The following is an accessible alternate version of the UH System Sexual Misconduct Policy (rev. Aug. 13, 2020). The policy is published in PDF by the UH System. Please contact Rebecca Lake if you have any questions about the policy and services available at University of Houston-Victoria.
Rebecca Lake, Senior Director for Equal Access
University West 116, (361)570-4835
University of Houston System Sexual Misconduct Policy
University of Houston System
Section: General Administration
Area: Legal Affairs
Subject: Sexual Misconduct Policy
November 29, 2012; Last Revised August 13, 2020
This Policy provides the exclusive mechanism for the University of Houston System and its universities (“University”) to manage the non-criminal reporting of Sexual Misconduct, as defined in this Policy, by providing a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution process.
Consistent with its commitment to addressing Sexual Misconduct, the University complies with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in Education Programs or Activities, as defined in this Policy, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), which prohibits sex discrimination in employment, Section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (also known as the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act)and applicable state law, including Texas Education Code §51.259 and §51.295. The University also prohibits the crimes of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking as defined by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
The University is committed to maintaining and strengthening an educational, working and living environment where students, faculty, staff, visitors, and applicants for admission or employment are free from sex discrimination of any kind. Sexual Misconduct, a form of sex discrimination, is antithetical to the standards and ideals of the University. The University will take appropriate action in an effort to eliminate Sexual Misconduct from occurring, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects by conducting educational programs, including ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns, designed to promote awareness, reduce risk, and prevent Sexual Misconduct. In implementing this Policy, the University, to the greatest extent practicable, ensures equal access for persons with disabilities.
This Policy includes two separate grievance processes in order to comply with Title IX regulatory requirements and continue to address Sexual Misconduct that occurs outside of Title IX jurisdiction: Title IX Grievance Procedures and UH System Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures. The University acknowledges that Sexual Misconduct occurring outside of an Education Program or Activity, as defined in the Title IX regulations and this Policy, can have a direct impact on the campus experience, depriving individuals who experience it of their fundamental ability to live, learn, and work with dignity. It is essential that university environments foster gender equality and provide safe spaces in which all students can learn, and all employees can work. Students’ equal access to education depends on effective policies and responses by universities to address Sexual Misconduct.
Students and employees may be disciplined under this Policy for Sexual Misconduct on University grounds or off University grounds when the incident occurs in connection with an Education Program or Activity, when the incident has a substantial connection to an employee's duties or the interests of the University, or when the incident poses a threat of serious mental or bodily harm to any member of the University community, even if the student or employee is or may be penalized by civil or criminal authorities for the same act.
3.1 Actual Knowledge: Notice of actual or alleged Sexual Misconduct to a University’s Title IX Coordinator or any official of the University who has authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the University. Other officials of the University who have authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the University include all elementary school employees.
3.2 Complainant: An individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute Sexual Misconduct, as defined in this Policy.
3.3 Confidential Resource Employee: A University employee designated as a person with whom students may speak confidentially about Sexual Misconduct, who receives information regarding such an incident under circumstances that render the employee’s communications confidential or privileged under other law. Such employees include, but are not limited to:
3.3.1 The staff of a counseling or health center acting in their capacity as a counseling or health provider; and
3.3.2 Individuals who are associated with the University in the role of a pastoral counselor or confidential advisor acting in that capacity.
3.4 Consent: An informed and freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity by a capacitated and legally competent person. See Section 5 – Consent for further guidelines on Consent.
3.5 Discrimination: Treating an individual or members of a Protected Class less favorably because of their membership in that class or having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on Protected Class members.
3.6 Education Program or Activity: Such locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercised substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the Title IX Sexual Misconduct occurs, and also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the University, whether such a building or activity is on-campus or off-campus.
3.7 Formal Complaint: A document filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging Sexual Misconduct against a Respondent and requesting that the University investigate the allegation(s) of Sexual Misconduct.
3.7.1 A document filed by a Complainant means a document or electronic submission (such as by electronic mail or through an online portal provided for this purpose by the University) that contains the Complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing a Formal Complaint.
3.7.2 Where the Title IX Coordinator signs a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator is not a Complainant or otherwise a party under this Policy.
3.8 Hearing Advisor: An individual acting on behalf of a named party in Title IX Grievance Procedures. Any named party will have the same opportunity to have a Hearing Advisor of their choice present during any hearing held in accordance with the Title IX Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures. This Advisor may be an attorney, provided at the party’s expense, with no cost to the University. If an individual is unable to obtain a Hearing Advisor, the University will provide one to any named party at no charge.
3.9 Hearing Board: The group of faculty and staff members from which a Hearing Panel may be selected in a UH System Sexual Misconduct hearing.
3.10 Hearing Officer: An individual not affiliated with the University who serves over the hearing process in a Title IX Grievance Procedures hearing and issues a Written Determination regarding responsibility and any sanction or remedy as applicable.
3.11 Hearing Panel: The four (4) faculty and/or staff members presiding over a hearing in a UH System Sexual Misconduct hearing.
3.12 Incapacitation: A person is incapacitated (not legally competent) and cannot consent to sexual activity if the person is unconscious or otherwise unable to resist, is unaware that sexual activity is occurring, and/or does not have the legal capacity to consent.
3.12.1 A person may be unable to consent when they are mentally or physically incapacitated because of the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication and as a result are rendered temporarily incapable of understanding, appraising, or controlling their conduct.
3.12.2 A person’s incapacity to understand, appraise, or control their conduct may be analyzed based on surrounding factors including, but not limited to, hallucinations, blackouts, seizures, vomiting, slurred speech, disorientation, or lack of physical or mental coordination.
3.12.3 When a Respondent has been accused of engaging in sexual activity with an incapacitated person, the perspective of a reasonable person will be applied to determine whether the Respondent knew or should have known about the Complainant’s inability to give consent.
3.13 Protected Class: A class of persons who are protected under applicable federal or state laws against discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy), genetic information, religion, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression or any other legally protected status.
3.14 Personal Advisor: Any named party is entitled to have one (1) personal advisor of their choice present during any meeting related to the investigation of Sexual Misconduct. This advisor may be an attorney, provided at the party’s expense, with no cost to the University. Personal Advisors may not speak on behalf of the individual they are advising or be a witness at any hearing that they attend in the capacity of Personal Advisor or Hearing Advisor. A Personal Advisor may ask to briefly suspend any meetings, interviews, or hearings to provide private consultation related to the meeting or proceeding in process. An individual serving as a Personal Advisor may serve as a Hearing Advisor under Title IX Grievance Procedures.
3.15 Respondent: An individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute Sexual Misconduct.
3.16 Responsible Employee: A University employee who has the duty to report incidents of Sexual Misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate designee, or an employee whom an individual could reasonably believe has this duty. Responsible employees include all administrators, faculty, and staff, except Confidential Resource Employees.
3.17 Sexual Misconduct: Any conduct defined in this Policy as Title IX Sexual Misconduct or UH System Sexual Misconduct. Please see Appendix A–Definitions for more information.
3.18 Supportive Measures: Non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the Complainant or Respondent regard less of whether a Formal Complaint has been filed.
3.19 Title IX Coordinator: The person who has been designated on each University’s campus to coordinate efforts to comply with and implement this Policy. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for conducting the administrative investigation of reports of Sexual Misconduct and is available to discuss options, provide support, explain University policies and procedures, and provide education on relevant issues. The Title IX Coordinator may designate one or more Deputy Title IX Coordinators. The Title IX Coordinators for each University are located here:
University of Houston System/University of Houston
Assistant VC/VP for Equal Opportunity Services
University of Houston – Downtown
Title IX Coordinator
University of Houston – Clear Lake
Title IX Coordinator
University of Houston–Victoria
Title IX Coordinator
3.20 Title IX Sexual Misconduct: Please see Appendix A –Definitions.
3.21 UH System Sexual Misconduct: Please see Appendix A –Definitions.
3.22 University-Affiliated Activity: Any activity on or off campus that is initiated, aided, authorized, or supervised by the University or by an officially recognized University organization.
3.23 University Premises: Buildings or grounds owned, leased, operated, controlled, or supervised by the University.
3.24 Written Determination: The Hearing Officer will provide a written decision of responsibility simultaneously to the Title IX Coordinator and the parties. This document will contain both the finding(s) and the sanction(s)or remedies, if applicable.
4.1 The University has jurisdiction over allegations of Sexual Misconduct occurring on the University’s premises, at University-Affiliated Activities, and/or where the Respondent or Complainant are either a student, faculty member, staff member, visitor to campus, or applicant for admission or employment. Consistent with its other codes of conduct, the University has jurisdiction over allegations of UH System Sexual Misconduct occurring off campus when the incident has a substantial connection to an employee's duties or the interests of the University, or when the incident poses a threat of serious mental or bodily harm to any member of the University community. Other than the University Police Department which may conduct a criminal investigation as appropriate, the University does not have jurisdiction over allegations between visitors or non-affiliated persons under this Policy.
4.2 The University has the discretion to investigate conduct occurring off University premises or at a non-University-Affiliated Activity if either the Complainant or Respondent is University-Affiliated.
4.3 Proceedings may continue even if a party is no longer employed with the University. Per state law, proceedings will continue even if a party is no longer a student of the University.
4.4 The University’s jurisdiction over Title IX Sexual Misconduct is limited to incidents that meet the definition of Title IX Sexual Misconduct as well as the following requirements:
4.4.1 The University received Actual Knowledge of allegations of Title IX Sexual Misconduct;
4.4.2 The allegation of Title IX Sexual Misconduct occurred in an Education Program or Activity including any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the University, whether such a building or activity is on-campus or off-campus;
4.4.3 The allegation of Title IX Sexual Misconduct occurred against a person in the United States; and
4.4.4 At the time of filing a Formal Complaint, the Complainant had been participating in or attempting to participate in the University’s Education Program or Activity.
4.5 If the University is notified that a member of the University community has reported an incident of Sexual Misconduct, but the University does not have jurisdiction to handle the case, the University will still take reasonable steps to ensure the individual’s safety while on campus and to offer the individual information about resources both on campus and in the community.
5.1 Consent can be expressed either by words or by clear and unambiguous actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of each instance of sexual activity.
5.2 It is the responsibility of the person who wants to initiate a sexual activity to ensure that they have the consent of the other(s) to initiate each instance of sexual activity before they initiate the sexual activity.
5.3 Consent is active, not passive, and cannot be inferred from the absence of a “no.” Without words or actions demonstrating permission, silence, lack of protest, or lack of resistance cannot be assumed to show Consent.
5.4 The existence of a dating relationship or a previous sexual relationship between the persons involved does not provide the basis for an assumption of consent to future sexual activity.
5.5 Being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is never a defense for not obtaining consent.
5.6 A person cannot consent if physical force or violence is used or threatened.
5.7 Sexual Misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances.
5.8 Alcohol or other drugs can lower inhibitions and create an atmosphere of confusion over whether consent is freely and effectively given. Consent is difficult to discern when a person has ingested alcohol and/or other drugs. Anyone wanting to initiate sexual activity is strongly encouraged to err on the side of caution when either they or the person(s) they want to initiate the activity with appear(s) to be intoxicated or there is reasonable cause to believe any individual is intoxicated.
6. Reporting Incidents
6.1 Any person, regardless of whether they are the alleged victim, may report Sexual Misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, by electronic mail, by telephone, or by the University’s electronic reporting system.
6.2 Anonymous Reporting
6.2.1 Alleged victims and others not required to report may report Sexual Misconduct anonymously through the web-based reporting system, the Fraud and Non-Compliance Hotline.
6.2.2 The web address for the Fraud and Non-Compliance Hotline[.]
6.2.3 Reports received through this site will be reviewed and investigated if sufficient information is provided to conduct an investigation.
6.2.4 The University will work with anyone who is identified via a Fraud and Non-Compliance report or subsequent investigation to provide anonymity to the full extent possible under this Policy.
6.2.5 Upon receipt of an anonymous report that implicates this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator will invite the reporter to formalize the report into a Formal Complaint. While Supportive Measures are available to anonymous reporters without filing a Formal Complaint, finding(s) and sanction(s) or remedies, if applicable, require a Formal Complaint as described in Appendix B and C.
6.2.6 If the anonymous reporter declines to pursue a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator may pursue a complaint on behalf of the University after considering the factors explained in Section 14.2.3.
6.2.7 Complainants have the right to decide if and when they report the incident(s) to the University, law enforcement, or to any other member of the University community. The University strongly encourages individuals to access services, such as counseling and medical help, that can respond to the immediate mental and physical impact of an act of Sexual Misconduct. Individuals can access these services regardless of whether they report what happened.
6.3 The University strongly encourages reporting as soon as possible. Prompt reporting may preserve options that delayed reporting does not, including immediate police response and the preservation of physical evidence that may be necessary to prove an alleged criminal offense or to obtain a protective order.
6.4 Once an individual alerts the University of an alleged violation of this Policy the Complainant will be provided with written information including this Policy, their rights, reporting options, and support resources regardless of whether the incident(s) occurred on or off campus.
6.5 Complainants have multiple options regarding the involvement of law enforcement and campus authorities, including:
- The option to notify proper law enforcement authorities including on campus and local police;
- The option to be assisted by campus authorities in notifying law enforcement authorities; and
- The option to decline to notify such authorities.
6.6 Anyone can receive information about this Policy, their rights under the Policy, reporting options, and support resources without disclosing facts related to the alleged incident.
6.7 Each University may have their own programs and services related to the issues covered by this Policy so there may be additional resources for information on your campus.
7. Employee Required Reporting
7.1 To comply with Texas Education Code Chapter 51, an employee of the University who, in the course and scope of their employment, witnesses or receives information regarding the occurrence of an incident that the employee reasonably believes constitutes Sexual Misconduct and is alleged to have been committed by or against a person who was a student enrolled at or an employee of the University at the time of the incident regardless of when or where the incident occurred shall promptly report the incident to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
7.2 This section does not apply to an incident in which the employee was a victim of Sexual Misconduct.
7.3 A Confidential Resource Employee, in making a report under this section, will state only the type of incident reported and may not include any information that would violate someone’s expectation of privacy.
7.4 In addition, some individuals who are not Responsible Employees who must share reports under this section with the Title IX Coordinator include, but are not limited to:
- Elected Members of Student Government Associations; and
- Individuals, including students, serving as responsible persons, even if they are volunteers, at a University Education Program or Activity. These individuals could be teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants, chaperones, peer mentors, or retreat counselors. These individuals are required to report because they are either in a position to do something about the alleged action(s), may be perceived to be able to do something about the alleged action(s), or would otherwise have to report known or suspected incidents of Sexual Misconduct.
7.5 Anyone who is required to report known or suspected violations of this Policy must promptly contact the Title IX Coordinator and disclose what they know about the alleged incident(s). Even if a required reporter is a Campus Security Authority and must provide a report to law enforcement or other campus departments, the reporter must also directly notify the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.
7.6 Reports should include all information concerning the incident known to the reporting person, including all relevant details such as the following:
- The name of the Respondent (if known) and any affiliation with the University (if known);
- The name of the Complainant and any affiliation with the University (if known);
- The names of other people who may be involved;
- Relevant facts, including date, time, and location of the incident(s); and
- Whether a Complainant has expressed a desire for confidentiality in reporting the incident.
7.7 The University will comply with all applicable state laws regarding mandatory reporting for known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child or a vulnerable adult.
7.8 Individuals who are not required to report and who are not bound by state confidentiality laws are still encouraged to report known or suspected violations of this Policy and may do so through the methods listed in this Policy.
7.9 Public awareness events such as “Take Back the Night,” candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak outs,” or other forums in which members of the community disclose incidents of violations of this Policy are not considered notice to the University for the purpose of triggering its obligation to investigate.
However, information regarding rights under this Policy will be available to anyone who discloses Sexual Misconduct at one of these types of events.
7.10 Reporting to Outside Entities: An individual wishing to make a complaint may also contact the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR),to complain of sex discrimination, including Sexual Misconduct:
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620
Dallas, Texas 75201
Phone: (214) 661-9600
Fax: (214) 661-9587
Employees may also contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to complain of sex discrimination, including Sexual Misconduct:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Houston District Office
1919 Smith Street, 6th Floor
Houston, Texas 77002
Phone: (800) 669-6820
Fax: (713) 651-4987
8. Immediate Assistance
8.1 Medical Assistance: An individual who experiences any form of Sexual Misconduct is encouraged to seek immediate medical care. Preserving DNA evidence can be key to identifying the perpetrator in a sexual violence case. Victims can undergo a medical exam to preserve physical evidence with or without police involvement. If possible, this should be done immediately. If an immediate medical exam is not possible, individuals who have experienced a sexual assault may have a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) performed by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) within 120 hours of the incident. With the examinee’s consent, the physical evidence collected during this medical exam can be used in a criminal investigation; however, a person may undergo a SAFE even without contacting, or intending to contact, the police. To undergo a SAFE, please go to the nearest hospital that provides SAFE services. For more information about the SAFE, seethe University of Houston System’s webpage dedicated to resources and reporting information related to sexual misconduct.
The cost of the forensic portion of the exam is covered by the law enforcement agency that is investigating the assault or, in cases in which a report will not be made to the police, the Office of the Attorney General. This does not include fees related to medical treatment that are not a part of the SAFE. An individual who experiences any form of sexual, domestic, or dating violence is encouraged to seek immediate medical care because they may be prescribed medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy even if the police are not contacted or if a SAFE is not performed.
8.2 Police Assistance: Because the prohibited actions outlined in this Policy may also constitute a criminal act(s), individuals seeking emergency assistance or who want to file a criminal report may contact their University police department or the appropriate local law enforcement agency. In addition to any possible criminal action, the University Police will forward notice of the report to the Title IX Coordinator. Reporting to the police helps maintain future options regarding criminal prosecution. Generally, when the victim reports the incident, a police officer will take a statement from the victim regarding what happened. An adult victim can request that their identity be kept confidential. Anyone wishing to file a report with University police can make a report to their University’s Police Department as noted below:
University of Houston –Sugar Land
A campus security station is located in BH 174 and the AMG lobby. Security can be reached at the duty desk at 832-842-2929.
University of Houston Clear Lake–Pearland
University of Houston -Downtown Off-campus Locations (UHD @LSC Cy-Fair, UHD@LSC Kingwood and Northwest)
281-290-5911; Lone Star College Police Department
University of Houston –Katy
A campus security station is located on the first floor lobby of the UH and UHV–Katy campus. Security can be reached at the duty desk at 832-841-3911.
8.3 Counseling Assistance: A person who has experienced sexual violence is strongly encouraged to seek medical and psychological care even if they do not plan to request a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) or report the assault to the police.
8.4 Complainants will be provided written notification about existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, student financial aid and other services available both within the University and in the community.
9. Supportive Measures, Emergency Removal, & Leave during Agency Investigation
9.1 Supportive Measures
9.1.1 Once the Title IX Coordinator receives a report of an alleged act of Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator will promptly contact the Complainant and Respondent in writing to discuss the availability of Supportive Measures, consider the Complainant’s and Respondent’s wishes with respect to Supportive Measures, inform the Complainant of the availability of Supportive Measures with or without filing a Formal Complaint, and explain to the Complainant the process for filing a Formal Complaint.
9.1.2 The University will treat the parties equitably by offering Supportive Measures to Complainants and Respondents.
9.1.3 Supportive Measures are offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the Complainant or Respondent.
9.1.4 The University’s Supportive Measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to the University’s Education Program or Activity without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the University’s educational, living, and working environment, or to deter Sexual Misconduct.
9.1.5 Supportive Measures may include, but are not limited to:
- Counseling for a Complainant or Respondent through a University-affiliated counseling center while the processes outlined in this Policy are ongoing;
- Extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments;
- Modifications of work or class schedules;
- Campus escort and transportation services;
- Mutual restrictions on contact between the parties;
- Changes in work or housing locations;
- Leaves of absence; or
- Increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus
9.1.6 The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of Supportive Measures.
9.1.7 The University will honor any order of protection, no-contact order, restraining order, or similar lawful order issued by any criminal, civil, or tribal court.
9.1.8 Failure to adhere to the parameters of any Supportive Measure may be considered a separate violation of this Policy and may result in disciplinary action.
9.2 Emergency Removal & Leave During Agency Investigation
9.2.1 Once the Title IX Coordinator receives a report of an alleged act of Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator will undertake an individualized safety and risk analysis to determine whether an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student, employee, or other individual arising from the allegations of Sexual Misconduct justifies emergency removal or Leave During Agency Investigation pending further investigation. At the conclusion of the safety and risk analysis, the Title IX Coordinator will make a recommendation for removal to the appropriate office. The appropriate office will provide Respondent with notice and an opportunity to challenge the decision immediately following their removal.
9.2.2 An employee Respondent may be placed on Leave During Agency Investigation, in accordance with the University’s policy and procedures on employee Leave During Agency Investigation during the pendency of a grievance process, as outlined in this Policy.
10. Dismissals and Grievance Procedures
10.1 Classification of Alleged Sexual Misconduct
10.1.1 Before, during, or after the completion of the investigative report, the Title IX Coordinator will make a determination on the classification of the alleged Sexual Misconduct, in order to determine the appropriate procedures prescribed in this Policy.
10.1.2 For purposes of determining the appropriate grievance procedure, jurisdiction, and dismissal requirements, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the Sexual Misconduct is classified as either Title IX Sexual Misconduct or UH System Sexual Misconduct, both as defined in this Policy.
10.2 Title IX Sexual Misconduct
10.2.1 If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the alleged Sexual Misconduct constitutes Title IX Sexual Misconduct, the requirements in this section will apply, including the Title IX Grievance Procedures, jurisdiction, and dismissal requirements. The Title IX Coordinator may dismiss a Formal Complaint from the Title IX Grievance Procedures that does not meet the jurisdictional requirements as described below at any time.
10.2.2 Title IX Dismissals
A. Permissive Dismissals–A Formal Complaint may be dismissed from the Title IX Grievance Procedures if:
- A party is no longer employed with the University;
- A Complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the Formal Complaint or any allegation there in;
- Specific circumstances prevent the University from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the allegations contained in the Formal Complaint;
- The Complainant expressly or by action declines to cooperate with the investigation;
- An appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved; or
- The University no longer has control over an employee Respondent and, when appropriate, remedies have been offered to the Complainant.
B. Mandatory Dismissals
- A Formal Complaint must be dismissed from the Title IX Grievance Procedures when the conduct alleged would not constitute Title IX Sexual Misconduct as defined in this Policy.
- While the University must dismiss a Formal Complaint from the Title IX Grievance Procedures when the Formal Complaint does not meet the jurisdictional or definition requirements for purposes of Title IX Sexual Misconduct, such a dismissal does not preclude action under another provision of this Policy or the University’s codes of conduct.
- The University will simultaneously notify the parties of dismissal of a Formal Complaint from the Title IX Grievance Procedures as well as the reasons for dismissal.
- The parties may appeal a Title IX dismissal through the process described in the Written Appeals section of Appendix B–Title IX Grievance Procedures.
10.3 UH System Sexual Misconduct
10.3.1 If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the alleged Sexual Misconduct constitutes UH System Sexual Misconduct, as defined in this Policy, the requirements in this section will apply, including the grievance procedure, jurisdiction, and dismissal requirements.
10.3.2 UH System Sexual Misconduct Dismissals
A. The University reserves the right to dismiss a Formal Complaint from the UH System Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedure for the following non-exclusive reasons:
- The Complainant expressly or by action declines to cooperate with the investigation;
- An appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved; or
- The University no longer has control over the Respondent if they are an employee and, when appropriate, remedies have been offered to the Complainant.
10.3.3 If the University decides to not proceed with a Formal Complaint under the UH System Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedure, the University will notify the Complainant within five (5) business days of the decision explaining the reason(s) for this decision. This notification will also include a statement informing the Complainant of their ability to file a new complaint with additional information and this new complaint will be assessed on its own merits.
11.1 The University will keep confidential the identity of any individual who has made a report or Formal Complaint of Sexual Misconduct, any Complainant, any Respondent, and any witnesses, except as may be necessary to conduct an investigation, hearing, or judicial proceeding, or except as permitted by FERPA.
11.2 If a party is a student, the student will need to sign a FERPA Release form for the Personal or Hearing Advisor to be present at any meeting or proceeding. The FERPA Release allows staff to speak freely about the student’s case when the Personal or Hearing Advisor is present. The student may revoke the FERPA release in writing if they choose to no longer have the individual serve as their Personal or Hearing Advisor or have access to the matter.
11.3 The University will maintain as confidential any Supportive Measures provided to the Complainant or Respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the University to provide the Supportive Measures.
11.4 The University will protect the anonymity of all individuals involved in a report or a Formal Complaint by refusing to disclose their identifying information to anyone outside the University to the maximum extent permitted by law.
11.5 The University has great respect for the privacy of the parties identified in a report or Formal Complaint. Under state law, however, Responsible Employees who receive information of alleged Sexual Misconduct must share that information with the Title IX Coordinator. As such, the University may need to act to maintain campus safety and must determine whether to investigate further, regardless of the Complainant’s request for confidentiality or request to not investigate a report submitted to the Title IX Coordinator.
11.6 In making determinations regarding requests for confidentiality including Complainants’ requests to not investigate, dismiss Formal Complaints, and/or to not disclose identifying information to Respondents, the Title IX Coordinator must deliberately weigh the rights, interests, and safety of the Complainant, the Respondent, and the campus community. The University must consider the following non-exclusive factors when determining whether to investigate an alleged incident of Sexual Misconduct:
- The seriousness of the alleged incident;
- Whether the University has received other reports of alleged Sexual Misconduct by the alleged Respondent;
- Whether the alleged incident poses a risk of harm to others; and
- Any other factors the University determines relevant.
11.7 Under state law, if the Complainant requests in writing that the University not investigate a report, the University must inform the Complainant of the decision whether or not to investigate.
11.8 When a Formal Complaint is signed by the Title IX Coordinator rather than filed by a Complainant, the University is required to send both parties details about the allegations, including the identity of the parties, if known. If the Complainant's identity is unknown, the grievance process under this Policy may proceed if the Title IX Coordinator determines it is necessary to sign a Formal Complaint, even though the written notice of allegations required in this Policy does not include the Complainant’s identity.
11.9 Community-based programs not affiliated with the University may also be confidential resources and would follow their own policies and procedures regarding reporting duties.
11.10 The University will protect the confidentiality of Complainants and other necessary parties while ensuring Clery Act statistical reporting requirements, specifically, such reporting will be done without inclusion of personally identifying information about a Complainant.
12.1 An individual who believes that they are the subject of unlawful Sexual Misconduct may choose to deal with the alleged offender directly through a face-to-face discussion, a personal telephone conversation, e-mail correspondence, or letters. In some cases, this approach may resolve the situation; in others, it may be ineffective or place the individual in an uncomfortable, insecure, or compromised position.
12.2 Under no circumstances should an individual feel pressured to address the alleged offender directly or handle the matter alone, and a decision not to confront a person alleged to be discriminatory or harassing will not be treated negatively under this Policy.
13. Preliminary Response Procedures
13.1 A report of a violation of this Policy does not automatically begin the formal grievance procedures outlined in this Policy. A Complainant who reports an incident of Sexual Misconduct may seek a formal grievance process by filing a Formal Complaint as described in Section 14of this Policy.
13.2 The University will determine the appropriate preliminary response to each report based on the information available at the time of the report and, whenever possible, with the input of the Complainant.
13.3 When the University receives a report regarding an alleged violation of this Policy, it will take reasonable measures to do the following:
- Contact the Complainant and the Respondent to notify them of their rights and options under this Policy;
- Implement any appropriate Supportive Measures; and
- Conduct a preliminary investigation, as appropriate.
13.4 Anyone who reports Sexual Misconduct will be notified of their right to speak to the appropriate law enforcement agency and file a report for possible criminal prosecution.
13.5 The processes outlined in this Policy is separate from any criminal proceeding related to the reported behavior and may occur while criminal proceedings are ongoing.
13.6 Proceedings under this Policy will not be dismissed or delayed because criminal prosecution is pending, criminal charges have been dismissed, or the criminal charges have been reduced.
14. Filing a Formal Complaint & Investigation
14.1 If a Complainant wishes to pursue official University action against a Respondent for alleged Sexual Misconduct, they may follow the steps described in this section to file a Formal Complaint, which will initiate an investigation. At the end of the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will make a determination on which grievance process (as described in Section 15and 16ofthis Policy) is appropriate based on jurisdictional requirements.
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* This graphic explains the formal complaint progress. A Complainant files a formal complaint, the Respondent(s) have an opportunity to provide a written or verbal Response, the Title IX office performs an investigation, and the Title IX office will inform the parties of which grievance process will apply based on jurisdictional requirements.
14.2 Filing a Formal Complaint
14.2.1 A Complainant may file a Formal Complaint alleging Sexual Misconduct with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, by electronic mail, or by the University’s electronic reporting system.
14.2.2 The University does not limit the timeframe for filing a report or Formal Complaint of Sexual Misconduct, although the University’s ability to take any action may be limited because of the passage of time.
14.2.3 Even in the absence of a Formal Complaint, some circumstances may require the Title IX Coordinator to initiate a Formal Complaint in order to protect the University community. If the Title IX Coordinator initiates a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator is not a Complainant or otherwise a party. The decision for the Title IX Coordinator to file a Formal Complaint is not taken lightly and will be determined based on various factors including, but not limited to, the type of actions alleged in the report, prior reports received, the potential for repeated behavior, and/or the potential on-going risk to the non-participating Complainant and/or the University community.
14.2.4 If the Title IX office determines that the Formal Complaint does not contain alleged conduct that constitutes Sexual Misconduct as defined in this Policy, the Title IX office will endeavor to determine whether other codes of conduct or University policies might have been implicated by the alleged conduct and refer accordingly.
14.2.5 Once a Formal Complaint is filed, if the Complainant decides that they want to withdraw the Formal Complaint, the University’s investigation may still proceed.
14.2.6 The University may consolidate Formal Complaints as to the allegations of Sexual Misconduct against more than one Respondent, or by more than one Complainant against one or more Respondents, where the allegations of Sexual Misconduct arise out of the same facts or circumstances.
14.3 Written Notice to the Parties
14.3.1 After receipt of a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice to the parties within five (5) business days, which will include, but is not limited to:
- Notice of the University’s Title IX Grievance Procedure, if applicable, including information about the Informal Resolution process;
- Notice of the allegations that may constitute Sexual Misconduct;
- Sufficient details, including the identities of the parties involved in the incident, the conduct allegedly constituting Sexual Misconduct, and the date and location of the alleged incident, if known;
- A statement that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process;
- Notice that the parties may have a Personal Advisor of their choice who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney;
- Notice that the parties may inspect and review evidence, in accordance with applicable policies; and
- Notice of any provision of the University’s code of conduct or other policy that prohibits knowingly making false statements or knowingly submitting false information during the grievance process.
14.4 Response to a Formal Complaint
14.4.1 A Respondent’s response to a Formal Complaint is due to the Title IX office within five (5) business days from the date the Title IX office sent it to the Respondent. The Title IX office may grant an extension for good cause.
14.4.2 The response should address and respond to the specific allegations made in the Formal Complaint and can include any other rebuttal information or evidence.
14.4.3 A response may be provided in writing or through an in-person interview with the investigator(s).
14.4.4 While a Respondent is not required to provide a response to the Formal Complaint or answer questions related to the investigation, this will not stop the Formal Complaint process. Failure to acknowledge receipt of the Formal Complaint may be considered a violation of University policy and could result in additional action.
14.5 Informal Resolution (Optional)
14.5.1 If a Formal Complaint alleges a violation of this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator may choose to offer the parties an informal process that resolves the Formal Complaint without completing the grievance process. The option to informally resolve a Formal Complaint depends on whether the University determines that informal resolution maybe appropriate and whether both parties voluntarily agree to attempt informal resolution.
14.5.2 If informal resolution is offered by the Title IX Coordinator, the parties are not required to accept this process. If the parties choose to accept the informal resolution process, they must provide their written consent to the Title IX Coordinator.
14.5.3 The informal resolution offered by the Title IX Coordinator may encompass a broad range of conflict resolution strategies, including, but not limited to:
- Alcohol education classes;
- Regular meetings with an appropriate University official(s);
- Permanent extension of a mutual no contact directive;
- Restriction from participation in student organizations;
- University-led training sessions; and
- Counseling sessions.
14.5.4 Any party has the right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the grievance process with respect to a Formal Complaint at any time prior to agreeing to a resolution.
14.5.5 If an informal resolution is accepted by the parties in writing, the Title IX Coordinator will provide the parties written notice of the following:
- The requirements of the informal resolution process including the circumstances under which it precludes the parties from resuming the grievance process with respect to a Formal Complaint arising from the same allegations;
- At any time prior to agreeing to a resolution, any party has the right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the grievance process with respect to the Formal Complaint; and
- Any consequences resulting from participating in the informal resolution process, including the records that will be maintained or could be shared.
14.5.6 Any final resolution pursuant to the informal resolution process will be documented and kept for seven (7) years as required by law. However, no recording of the informal resolution process will be made and any statements made during the informal resolution process may not be used for or against either party. Failure to comply with an informal resolution agreement may result in disciplinary action.
14.5.7 Informal resolution may not be used to resolve Sexual Misconduct allegations where a University employee is alleged to have engaged in Sexual Misconduct against a student. Under certain circumstances, a student may be considered an employee.
14.6.1 Absent extenuating circumstances, a Sexual Misconduct investigation will begin upon receipt of a Formal Complaint of alleged Sexual Misconduct. A preliminary investigation may begin prior to receiving a response from a Respondent.
14.6.2 Title IX investigator(s) will attempt to gather evidence and interview the Complainant, the Respondent(s), and any witnesses, including those identified by the Complainant and Respondent, as appropriate.
14.6.3 Both Complainant and Respondent will be provided equal opportunity to present witnesses and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence.
14.6.4 Both Complainant and Respondent will be provided equal opportunity to inspect and review any evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in a Formal Complaint, including the evidence upon which the University does not intend to rely in reaching a determination regarding responsibility and inculpatory or exculpatory evidence whether obtained from a party or other source.
14.7 Inspection of Evidence and Investigative Report
14.7.1 Prior to the completion of the investigative report, the Title IX investigator(s) will send to each party and their Advisor, if any, a draft copy of the investigative report and all evidence obtained as part of the investigation, including all inculpatory or exculpatory evidence.
14.7.2 The parties will be given ten (10) business days to review the draft report and evidence and provide a written response before the investigative report becomes final.
14.7.3 The Title IX investigator(s) will finalize the investigative report after considering the responses from the parties and will provide a copy to the parties and their Personal Advisors, if any, at least ten (10) business days prior to the hearing.
15. Title IX Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedure
15.1 If the alleged Sexual Misconduct is found to be considered Title IX Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Grievance Procedure, described in Appendix B of this Policy, will apply.
16. UH System Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedure
16.1 If the alleged Sexual Misconduct is found to be considered UH System Sexual Misconduct, the UH System Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedure, described in Appendix C of this Policy, will apply.
17. Retaliation Prohibited
17.1 The University takes reports of Sexual Misconduct very seriously and will not tolerate retaliation against those who in good faith make such reports or participate in the investigation or adjudication process.
17.2 No person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any rights or privilege secured in this Policy or because the individual has made a report or Formal Complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this Policy.
17.3 Any person who believes that they have been subjected to retaliation should immediately report this concern to the Title IX Coordinator.
17.4 If an individual makes a materially false statement in bad faith during the course of a grievance procedure under this policy, this conduct may constitute a violation through a separate University policy. A finding through a separate policy does not constitute retaliation prohibited in this section. However, a determination of responsibility under the Sexual Misconduct, alone, is not sufficient to conclude that any party made a materially false statement in bad faith.
18.1 To encourage reporting, the University will not take any disciplinary action against a student enrolled at the University who in good faith reports being the victim of, or a witness to, an incident of Sexual Misconduct for a violation under the University’s Student Code of Conduct for conduct by the student occurring at or near the time of the incident, regardless of the location at which the incident occurred or the outcome of the University’s disciplinary process regarding the incident, if any. The University may investigate to determine whether a report of an incident of Sexual Misconduct was made in good faith. A determination that a student is entitled to amnesty is final and may not be revoked.
18.2 A person employed by or enrolled at the University acting in good faith who reports or assists in the investigation of a report of an incident of alleged Sexual Misconduct, or who testifies or otherwise participates in the Formal Complaint process, will not be subjected to any disciplinary action by the University for any violation by the person of the University’s code of conduct reasonably related to the incident for which suspension or expulsion from the institution is not a possible punishment. Decisions regarding immunity are made by the Title IX Coordinator in conjunction with the appropriate sanctioning body.
18.3 Immunity, as described in this section, does not apply to individuals who participate or assist in the reported alleged incident.
19. Allegations Involving University-Affiliated Organizations
19.1 If a report is made alleging that a University-Affiliated organization has violated this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator will make a referral to the appropriate administrative department and/or adjudicative body over that organization to ensure a timely, equitable process to determine if an organization violated relevant University policies.
19.2 If a report is made involving an organization, The Title IX Coordinator will seek to identify any individuals who may be involved. The Title IX Coordinator will, in collaboration with the Complainant whenever possible, determine whether a Formal Complaint under this Policy will be filed against any identified individuals.
19.3 The Title IX Coordinator will work in partnership with the appropriate adjudicative body should there be concurrent investigations involving individuals and organizations, including, but not limited to, sharing information with appropriate University administrators who have a legitimate need to know.
20. Non-Participating Complainants
20.1 Non-participating complainants, individuals who decline to serve as a Complainant as per Section 14, will maintain certain rights per this Policy.
20.2 When the Title IX Coordinator pursues a Formal Complaint on behalf of the University, it will work with the non-participating complainants to the extent they are willing and/or able to participate.
20.3 Non-participating complainants receive the same notifications as the Complainant and Respondent as outlined in Appendix B and Appendix C of this Policy, unless they request otherwise.
20.4 Non-participating complainants always maintain the right to reasonable Supportive Measures as outlined in Section 9 of this Policy.
20.5 Non-participating complainants do not have appeal rights as per this Policy.
21. Additional Interventions
21.1 When a report is received alleging a violation of this Policy, the University will take appropriate steps to assess whether additional actions, beyond a formal investigation and possible disciplinary sanctions, are appropriate, regardless of whether a Formal Complaint is filed or a finding of violation made.
21.2 Actions may respond to the specific needs of impacted persons and/or may address the needs of the University community to respond to immediate and long-term concerns regarding personal safety, academic success, and emotional well-being.
21.3 Actions may include extending Supportive Measures provided to impacted persons such as those listed in Section 9 or new actions taken to respond to immediate and long-term concerns regarding personal safety, academic success, and emotional well-being.
21.4 Actions to address the needs of the University community may include, but are not limited to, training (both targeted training and campus-wide programs), campus safety assessments, campus climate surveys, and evaluation of policies and procedures.
22. Administrative Reporting
22.1 Not less than once every three months, the Title IX Coordinator of the University shall submit to the University’s chief executive officer a written report on the reports received for the institution’s reporting period. The report shall include the following information: the investigation of reports; the disposition, if any, of any disciplinary processes arising from reports; and the reports for which the institution determined not to initiate a disciplinary process, if any.
22.1.1 The Title IX Coordinator will immediately report to the University’s chief executive officer any incident in which the Title IX Coordinator has cause to believe that the safety of any person is in imminent danger as a result of the incident.
22.2 At least once annually during either the fall or spring semester the chief executive officer of the University shall submit to the University’s Board of Regents and post on the University’s website a report concerning the reports received from the Title IX Coordinator.
23.1 The chief executive officer of the University shall annually certify in writing to the Coordinating Board, in October of each year, that the institution is in substantial compliance with Texas Education Code Subchapter E-2 (Sections 51.251-51.260).
24.1 Investigator(s) will receive training at least annually on issues related to Sexual Misconduct and how to conduct the processes outlined in this Policy while being both trauma-informed and impartial, while protecting the safety of those involved and promoting accountability.
24.2 Members of the University’s Hearing Board and Hearing Officers will receive training at least annually on issues related to Sexual Misconduct. These individuals will also receive training regarding the role of the Title IX office to enforce this Policy, best practices for hearings and hearing panelists, and their role in ensuring and promoting safety, due process, and accountability.
24.3 The University will provide training for all incoming students and new employees that increase their knowledge about this Policy, their rights, and resources, as well as strategies to prevent violence, promote safety, and reduce perpetration. Employees will receive initial mandatory training within thirty (30) days of their hire date and supplemental training every two (2) years.
24.4 The University will provide training for Title IX Coordinators, investigators, Hearing Officers, and any person designated by the University to facilitate an informal resolution process as required by Title IX.
25. Review and Responsibility
Responsible Party: Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs and General Counsel
Review: Every two years
Dona Cornell, Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs and General Counsel
Renu Khator, Chancellor
Date: August 13, 2020