NYGSP RESPONSE TO REPORTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT OR HARASSMENT
Individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct have the right to file a complaint with NYGSP or to decide not to do so. (The decision on whether to bring disciplinary charges, however, rests with the campus) Students who report sexual misconduct have all of the rights contained in the Student’s Bill of Rights (accessible online here: http://nygsp.bgsp.edu/rights/) along with the rights listed below:
- To notify campus public safety officer, local law enforcement, and/or the state police; or to choose not to report.
- To have emergency access to an NYGSP official trained to interview victims of sexual assault and able to provide certain information, including reporting options and information about confidentiality and privacy. The official will, where appropriate, advise the reporting individual about the importance of preserving evidence and obtaining a sexual assault forensic examination (“SAFE”) as soon as possible. The official will also explain that the criminal process uses different standards of proof, evidence, and that any questions about whether an incident violated criminal law should be addressed to a law enforcement official or a district attorney’s office.
- To disclose the incident to a college representative who can offer confidentiality or privacy and assist in obtaining services for reporting individuals.
- To describe the incident only to those campus officials who need the information in order to properly respond and to repeat the description as few times as practicable.
- To have complaints investigated in accordance with NYGSP policy.
- To have privacy preserved to the extent possible.
- To receive assistance and resources on campus, and to be notified of other services available off-campus, including the New York State Office of Victim Services.
- To disclose the incident to the college’s Program Director if the accused is an NYGSP employee or request that a confidential or private resource assist in doing so.
- To disclose the incident confidentially and obtain services from state and local governments.
- To receive assistance from the campus or others in filing a criminal complaint, initiating legal proceedings in family court or civil court, and /or seeking an Order of Protection or the equivalent. In New York City, this assistance is provided by Family Justice Centers located in each borough: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/ocdv/programs/family-justice-centers.page.
- To receive assistance with effecting an arrest when an individual violates an Order of Protection, which may be provided by assisting local law enforcement in effecting such an arrest.
- To withdraw a complaint or involvement from the process at any time.
Students can speak with confidential resources on a strictly confidential basis before determining whether to make a report to college authorities. Students also have the right to consult confidentially with state, local and private resources who can provide other assistance.
- When respondent is a student, the complainant has the right to a college-issued “no contact order” under which continued intentional contact with the complainant would violate this policy. “No contact” orders may be issued for both the complainant and the respondent, as well as other individuals as appropriate. Prior to the commencement of a temporary suspension of a student, the college shall give the student respondent oral notice (which shall be confirmed via email to the address appearing on the records of the college) or written notice of the charges. If the respondent denies them, the college shall forthwith give the respondent an informal oral explanation of the evidence supporting the charges and the student may present informally her/his explanation or theory of the matter.
- Both complainant and the respondent will be notified of the suspension and if or when it the suspension is lifted at the same time and in the same manner.
- After a report of an alleged incident of sexual misconduct is made to the Title IX Coordinator, a complainant may request (a) that the matter be investigated only to the extent possible without further revealing her/his identity or any details regarding the incident being divulged further (b) that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted, or (c) that an incident not be reported to outside law enforcement.
In all such cases, the Title IX Coordinator will weigh the complainant’s request against NYGSP’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all students, employees and visitors, including the complainant. Factors used to determine whether to honor such a request include, but are not limited to: (a) whether the respondent has a history of violent behavior or is a repeat offender; (b) whether the incident represents escalation of unlawful conduct by the accused from previously noted behavior; (c) any increased risk that the accused will commit additional acts of violence, (d) whether the accused used a weapon or force; (e) whether the complainant is a minor; (f) whether the college possesses other means to obtain evidence such as security footage; and (g) whether available information reveals pattern of misconduct at a given location or by particular group.
A decision to maintain confidentiality does not mean that confidentiality can be absolutely guaranteed in all circumstances, but that reasonable efforts will be made to keep information confidential consistent with law. Notwithstanding the decision of the Title IX Coordinator regarding the scope of any investigation, NYGSP will provide the complainant with ongoing assistance and support.
If the Title IX Coordinator determines that NYGSP may maintain confidentiality as requested by the complainant, the college will, if possible, take reasonable steps to investigate the incident consistent with the request for confidentiality. However, a college’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action may be limited by such a request for confidentiality.
Filing External Complaints
Complainants who feel that they have been subjected to unlawful sexual harassment and/or violence have the right to avail themselves of any and all of their rights under law, including but not limited to filing complaints with one or more of the outside agencies listed below.
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintprocess.html
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
New York State Division of Human Rights
New York City Commission on Human Rights
Members of the NYGSP community who make false and malicious complaints of violations of this policy of as opposed to complaints which, even if erroneous, are made in good faith, may be subject to disciplinary action.
The Investigation of Sexual Misconduct and Violence
The NYGSP Title IX Coordinator is responsible for conducting any investigation in a prompt, thorough, and impartial manner and may designate another appropriately trained administrator to conduct all or part of the investigation. Whenever an investigation is conducted, the Title IX Coordinator shall:
- coordinate investigative efforts with other appropriate offices;
- inform the complainant that an investigation is being commenced and that the respondent will receive a written summary of the allegations;
- inform the respondent that an investigation is being commenced and provide the respondent with a written summary of the allegations of the complaint.
- Interview witnesses who might reasonably be expected to provide information relevant to the allegations, and review relevant documents and evidence. Both the complainant and respondent shall be informed that they have the right to provide relevant documents and to propose for interview witnesses whom they reasonably believe can provide relevant information.
Neither the complainant nor the respondent is restricted from discussing and sharing information related to the complaint with others who may support or assist them. This does not, however, permit unreasonable sharing of private information in a manner intended to harm or embarrass another, or in a manner that would recklessly do so regardless of intention. Such unreasonable sharing may constitute retaliation under this Policy.
The NYGSP Title IX Coordinator shall maintain all documents of the investigation in accordance with the NYGSP policy and in compliance with New York State law.
NYGSP shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the investigation and resolution of a complaint are carried out as timely and efficiently as possible. However, the graduate school may need to temporarily delay the fact-finding portion of its investigation during the evidence-gathering phase of a law enforcement investigation. Temporary delays will generally not last more than ten days except when law enforcement specifically requests and justifies a longer delay. While some complaints may require more extensive investigation, when possible, the investigation of complaints should be completed within sixty (60) calendar days of the receipt of the complaint. If there is a delay in completing the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator shall notify the complainant and the respondent in writing.
Except in instances involving sexual assault, the Title IX Coordinator, in his or her discretion, may offer the respondent and the complainant the opportunity to participate in the informal resolution process. Informal resolution may take place after the Title IX Coordinator has completed the investigation, but before the Title IX report has been completed, in an effort to resolve the matter by mutual agreement. The informal resolution process shall be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator, or by a qualified staff or faculty member designated by Title IX Coordinator, in coordination with the Director of Educational Advisement.
Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to end the informal resolution process at any time. Any informal resolution must be acceptable to the complainant, the respondent, and the Title IX Coordinator. Even if both the respondent and complainant agree to a resolution, the Title IX Coordinator must also agree with the resolution for it to be final.
If a resolution is reached, the complainant and the respondent shall be notified in writing, and the Title IX Coordinator will confer with the Director of Educational Advisement when creating a written memorandum memorializing the agreed upon resolution and consequences for non-compliance. This memorandum will be included in the respondent’s student record.
If no agreement is reached within a reasonable time, the Title IX Coordinator shall complete the Title IX report and present the Title IX report of the facts collected during the investigation to the ad hoc Committee on Discipline. This committee comprised of three members of the faculty elected by the Faculty Council, two members of the Student Association, and the Director of Educational Advisement will review the facts to determine the disposition of the case. The committee may determine that the facts do not require any action. If the committee decides that action is required that may negatively impact the accused, a hearing will be arranged within one week.
Rights and Responsibilities for the Hearing
If a hearing is to be held, the complainant and the respondent will be advised of their rights regarding the hearing by the Director of Educational Advisement. These rights include:
- To receive a written statement of the complaint, a copy of the procedures of the ad hoc Committee on Discipline, and notice of the time and location of the hearing.
- To have a hearing before the Committee on Discipline at the earliest possible date consonant with the right to advance notice.
- To be present at the hearing.
- To call witnesses and present evidence; to hear and to question witnesses; and to review and to question all written testimony submitted. The ad hoc Committee on Discipline cannot consider statements against a student unless the student has been advised of their content and the names of those who made them and given the opportunity to rebut.
- To have all evidence upon which a decision may be based introduced at the formal hearing and the decision based solely on such evidence.
- To select an advisor of their choice (including an attorney) and who may advise throughout the entire process, including all meetings and hearings. While the advisor may represent a party and fully participate at a hearing, they may not speak during the meetings that precede the hearing nor give testimony as a witness at the hearing.
- To challenge any member of the ad hoc Committee on Discipline with conflict of interest in the case. Prior acquaintance does not, in itself, constitute conflict of interest. The Director of Educational Advisement as chair of the ad hoc Committee on Discipline will hear the challenge in the absence of the other members of the Committee and will decide it. If the Chair is challenged, then the Appeal Board (see NYGSP Student Handbook 33-34 for more information on the appeal process) must make the determination and, if necessary, appoint a temporary chair for the hearing.
- To submit an appeal to the Appeal Board at the conclusion of the hearing before the Committee on Discipline.
In a disciplinary proceeding related to an allegation of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the Committee shall use the preponderance of evidence standard when making a final determination. This standard requires the evidence presented to prove that it is more likely than not that the alleged incident occurred a certain way.
At the completion of hearing, if the respondent is found responsible of the sexual assault or harassment, consequences range from warning or suspension to expulsion and may have a notation of such finding added to the respondent’s transcript. A complete description of possible penalties is outlined below, in the section titled “Penalties.”
The accuser and the accused will both receive simultaneous notification of the outcome of the institution’s final determination with respect to the alleged sexual offense and any sanction that is imposed against the accused. This notification to both the accuser and the accused is not a violation of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and will be disclosed in the same manner and the same time frame to both, regardless of where the alleged sex offense occurred.
In the event that a respondent withdraws from the college before a decision is rendered on the charges, the respondent is required to participate in the disciplinary hearing or otherwise to resolve the pending charges and shall be barred from attending any other unit of the college until a decision on the charges is made, or the charges are otherwise resolved. Immediately following such withdrawal, the college shall place a notation on the respondent’s transcript that the respondent “withdrew with conduct charges pending.” If the respondent fails to appear, the college may proceed with the disciplinary hearing in absentia, and any decision and sanction shall be binding, and the transcript notation, if any, resulting from that decision and penalty shall replace the notation.
Note: To review the full Code of Conduct, please reference the NYGSP Student Handbook, pp. 12-14.
A student found to have violated the Code of Conduct is subject to one or more of the following penalties, depending on the nature of the violation and of his/her prior disciplinary record:
- Warning: A written admonition that will be considered in determining penalties if future violations occur.
- Fines: These may be assigned for minor infractions of the Code when appropriate. They may also be used in cases of damage to school or personal property, but in cases of serious and/or repeated acts of destruction or vandalism, the imposition of fines must be combined with other disciplinary penalties.
- Limitation on Participation: A student may be penalized by being barred from participating in school activities.
- Community Service and Other Alternatives: The Director of Educational Advisement or the Committee on Discipline can impose particular forms of community service and a number of hours to be worked. The Director of Educational Advisement will be responsible for supervising the implementation of the community service. The Director of Educational Advisement may also require attendance, when appropriate, at drug or alcohol workshops or other similar alternatives suitable to the nature of the infraction.
- Disciplinary Probation: A strong warning in writing which specifies that further infractions of the Code during a student’s time at the NYGSP will, in most instances, lead to suspension, dismissal or, in very serious cases, expulsion from the school. A student on disciplinary probation may be barred from some or all extracurricular activities for a defined period.
- Course Penalties: Acts of cheating or plagiarism are serious infractions. In such cases, the instructor, after consultation with the Director of Educational Advisement or Program Director, has the discretion to decide whether the grade should be imposed for the particular assignment or for the whole course. All such acts will be part of the student’s general file. The Director of Educational Advisement, Program Director, or the Committee on Discipline may impose other penalties as well, from disciplinary probation to expulsion, depending on the seriousness of the offense and the student’s previous record.
- Suspension: The rights and privileges of being a student at NYGSP may be suspended for a specific period of time, the minimum of which will be to the end of the current semester. The student must not return until the end of the period of suspension. Reapplication for admission is not necessary.
- Dismissal: A student may be required to leave school for at least one semester and petition for readmission. The student may be required to fulfill particular obligations while away from the School and to provide evidence of having done so, along with evidence of his/her readiness to return to study.
- Expulsion: This means the permanent termination of student and degree-candidate status at the NYGSP. It may be imposed only in the most serious cases.
Normally, suspension, dismissal and expulsion appear on a student’s transcript. Other penalties do not. The only case in which the violation must be recorded is when a student has committed an act of violence against another person. Otherwise, no information about the violation may be released without the student’s permission.
The Director of Educational Advisement is authorized to judge violations and to assign a penalty in all cases in which guilt or responsibility is not disputed. Cases of intellectual dishonesty may be settled by an instructor in consultation with the student and the Director of Educational Advisement; after the first offense, the case will go before the ad hoc Committee on Discipline.
Among those actions which normally will result in probation or more serious penalties are interference with others’ exercise of their academic freedom, intimidation or physical threat or harm, acts of vandalism or destruction of property, academic dishonesty, sexual or other harassment, exploitation of the student-patient relationship and theft.