions.
An informal resolution is an informal process by which a mutually agreed upon resolution of an allegation is reached. It can be used (1) When the parties agree to resolve the matter through an alternate resolution process, usually before a formal investigation takes place; (2) When the Respondent accepts responsibility for violating policy, and desires to accept a sanction and end the resolution process; or (3) when the Title IX Coordinator or designee can resolve the matter informally by providing supportive measures (only) to remedy the situation.
To initiate Informal Resolution, a Complainant needs to submit a formal complaint and then request an informal resolution. If a Respondent wishes to initiate Informal Resolution, they should contact the Title IX Coordinator or designee to indicate. An informal resolution can be requested at any point during the process. The university will obtain voluntary, written confirmation that all parties wish to resolve the matter through Informal Resolution before proceeding and will not pressure the parties to participate in Informal Resolution. Any party participating in Informal Resolution can stop the process at any time and begin or resume the Formal Grievance Process.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee facilitates a mediation between the parties. The mediation can take place in person, but most often will involve the Title IX Coordinator or designee, with the consent of the parties, negotiating and implementing an agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and the university without either party meeting together. The agreement can include an agreement on responsibility, sanctions, supportive measures and/or remedies.
No. An informal resolution cannot be used when the complainant is a student and the respondent is an employee, including staff, faculty, and administrators.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee will provide written Notice of the Investigation and Allegations (the “NOIA”) to the Respondent upon commencement of the Formal Grievance Process. This facilitates the Respondent’s ability to prepare for the interview and to identify and choose an Advisor to accompany them. The NOIA will include: A meaningful summary of all of allegations; the identity of the involved parties (if known); the precise misconduct being alleged; the date and location of the alleged incident(s) (if known); the specific policies implicated; and other information related to the police and procedures.
Flowcharts are available for Process "A" and Process "B".
The University will make a good faith effort to complete the resolution process within a sixty-to-seventy five (60-75) business day time period, including appeal, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX Coordinator or designee, who will provide notice and rationale for any extensions or delays to the parties as appropriate, as well as a estimate of how much additional time will be needed to complete the process. Business days are days when the University is open and does not include weekends or holidays.
Flowcharts are available for Process "A" and Process "B".
Once the decision to commence a formal investigation is made, the Title IX Coordinator or designee appoints an investigator to conduct the investigation. The investigator will be chosen from the grievance process pool or a qualified outside investigator. The investigators are neutral and are committed to providing a fair and unbiased review.
No. The investigators are selected by the Title IX Coordinator or designee.
To raise any concern involving bias or conflict of interest by the Title IX Coordinator or designee, contact the Office of General Counsel. Concerns of bias or a potential conflict of interest by any other member in the process should be raised with the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will evaluate the request and communicate with each party.
Yes, The University operates with the presumption that the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the Respondent is determined to be responsible for a policy violation by the preponderance of the evidence standard.
All investigations are thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt, and fair. Investigations involve interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses; obtaining available, relevant evidence; and identifying sources of expert information, as necessary. All parties shall have a full and fair opportunity, through the investigation process, to suggest witnesses and questions, to provide evidence and expert witnesses, and to fully review and respond to all evidence on the record.
Flowcharts are available for Process "A" and Process "B".
The Office of Equity communicates at least once a week with both parties to provide a status update on their case. Parties are encouraged to reach out to their investigator with questions at any time.
The investigators do not record interviews or other meetings as part of the investigation. Each party and witness will have an opportunity to review and verify the Investigator’s summary notes of their interview. In addition, no unauthorized audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during investigation meetings. However, hearings are recorded by the University and maintained by the Office of Equity for a period of seven (7) years.
Witnesses to the events and interactions being investigated are required to participate in the Equity process. The purpose of this expectation is to ensure that matters can be effectively investigated with the goal of keeping the campus safe. Witnesses who refuse to participate in an Equity ivestigation may be referred to the appropriate disciplinary process.
No. Questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
CWRU is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and support to qualified students, employees, or others with disabilities to ensure equal access to the university’s resolution process. Anyone needing such accommodations or support should contact the Office of Disability Resources for students and Office of Equity for employees who will review the request and, in consultation with the person requesting the accommodation and the Title IX Coordinator, determine which accommodations are appropriate and necessary for full participation in the process.
Hearing and Outcome
Within Process “A” formal complaints that are not resolved through an informal resolution or dismissed due to mandatory or discretionary dismissal standards proceeded to a panel hearing for resolution. Within Process “B” formal complaints that are not resolved through an informal resolution and where the Title IX Coordinator or designee determines that reasonable cause supports the conclusion that policy has been violated will proceed to a hearing.
The hearing panel consists of three individuals that are either faculty, staff, or students. One panel member will be designated as the chair of the hearing panel by the Title IX Coordinator or designee. The panel will not have had any previous involvement with the investigation.
No. Throughout the investigative process or informal resolution, if the parties choose to pursue an informal resolution, the parties will not be required to directly communicate with each other. During a panel hearing, parties can request to participate virtually so they are not in the same room.
Yes. If the Complainant or Respondent prefers not to attend or cannot attend the hearing in person, the party should request alternative arrangements from the Title IX Coordinator or the Chair at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. The Title IX Coordinator or the Chair can arrange to use technology to allow remote testimony without compromising the fairness of the hearing.
Participants at the hearing will include the Chair, the additional panelists, the Investigator(s) who conducted the investigation, the parties (or three (3) organizational representatives when an organization is the Respondent), Advisors to the parties, any called witnesses, CWRU General Counsel may be present, and anyone providing authorized accommodations or assistive services. The Investigator(s) will then present a summary of the final investigation report. Once the Investigator(s) present their report and are questioned, the parties and witnesses may provide relevant information in turn, beginning with the Complainant, and then in the order determined by the Chair of the panel. In Process “A” the parties/witnesses will submit to questioning by the panel and then by the parties through their Advisors. In Process “B” the parties submit questions in writing to be read by the Chair. The Panel will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question and determine sanctions if found responsible. A simple majority vote is required to determine the finding.
Flowcharts are available for Process "A" and Process "B".
In both Process “A” and Process “B” parties are able to ask questions of witnesses and each other. During Process “A” the party’s adviser will pose the proposed question orally. The proceeding will pause to allow the Chair to determine whether the question will be permitted, disallowed, or rephrased. If allowed, the chair will direct the other party or witness to answer the question. During Process “B” the party will submit questions in writing to the chair, who will then consider the question, and if allowed, will read the question to the other party or witness. The Chair will limit or disallow questions on the basis that they are irrelevant, unduly repetitious (and thus irrelevant), or abusive.
In process “A” if a party or witness chooses not to submit to cross-examination at the hearing, either because they do not attend the meeting, or they attend but refuse to participate in questioning, then the panel may not rely on any prior statement made by that party or witness at the hearing (including those contained in the investigation report) in the ultimate determination of responsibility. The panel must disregard that statement. In process “B” if a party or witness does not participate in cross-examination, without being excused by the Chair, their information may still be considered by the Panel, however, it may be given little to no weight due to the Panel being unable to assess credibility.
The university investigates allegations of sexual harassment to determine whether there is evidence to indicate a policy violation is “more likely than not” to have occurred. This evidentiary standard is called the preponderance of the evidence standard.
Sanctions for students and organizations include, but not limited to: Disciplinary Warning; Disciplinary Probation; Separation from the University; Expulsion from the University; Required Education and Training; Organizational Sanctions; Withholding Diploma; Revocation of Degree
Sanctions for employees include, but not limited to: Warning: Written or Verbal; Performance Improvement Plan; Demotion; Required Counseling; Probation; Loss of oversight or Supervisory Responsibility; Required Education and Training; Loss of Annual Pay Increase; Suspension with pay; Suspension without pay; Termination
The Title IX Coordinator or designee will share the letter, including the final determination, rationale, and any applicable sanction(s) with the parties. The Notice of Outcome will then be shared with the parties simultaneously. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official CWRU records, or emailed to the parties’ CWRU-issued email or otherwise approved account.
The outcome of a hearing can be appealed by either party on the following grounds: (1) Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter; (2) New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter; and (3) The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator(s), or Decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the specific Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.
A three-member appeal panel chosen from the Pool of panel members will be designated by the Title IX Coordinator. No appeal panelists will have been involved in the process previously, including any dismissal appeal that may have been heard earlier in the process. A voting Chair of the Appeal panel will be designated.
A party may request an appeal within three business days of delivery of the Notice of Outcome. If any of the grounds in the Request for Appeal meet the grounds listed above, then the Appeal Chair will notify the other party(ies) and their Advisors, the Title IX Coordinator, and, when appropriate, the Investigators and/or the original panel. The other party(ies) and their Advisors, the Title IX Coordinator, and, when appropriate, the Investigators and/or panel will be emailed, and/or provided a hard copy of the request with the approved grounds and then be given 3 business days to submit a response to the portion of the appeal that was approved and involves them.The Appeal Chair will collect any additional information needed and all documentation regarding the approved grounds and the subsequent responses will be shared with the Appeal Panel, and the Chair of the panel will render a decision in no more than 5 business days, barring exigent circumstances. Notification will be made in writing.
Flowcharts are available for Process "A" and Process "B".
If a student has an allegation pending for violation of the Policy on the university may place a hold on a student’s ability to graduate or certify their degree and/or to receive an official transcript/diploma.Should a student Respondent permanently withdraw from the university, the resolution process ends, as the university no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the withdrawn student. The student who withdraws or leaves while the process is pending may not return to the university, including barring from University property and events. Such exclusion applies to all campuses/programs of CWRU. Should an employee Respondent resign with unresolved allegations pending, the resolution process ends, as the university no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the resigned employee. The employee who resigns with unresolved allegations pending is not eligible for rehire with any university programs or campuses.
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions Handout prepared to explain the virtual hearing.