FAQs on Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct
Last updated June 2019
The following frequently asked questions and answers are intended to provide general information on the reporting, handling and adjudication of reports and complaints of sexual discrimination and sexual misconduct for students. Please review the full policy on sex discrimination and sexual misconduct for complete information.
Note: We use the term "complainant" to describe the person who believes that they have been a victim of sexual misconduct or sex discrimination. We use the term "respondent" to describe the person who is alleged to have committed sex discrimination or sexual misconduct.
- 1. How can I learn about the University's policy for handling matters of sex discrimination, sexual misconduct and other related conduct?
For general information regarding our policy and procedures related to sex discrimination and sexual misconduct, see http://sexualmisconduct.princeton.edu/. For a copy of the University’s official policy and disciplinary procedures regarding sex discrimination and sexual misconduct, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3 (online at http://www.princeton.edu/pub/rrr/part1/index.xml#comp13). You can also consult the Title IX Coordinator, who serves as the administrator of the policy and procedures. Contact the Title IX Coordinator, Michele Minter, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, 205 Nassau Hall, by calling 609-258-6110, or emailing email@example.com
- 2. What is sexual misconduct? What is sex discrimination? What other related conduct is prohibited by the University?
Sex discrimination is defined in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities as "adverse treatment of an individual based on sex or gender" that can include "harassing, abusing or demeaning a targeted individual with conduct designed to adversely impact that individual" on account of sex or gender. Sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination, and includes non-consensual sexual penetration (commonly referred to as rape), non-consensual sexual contact (commonly referred to as sexual assault), sexual exploitation, sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct related to sex, gender identity, or gender expression. Also included in the University's definition of sex discrimination are other related prohibited behaviors: intimate relationship violence (also known as dating violence or intimate partner violence) as well as domestic violence and/or stalking in the context of intimate relationships. As part of its sex discrimination policy, the University also prohibits retaliation against anyone who files a complaint or report about sex discrimination, or who opposes such conduct.
For more information about prohibited conduct see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.3.
- 3. Can I file a sexual misconduct or sex discrimination complaint with the University against a student, faculty member, or staff member?
Yes. If you believe that an undergraduate or graduate student, faculty member, or staff member has engaged in sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct or any of the other prohibited conduct defined in section 1.3.3 of Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, you are encouraged to report the matter to the University so that it can be pursued as a disciplinary case. For more information about filing a complaint see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.7.
It should be noted that the procedures for case involving student respondents may differ from cases involving faculty or staff member respondents; sections 1.3.12 and 1.3.13 of Rights, Rules, Responsibilities outline these differences.
- 4. Is there a "statute of limitations" on filing a complaint of sexual misconduct with the University?
No. You may report a concern at any time. However, you are encouraged to come forward as soon as possible because it is often the case that the sooner an incident is reported, the more effectively it can be investigated. Furthermore, if the alleged perpetrator is no longer a student or employee by the time the report is made, the University may not be able to take disciplinary action against that person, although the University will still endeavor to provide the complainant with support and service, put a stop to any ongoing misconduct, and address the effects of the misconduct.
For more information about timeliness of reporting see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.8 #3.
- 5. Whom do I contact if I am considering filing a complaint or report of sexual misconduct or sex discrimination?
First, you are strongly encouraged to familiarize yourself with all of your options by meeting with Jacqueline Deitch‐Stackhouse, Director, Sexual Harassment/Assault, Advising, Resources and Education (SHARE) Office, University Health Services, 217 and 214C McCosh Health Center. Ms. Deitch‐Stackhouse can be reached at 609‐258‐1898 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SHARE, along with Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), University Health Services (UHS) medical service, and the chaplains at the Office of Religious Life, are confidential resources. Information shared with confidential resources will not be disclosed to anybody without the individual's express written permission, unless there is an imminent threat of serious harm.
For more information about support resources see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.6. #2.
Next, you are encouraged to invoke the University's disciplinary process by doing any of the following:
- Contact the Title IX coordinator, Michele Minter, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, 205 Nassau Hall, by calling 609-258-6110, emailing email@example.com, or using the sex discrimination and sexual misconduct complaint form.
- Reports may also be made anonymously via the University’s EthicsPoint hotline, by calling 866-478-9804 or using the EthicsPoint complaint form.
Faculty and staff members who are not Confidential Resources, and Residential College Advisers (RCAs) — are required to report suspected sexual misconduct or sex discrimination violations. For other community members, reporting is encouraged but not required. A complainant may choose not to make a complaint or report in their own case, even if the complainant is a faculty member, staff member, or RCA. (We use the term “complainant” to describe the person who alleges that they have been a victim of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct or the person who the University believes may have been a victim of sexual misconduct or sex discrimination).
- 6. What interim measures are available to me if I am considering filing a complaint alleging sex discrimination or sexual misconduct?
Interim measures are available to those who feel they have experienced sexual misconduct to ensure that their educational or workplace experience is preserved; these measures are available both to those who proceed with formal investigations and those who choose not to do so.
Prior to initiating an investigation, the Title IX Office works closely with the complainant (often over a period of several weeks) to determine how best to support and protect the complainant through the investigation.This is a nuanced process that is highly individualized.For example, in a case involving allegations by a graduate student, the Title IX Office might work with the Graduate School Deans to assist the student in changing courses, switching advisers, changing departments, arranging for alternate graders/evaluators/committees, obtaining extensions, etc.In any case, no action – including notification of the respondent – would be taken prior to extensive consultation with the complainant.
For more information about interim measures see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.9.
- 7. If I report to the University, will information about alleged sexual misconduct be confidential?
The University will always try to use discretion in order to protect the privacy of individuals who are involved in alleged incidents of sexual misconduct or other types of sex discrimination. Because it has an obligation to try to investigate and address alleged incidents, however, the University cannot guarantee confidentiality. Only information shared with confidential resources is privileged and will not be shared with others.
Once an alleged incident has come to the University's attention, the Title IX coordinator may notify residential college staff and other University employees of the existence of the complaint in order to address any concerns. While not bound by confidentiality, these individuals will be discreet and will respect the privacy of those involved in the process.
For more information about confidentiality and privacy see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.5.
- 8. If I report to the University, can I remain anonymous?
You may make a report without disclosing your name by calling the University’s EthicsPoint hotline at 866-478-9804 or using the EthicsPoint complaint form. Bear in mind that anonymous reporting may limit the University's ability to conduct an investigation.
If the complainant’s identity is made known to the University, but the complainant asks to remain anonymous during the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will consider how to proceed. The Title IX Coordinator will take into account the complainant’s articulated concerns; the best interests of the University community; fair treatment of all individuals involved, including the respondent’s right to have specific notice of the allegations if the University were to take action that affects the respondent; and the University’s obligations under Title IX. In such circumstances, the Title IX Coordinator may arrange for limited fact-finding by an investigator to better understand the context of the complaint. (We use the term “respondent” to describe the person who is alleged to have committed sex discrimination or sexual misconduct).
- 9. Will filing a Title IX complaint impact my immigration status and/or financial aid?
No. The University has and will continue to support complainants so that their immigration status and/or financial aid are not affected.
- 10. May I file a criminal complaint against a student, faculty member, or staff member?
Yes. You may do so by contacting the University’s Department of Public Safety (located on campus at 200 Elm Drive) by calling 609-258‐1000. You may also contact the municipal Princeton Police Department by calling 911 or 609-921-2100. SHARE and the Department of Public Safety are available to explain the process to you (e.g., the importance of preserving physical evidence) and to assist you in filing a criminal complaint.
The criminal process is separate and distinct from the University’s disciplinary process. You may invoke one or both processes. If you have filed a complaint with the University, the University’s disciplinary process will proceed whether or not a criminal complaint is also filed, and without regard to the outcome of the criminal process.
For more information about making a criminal complaint see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.11.
- 11. If I report sexual misconduct through a third-party sexual assault reporting system (via an app, for example), is that the same as reporting it to the University directly?
No. Reporting sexual misconduct through a third party reporting system does not constitute filing a complaint or report of sexual misconduct or sex discrimination, and the University cannot ensure that it will receive or act upon such reports. Accordingly, if you would like the University to act upon your report, you should file a report with the University directly, in any of the ways listed above.
- 12. What if I am concerned about retaliation?
Retaliation against an individual or group of individuals involved in filing a complaint or report or participating in a disciplinary process (as a complainant or a witness) is prohibited. Retaliatory behavior is subject to investigation and if substantiated, will result in discipline proportionate to the conduct, in accordance with University policy.
Complainants are encouraged to share any concerns related to retaliation (both throughout and following the investigation), and respondents are reminded at the start of the investigation about the University’s policy against retaliation.
- 13. What will happen if I file a complaint with the University alleging sex discrimination or sexual misconduct by a student, faculty member, or staff member?
First, the Title IX Coordinator will conduct an initial assessment by asking the reporting person and/or the complainant for some basic information. Reports may be made directly by complainants, or by third-party reporters. Upon receipt of such a report, the Title IX Coordinator will respond to any immediate health or safety concerns raised by the report. At the end of the initial assessment, the Title IX Coordinator will consider what support or accommodations may be appropriate to preserve the complainant’s educational or workplace experience, and the safety of all parties and the broader University community. The Title IX Coordinator will also decide which of the following will happen next:
- If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the complaint, even if substantiated, would not rise to the level of a policy violation; the nature and circumstances of the report do not make it appropriate for an investigation; or, after consultation with the complainant about the complainant’s preferences regarding participation, the Title IX Coordinator determines that there will be insufficient information to investigate the matter, the Title IX Coordinator may dismiss the complaint.
- If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the complaint is outside the scope of this policy and/or most appropriately handled by another office, the Title IX Coordinator may refer the complaint to another office for review.
- If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the complaint or report would, if substantiated, constitute a violation of this policy, the Title IX Coordinator will determine appropriate interim measures and initiate an investigation.
For more information see Rights, Rules and Responsibilities, section 1.3.10 #2.
- 14. What if a complainant changes their mind and decides they do not want the matter investigated or adjudicated?
If the complainant wants the University’s investigation or adjudication to stop, the complainant should convey this request to the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will consider the complainant’s concerns, whether the complainant’s educational or workplace experience can be preserved absent an investigation, the best interests of the campus community, fairness to all individuals involved, and the University’s obligations under Title IX. Generally, the University has an obligation to investigate and adjudicate all alleged acts of sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, and related prohibited behaviors, provided that the University has sufficient information to investigate the matter absent the complainant’s participation. The Title IX Coordinator may ask the panel to proceed with the investigation/adjudication even if the complainant would prefer otherwise.
For more information see Rights, Rules and Responsibilities, section 1.3.10 #1.
- 15. What are the parties' rights and opportunities throughout the process?
They include the following:
• Complainants and respondents will receive written notice of the allegation(s) to be considered by the panel;
• In cases involving a student alleging violation by another student or a faculty or staff member, complainants and respondents will receive copies of all documents to be considered by the panel before the panel makes a decision;
• In cases involving a faculty or staff member alleging violation by another faculty or staff member, complainants and respondents will receive a summary of the case file before the panel makes a decision
• Complainants and respondents may be accompanied to any interview or related meeting by an adviser of their choosing (the adviser may not actively participate in the interview process);
• Complainants and respondents may submit written statements;
• Complainants and respondents may put forward witness names and may ask that the panel consider interviewing such witnesses;
• Complainants and respondents will be informed in writing of the outcome of the case;
• Complainants and respondents may fully participate in any appeal of the decision.
For more information see Rights, Rules and Responsibilities, section 1.3.
- 16. What resources and accommodations may be available to a complainant?
The Title IX Coordinator is available to discuss resources and accommodations that may be helpful to the complainant during the disciplinary process. The complainant is strongly advised to work with Confidential Resources, for example, SHARE, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), Medical Services at University Health Services (UHS), or the chaplains in the Office of Religious Life. Requests for accommodations may be coordinated by an undergraduate complainant’s director of student life (DSL) or by a dean at the Graduate School if the complainant is a graduate student. The complainant may inquire about the possibility of a No Communication Order and/or a No Contact Order, non‐disciplinary, administrative measures intended to curtail communications and/or contact between the complainant and respondent. For more information regarding these Orders, see Frequently Asked Questions regarding No Communication Orders and No Contact Orders. The complainant may also inquire about other accommodations that may be available, including housing and/or academic accommodations. The complainant should contact the Department of Public Safety with any questions about safety and security measures or if the complaint believes they may have been the victim of a crime.
- 17. What resources and accommodations may be available to a respondent?
The Title IX Coordinator is available to discuss resources and accommodations that may be helpful to the respondent during the disciplinary process. The respondent is strongly advised to work with Confidential Resources, for example, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), Medical Services at University Health Services (UHS), or the chaplains in the Office of Religious Life. Requests for accommodations may be coordinated by an undergraduate respondent’s director of student life (DSL) or by a dean at the Graduate School if the respondent is a graduate student. The respondent may inquire about the possibility of a No Communication Order and/or a No Contact Order, non‐disciplinary, administrative measures intended to curtail communications and/or contact between the complainant and respondent. For more information regarding these Orders, see Frequently Asked Questions regarding No Communication Orders and No Contact Orders. The respondent may also inquire about other accommodations that may be available, including housing and/or academic accommodations. The respondent should contact the Department of Public Safety with any questions about safety and security measures or if the respondent believes they may have been the victim of a crime.
- 18. May I bring an adviser to the interview or other meetings?
A Title IX adviser is someone who provides general support to the complainant or respondent during a Title IX investigation. The Title IX adviser may attend any interview or meeting connected with the disciplinary process; however, the adviser may not actively participate in interviews – e.g., the adviser may not answer questions posed to a party. The Title IX adviser is copied on correspondence between the Title IX Office, and the Title IX adviser may assist the party in reviewing the case documents and submissions to the panel. . Parties can select advisers of their choosing (excluding confidential resources). This can include members of the University community as well as external individuals, including attorneys. For unionized employees, a union representative may serve as an adviser for a party.
This link provides names and contact information for Princeton University administrators who have been trained to serves as advisers in Title IX matters.
- 19. Who is on the investigative panel?
If the Title IX Coordinator refers a complaint for investigation, she will appoint two or three people to serve on an investigative panel. The appropriate panel will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
- 20. What if you believe that someone involved in the investigation/adjudication process has a conflict of interest?
The University is committed to investigating and adjudicating sexual misconduct matters in a manner that is fair and equitable to all parties involved, including that such investigations are free of actual or reasonably perceived conflicts of interest. To that end, University policy establishes that those who investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct matters must be impartial and unbiased. In addition, under existing procedures, all individuals who are involved in the Title IX process, including those who set penalties and hear appeals, are required to identify any real or perceived conflicts of interest and recuse themselves as necessary. Further, complainants and respondents in Title IX matters can suggest to the Title IX Coordinator that a particular individual be recused from their case due to concerns of bias or lack of impartiality; the ultimate decision concerning whether recusal is warranted rests with the Provost.
For more information see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.12.
- 21. What is the investigation process like?
The panel will conduct separate interviews of the complainant, respondent, and any witnesses, and will collect all relevant information. All panelists will be present during the complainant’s and during the respondent’s interviews; witnesses may be interviewed by a single panelist. Both the complainant and respondent will be given the opportunity to make written statements, put forward the names of witnesses who they believe should be interviewed, and submit documents for consideration.
After such information has been gathered, the panel will prepare a case file of all relevant documents, including all interview summaries, witness statements, and other documents. In cases involving a student alleging violation by another student or by a faculty or staff member, the case file will be shared, in redacted form, with both parties and their advisers. In cases involving a faculty or staff member alleging violation by another faculty or staff member, the panel will provide a summary of the case file to each party. Both parties will also receive notice of the allegations to be adjudicated. Parties should be aware that being notified that a particular allegation will be adjudicated is not the same thing as being found responsible for that violation. The notice of allegations to be adjudicated will include all of the violations that the available evidence could potentially support. At this stage in an investigation, the panel has not yet deliberated on the matter, and it is not until that time that the panel will assess whether a preponderance of the evidence supports the listed allegation(s).
After reviewing the file, each party will typically have approximately five business days to (1) submit a written response to the panel; (2) inform the panel that they would like to meet again with the panel, (3) request that the panel consider the collection of other information, and/or (4) identify individuals who may possess relevant information and request that such individuals be interviewed. If any additional information is gathered by the panel, it will be shared with both parties. If the panel believes that further response by the parties is necessary for purposes of reaching an outcome, the panel will offer both parties the opportunity to further respond to the materials collected.
Throughout the investigation, parties must follow the timelines set by the panel so that the matter can proceed expeditiously. Absent compelling circumstances, extensions typically will not be provided by the panel.
- 22. What kinds of evidence does the investigative panel rely on in reaching a decision?
The parties themselves have the best information regarding what information is relevant to the investigation. Therefore, investigators will ask the parties to submit whatever information they believe is relevant to the investigation. In addition, during the course of party and witness interviews, investigators will ask interviewees to provide specific evidence if the investigators determine that such evidence may be relevant to the investigation, and the investigators will themselves seek relevant information from publicly available sources and/or from the University (for example, where camera footage or card entry records may be relevant). The most common types of evidence submitted by parties and witnesses in these cases include: messages (texts, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.), emails, letters, diary/journal entries, medical records, photographs, and videos. Investigators will also ask the parties to provide the names of individuals whom the parties believe have relevant information (including non-members of the Princeton community); for example, individuals who witnessed the incident, individuals with whom the parties spoke regarding the incident, etc.
- 23. What if I don't clearly remember everything that occurred?
The panel recognizes that for a variety of reasons (the length of time since the incident, the use of alcohol or other drugs, trauma), parties may not clearly recall every aspect of an incident. However, it is important to be honest with the panel regarding what you recall clearly, what you recall to some extent, and what you do not recall.
- 24. Who decides whether a student, faculty member, or staff member violated the policy against sexual misconduct or sex discrimination? How is this decision made?
At the conclusion of the investigation, the panel appointed to investigate the case will determine whether a student, faculty member, or staff member has violated the University's policy prohibiting sex discrimination, sexual misconduct or other related prohibited conduct (i.e., Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.3). The respondent will be held responsible if the majority of the panelists find that a preponderance of the evidence supports the charge(s). The panel will explain its decision in a final report.
- 25. If the panel finds a student responsible, who determines the penalty and how?
If a majority of the finds, using the preponderance of the evidence standard, that University policy has been violated, the panel’s report and case file will be forwarded to dean of undergraduate students Kathleen Deignan and deputy dean of the Graduate School Cole Crittenden. Deans Deignan and Crittenden will jointly determine the appropriate penalty, considering the seriousness of the misconduct as compared to past cases and the respondent’s previous disciplinary history (if any).
For more information see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.12 #2.
- 26. If the panel finds a faculty member or staff member responsible, who determines the penalty and how?
If a majority of the panelists finds, using to the preponderance of the evidence standard, that University policy has been violated, the panel’s report and case file will be forwarded to dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni (for faculty respondents) or the vice president for human resources Lianne Sullivan-Crowley (for staff respondents). Dean Kulkarni (for faculty respondents) or vice president Sullivan-Crowley (for staff respondents) will determine the appropriate penalty, considering the seriousness of the misconduct as compared to past cases and the respondent’s previous disciplinary history (if any).
- 27. What factors are considered in determining the appropriate penalty?
In determining an appropriate penalty: (1) The most important consideration is the relative seriousness of the infraction. Consideration is given to the specific standards of conduct that were violated and the impact of the respondent’s actions on the individuals personally affected, the University community, and the University’s values. (2) Precedent cases inform the decision and are normally determinative, as the fair and equitable application of sanctions for similar conduct is essential to preserving the actual and perceived fairness of our disciplinary system. Although each case is unique, the University’s annual Sexual Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct disciplinary reports provide information regarding outcomes for prior cases. (3) A respondent’s previous disciplinary record (a violation of any sort) is taken into account when considering a sanction for the current violation. (4) Lack of honesty during the investigation and/or adjudication process can be a factor in certain circumstances, such as when it involves the manufacturing of or tampering with evidence, or if the respondent has implicated an innocent party in a claim of wrongdoing.
For more information about penalties see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.16.
- 28. What is the range of possible penalties for a student respondent?
Depending on the seriousness of the misconduct as compared to past cases and the respondent’s previous disciplinary history (if any), Deans Deignan and Crittenden may:
- Issue a dean’s warning (a dean’s warning does not affect a student’s status at the University, nor will it appear on any official record; it is intended to deter any further violations);
- Place the respondent on disciplinary probation (disciplinary probation is a serious admonition that can range upwards from three months in duration, depending on the seriousness of the infraction; disciplinary probation appears on a student’s permanent record at the University (but not on the transcript) and may be disclosed by the University in response to requests approved by the student or as otherwise legally required; any subsequent behavioral or academic violation—especially but not exclusively during a student’s probationary period—will be viewed in a very serious light and could result in an appearance before the Committee on Discipline or a Sexual Misconduct Panel, with a possible penalty of involuntary separation from the University);
- Suspend the respondent (with or without conditions);
- Withhold a graduating student respondent’s degree; or
- Expel the respondent.
To these penalties, as appropriate, they may add the notation of censure, campus service hours, restrictions on access to resources (usually in the form of a No Contact Order), educational programming, or removal from or relocation within University housing.
- 29. What is the range of possible penalties for a faculty or staff respondent?
Information regarding penalties that are applicable to faculty respondent is provided in the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty. Information regarding penalties that are applicable to staff respondents is provided in the Human Resources Policy and Procedures Manual.
For more information about the range of penalties see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.16.
- 30. Who will be informed of the decision? When? How?
Immediately following the resolution of the case, the complainant and respondent will each be informed of the decision in writing. Notification will be made separately but simultaneously.
For more information about communicating the panel's decision see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.12 #2.
- 31. How does the University handle disclosure about violations of the University's policy on sex discrimination and sexual misconduct involving student respondents?
In the case of expulsion, suspension or withheld degree, the notation of the penalty is made on the transcript and will not be expunged. The reason for the sanction (e.g., sexual misconduct) is not recorded on the transcript and the sanction notation itself is listed in the “remarks” section of the transcript at the bottom of the page.
- 32. What will prospective employers/graduate schools/institutions be told if they inquire about a Title IX violation by a student respondent?
The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students or the Graduate School will only provide prospective employers/graduate schools/institutions with information regarding a student’s disciplinary history after receiving express written authorization from the student to do so. Upon receiving such authorization from the student, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students or the Graduate School will disclose the nature of the violation and the penalty.
- 33. How does the University handle disclosures about violations of the University’s policy on sex discrimination and sexual misconduct when faculty or staff respondents leave the University?
In any situation where there is an investigation and finding of responsibility regarding sexual misconduct, the University may disclose relevant information if a potential employer makes a direct and specific inquiry to the relevant central employment office (Human Resources or the Office of the Dean of the Faculty).
- 34. What are the University's obligations with respect to reporting sexual misconduct to the National Science Foundation (NSF)?
The University has certain reporting obligations with respect to sexual misconduct involving NSF-funded principal investigators (PI) or co-PIs. For more information regarding these obligations, see Implementation of NSF’s Notification Requirements Regarding Harassment and Sexual Assault.
- 35. Who can appeal the decision in cases with student respondents? How does the appeal process work?
Both the complainant and the respondent are entitled to participate equally in the appeal process. Inquiries and written appeals must be submitted to Christine Gage, the associate secretary of the University (firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-258‐3151) within one week from the date the parties are notified of the decision. Parties interested in appealing are encouraged to consult with Ms. Gage as soon as they are aware that they may appeal. Ms. Gage will coordinate the appeal process, including the gathering of information as necessary, and will notify both parties in writing following the resolution of the appeal. All communications with the appeal panel should be made through Ms. Gage.
The appellate body has the following five members: the dean of the college, the dean of the Graduate School, the vice president for campus life, the chair of the Judicial Committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community, and another faculty member appointed by the president. Appeals are heard by an appeal panel consisting of three members of the appellate body. Grounds for appeal are as follows: (1) there is substantial relevant information that was not presented and reasonably could not have been presented during the investigation, and such information might have materially impacted the panel’s finding on responsibility; (2) there was procedural unfairness during the disciplinary process and such unfairness materially impacted the panel’s finding on responsibility; or (3) the imposed penalty does not fall within the range of penalties imposed for similar misconduct.
For more information about appeals see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.12 #3.
- 36. Who can appeal the decision in cases with faculty or staff respondents? How does the appeal process work?
Both the complainant and the respondent are entitled to participate equally in the appeal process. Grounds for appeal are as follows: (1) there is substantial relevant information that was not presented, and reasonably could not have been presented during the investigation; or (2) there was procedural unfairness. In cases involving faculty respondents, in addition to the two grounds for appeal listed above, either party may raise on appeal “any question of unfair treatment in relation to the appointment, reappointment, or academic duties or privileges.”
In a case involving a faculty respondent, a written appeal is submitted to the Committee on Conference and Faculty Appeal. In a case where the respondent is an academic professional (professional researchers and specialists, professional library staff), a written appeal is submitted to the provost. In a case where the respondent is a non-unionized staff member, a written appeal is submitted to the executive vice president. In a case where the respondent is a unionized staff member, a written appeal is submitted to the executive vice president and/or the labor relations representative in Human Resources.
For more information see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.13 #3.
- 37. What is the "expedited process"?
In certain cases involving student respondents, the Title IX Coordinator may offer the parties the option of participating in an expedited process. This will only be offered to the parties in cases where, based on precedents and the respondent's prior disciplinary history, the penalty for the alleged violation will not interrupt the student's academic career. Moreover, in order to enact this process, both parties must agree to the expedited process. The expedited process is identical to the standard procedures described above in all respects, except for the following:
- The expedited process will utilize a two-person investigative panel.
- If a student is found responsible for violating this policy, penalties will be determined by an associate dean of undergraduate students for an undergraduate respondent or by an associate dean of the Graduate School for a graduate student respondent.
- Appeals in which the respondent is an undergraduate student will be reviewed by the dean of undergraduate students, and appeals in which the respondent is a graduate student will be reviewed by an associate dean of the Graduate School.
For more information about the expedited process see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.12 #4.
- 38. What if a respondent may have violated a University policy other than sex discrimination or sexual misconduct?
During the investigation, the panel may learn of other alleged misconduct by the respondent (or another person) that does not meet the definition of sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, or other prohibited conduct under section 1.3.3 of Rights, Rules, Responsibilities. In such situations, the Title IX Coordinator, with the approval of the appropriate disciplinary authority (the dean of undergraduate students for undergraduate student respondents or the dean of the Graduate School for graduate student respondents), may direct an investigative panel to investigate and adjudicate such other possible violations. The Title IX Coordinator and the other disciplinary authorities will determine the procedures to be followed on consideration of the nature of the alleged violation(s) and other relevant factors. The standard of evidence applied to each violation will not be altered: the preponderance of the evidence standard will be applied to violations of Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy and the clear and persuasive evidence standard will be applied to other disciplinary violations.
The University does not want community members to be deterred from reporting sex discrimination or sexual misconduct out of fear that they will expose themselves or their friends to disciplinary consequences for other misconduct (for example, that alcohol may have been made available to minors, or that a student may have damaged property). In such cases, the panel will confer with the Title IX Coordinator. Depending on relevant facts and circumstances, the Title IX Coordinator may forward evidence of other alleged misconduct to the appropriate disciplinary authority (for example, the Office of the dean of undergraduate students for undergraduate students; the Graduate School for graduate students) with the instruction that leniency should be exercised.
- 39. What if a respondent is accused of multiple types of harassment or discrimination?
The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and its subsidiary unit, the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration, responds to all allegations of discrimination and harassment, including sexual misconduct, and takes steps to ensure that each is handled according to applicable policies and legal requirements including Title IX, the ADA/Section 504, Title VI and Title VII.
In instances when a respondent is accused of engaging in multiple types of harassment or discrimination directed at a single complainant, either in the course of a single incident or a pattern of conduct, the alleged behaviors are investigated and adjudicated together (i.e., intersectionally). Allegations of hostile environment involving multiple types of discrimination and harassment (including sexual misconduct) are also investigated jointly. However, it is important to note that every circumstance is fact specific, and the applicable investigative framework may vary based on the nature of the alleged violations.
It typically would not be appropriate for the University to use information about previous conduct violations in adjudicating (i.e., determining responsibility) a new matter. However, if the same respondent is found responsible for multiple disciplinary violations based on investigations/adjudications held at different times, those determining penalty would take the first policy violation into account in determining the subsequent penalty.
- 40. What if the complainant or respondent is a third party?
Third parties (parties who are not current Princeton University students, faculty, or staff members) are both protected by and subject to the University’s policy on Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct. As in all cases, in conducting an initial assessment of complaints involving third parties, the Title IX Coordinator will consider whether pursuing an investigation will further preserve the complainant’s educational or workplace experience, the safety of all parties, and the broader University community.
If a third party complainant wishes to make a complaint or report of a violation of this policy committed by a member of the University community, they should contact the Title IX Coordinator. Such complainants will be bound by the terms of the policy, including making themselves available for meetings with University officials and meeting deadlines set by the panel. Both third party complainants and third party respondents will be required to abide by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits improper disclosure or redisclosure of confidential student information.
For more information see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.2.
- 41. How can I provide feedback regarding the Title IX process?
The Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration is committed to handing investigations related to sexual misconduct in a manner that is fair, equitable, and respectful.
Parties who have specific concerns relating to the investigation/adjudication in which they have been involved should raise such concerns through the Appeal process. For more information about the Appeal process, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.13.
If you wish to provide general comments or suggestions regarding the sexual misconduct process, you may contact Title IX Coordinator Michele Minter (email@example.com) or the University Provost, Deborah Prentice (firstname.lastname@example.org) in writing. In addition, individuals may opt to share comments or suggestions regarding the process with the SHARE Office, as SHARE staff can assist individuals in advocating for systemic change.
If you feel that you experienced discrimination during a sexual misconduct process, as defined by the Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, you may contact Cheri Burgess, Director of Institutional Equity and EEO (email@example.com).
- 42. How long will the whole disciplinary process take?
Every effort will be made to complete the investigation, adjudication, and (as necessary) sanctioning within 60 calendar days after receipt of the complaint or report. To this end, the panel will set reasonable deadlines for such things as the complainant’s and respondent’s written responses. In unusual circumstances, certain investigations may prove so complex that more than 60 calendar days will be required. Moreover, the panel will seek to comply with requests by external law enforcement officers.
Every effort will be made to resolve appeals within 20 calendar days from receipt of all relevant documents from the parties.
For more information about timing of the process see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.10 #3.
- 43. What if a complaint is made during summer break or while one of the parties is not located locally?
The disciplinary process will proceed even if the University is not in session and students are not on campus. The panelists will work with both parties to ensure as timely a resolution as possible, while recognizing that in-person interviews are preferable wherever possible.
- 44. The alleged sexual misconduct involves a member of the University community, but occurred off campus. Can the University take action?
It depends on the facts of the individual situation. Generally, the University regulates conduct by members of the University community that occurs on campus and in the local vicinity. All actions by a member of the University community that involve the use of the University’s computing and network resources from a remote location are considered to be on campus. In addition, actions by a member of the University community occurring in a University-sponsored program or activity, such as travel, research, or internship programs, are considered to be on campus.
While the University generally does not impose disciplinary penalties for misconduct off campus beyond the local vicinity or unassociated with a University-sponsored program or activity, there are exceptions (for example, where such misconduct may pose a safety risk on campus or may have a continuing adverse effect or create a hostile environment on campus). Judgments about these matters will depend on facts of an individual case.
- 45. Are the Prospect Avenue Eating Clubs considered to be off-campus?
The Prospect Avenue Eating Clubs are deemed to be in the local vicinity, and, therefore, the University regulates student conduct at the Eating Clubs. As stated in Rights, Rules and Responsibilities: “Standards of behavior by University students in the independent Prospect Avenue clubs are to conform with established standards in the University as a whole. In particular, club members are to act with considerate regard for the rights, privileges, and sensibilities of others. It is expected that they will show due consideration for the property of their fellow members and guests, as well as for the property of the club itself. Physical violence, intimidation of others, or offensive and disorderly behavior will not be tolerated in any club or on the walks and streets outside clubs. It is also the immediate obligation of those in the presence of a severely intoxicated person to contact appropriate University or local medical or safety personnel (see section 2.2.9). University policy in cases in which misconduct is alleged to have taken place in the clubs is governed by the provisions set forth concerning off-campus activities (see section 1.4.2).”
- 46. Can the University address the overall climate or environment within a Club?
The Eating Clubs are private, nonprofit corporations with their own governing bodies, funded and operated by students and alumni; they are independent from the University. As such, the University does not operate or control the Eating Clubs. The University does make available to the Eating Clubs a variety of services and programs, including trainings by the SHARE office and the Department of Public Safety. If the University becomes aware of concerns regarding the possibility of a hostile environment in an Eating Club, the University will review those concerns them to the extent it is able, and will relay those concerns to the Club’s governing body.
- 47. If I am a party (complainant or respondent), may I discuss the case with other people?
Yes. You are encouraged to seek support from a Confidential Resource and to discuss the case with an adviser of your choosing (who may accompany you to interviews and other related meetings, but may not actively participate in the interview process).
Remember that the investigative panel will interview any witness you would like them to interview, and will collect any information you feel is necessary. It is therefore unnecessary for you to directly contact witnesses yourself. Furthermore, you are discouraged from contacting witnesses directly, because doing so may undermine the integrity of the investigation, and may give rise to the real or perceived experience of retaliation (itself a serious violation of University policy). Instead, provide witness names to the panel and inform them of any question you would like the witness to be asked.
- 48. What role does the principle of freedom of expression play in determining whether Sex Discrimination and/or Sexual Harassment have taken place?
Behavior that constitutes Sex Discrimination or Sexual Harassment under the policy is prohibited. There may be other instances, however, in which individuals express disagreeable or offensive ideas or opinions that do not constitute Sex Discrimination or Sexual Harassment, but which are allowable under the principle of freedom of expression. In responding to complaints, the University considers the circumstances and works to assess the balance between eliminating Sex Discrimination or Sexual Harassment while protecting freedom of expression.
The University’s Statement on Freedom of Expression, which can be found in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.1.3, states: “Although the University greatly values civility, and all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community. The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantive privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University. In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University.”
For more information about freedom of expression see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.1.3.
- 49. If someone’s speech is deemed offensive or demeaning, but is not subject to discipline because it is protected as freedom of expression, does that mean the University can take no action?
No. The University may take a variety of actions apart from discipline. For example, the University may call the individual in for a meeting with the Title IX Office or a supervisor in order to explain the concern with the speech, expectations for campus interactions, and the impact the speech is having on others. The University also may offer awareness programs and trainings to the campus community, in whole or in part. The University may offer resources and support to those who have been impacted.
- 50. I believe that I have been harassed and/or discriminated against due to my gender identity. Does this process apply?
Yes. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, which includes gender identity or gender expression. If you believe that you (or another undergraduate or graduate student) have been discriminated against or harassed due to your gender identity or gender expression, you are encouraged to report the matter to the University so that it can be pursued as a disciplinary case. In addition, you are encouraged to seek support from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Center, 246 Frist Campus Center, 609-258-1353, firstname.lastname@example.org (which is a non-confidential resource) or the SHARE office.
- 51. I believe that I have been harassed and/or discriminated against due to my sexual orientation. Does this process apply?
The Policy on Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct (described in these FAQs) does not apply to matters involving harassment or discrimination due to sexual orientation. However, the University prohibits such conduct under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment and has numerous resources to support students who have had this experience. Resources and options are described at http://inclusive.princeton.edu/report, and FAQS can be found at http://inclusive.princeton.edu/policies/discrimination/faqs. In addition, you are encouraged to seek support from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Center, 246 Frist Campus Center, 609-258-1353, email@example.com (which is a non-confidential resource).
- 52. What resources are available on campus for those affected by sexual misconduct?
Emergency Resources and Law Enforcement:
Emergency medical assistance and campus safety/law enforcement assistance are available both on and off campus. Individuals are encouraged to contact law enforcement and seek medical treatment as soon as possible following an incident that poses a threat to safety or physical well-being or following a potential criminal offense. For more information about filing a criminal complaint see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.11.
Princeton Municipal Police
911 or 609-921-2100
Princeton University Department of Public Safety
Information shared with Confidential Resources (including information about whether an individual has received services) will only be disclosed to the Title IX Coordinator or any other person with the individual’s express written permission, unless there is an imminent threat of serious harm to the individual or to others, or a legal obligation to reveal such information (e.g., if there is suspected abuse or neglect of a minor). For more information about confidentiality and Confidential Resources see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, section 1.3.5.
The University’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, and Education (SHARE) office is a Confidential Resource offering support and advocacy services. Individuals are encouraged to access support services and learn about their options by contacting SHARE. The SHARE office may provide individuals with a Resource Overview and Selection document, which contains information about the services that are available to assist individuals. SHARE advocates can provide in-depth explanations about the services and options available, and the roles and reporting obligations of other offices listed in the Resource Overview and Selection form, ensuring individuals have a clear understanding and can make informed decisions that best meet the individual's needs.
Campus Confidential Resources include:
217 McCosh Health Center
McCosh Health Center, Third Floor
Medical Services at University Health Services (UHS)
McCosh Health Center
179 Nassau Street - Suite D
Office of Religious Life chaplains
Carebridge (Faculty & Staff Assistance Program)
On initial visit to the site, please enter Princeton client code TW8AE to access the Carebridge Library.
EthicsPoint Anonymous Hotline
Any individual may make an anonymous report concerning a violation of this policy through the University’s EthicsPoint hotline, an independent reporting service. An EthicsPoint report can be made without disclosing the reporting person’s own name, identifying the respondent, or requesting any action. Depending on the level of information available, anonymous reporting may adversely affect the University’s ability to respond or take further action. EthicsPoint is not a Confidential Resource and making a report to EthicsPoint may result in a University investigation.
Other Available Resources
Any individual may also access resources located in the local community. These organizations can provide crisis intervention services, counseling, medical attention and assistance in dealing with the criminal justice system. If accessing these resources, individuals are encouraged to clarify whether the resources are confidential.
Evidence collection and preventative medicine
Can be activated by contacting:
- Womanspace: 609-394-9000
- Princeton Municipal Police: 609-921-2100 (calls will likely result in police involvement)
- Princeton University Department of Public Safety: 609-258-1000 (calls will likely result in police involvement)
Or going to an emergency room:
- University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro
- Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell
- Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Services for domestic and sexual violence victims/survivors of all genders
609-394-9000 (24-hour hotline) /609-394-0136 (office)
1530 Brunswick Avenue, Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648
Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (walk-in hours)
- 53. Are resources available to me throughout the Title IX process if I have a disability?
Yes. If you would like information regarding resources that may be available to you related to your disability, please contact Elizabeth Erickson, director for Disability Services (609-258-8840 or firstname.lastname@example.org).