2.7 Guidelines for Resolving Discrimination Complaints

2.7.1 General

The College shall respond to complaints of discrimination, including sexual harassment, promptly, equitably, and in accordance with these guidelines. Complaints by students against employees and complaints by employees against other employees will be resolved using the formal and/or informal procedures of the Ithaca College Guidelines for Resolving Discrimination Complaints. When the individual accused of violating the policy is a student, complaints will be resolved in accordance with relevant provisions of the Ithaca College Student Conduct Code.

Note: In this Section 2.7, a college business day is defined as a regular business day (Monday through Friday, excluding holidays) during which the College is open and during which classes or final exam periods are scheduled pursuant to the academic calendar for the Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer sessions. This excludes emergency closings, holiday closings, scheduled breaks, and periods in between the Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer sessions.

2.7.2 Discrimination Complaint Procedures Subject to Title IX

Ithaca College complies in all aspects with the laws and regulations required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (“Title IX”). Title IX is a federal law requiring that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

The following sections (2.7.2.1 through 2.7.2.6) describe Ithaca College’s process for responding to complaints alleging sexual misconduct, domestic/dating violence, and stalking by Ithaca College employees, in compliance with Title IX regulations established by the United States Department of Education (34 CFR Part 106).

2.7.2.1 EQUITABLE RIGHTS

Training

  • Title IX Coordinators, investigators, and those serving as board members for the discrimination complaint review board in cases subject to Title IX will receive annual training on the definition of sexual harassment; the scope of College programs and activities to which Title IX applies; how to conduct an investigation and/or conduct proceedings, including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes; how to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias; the effects of trauma; and the presumption that the respondent is “not responsible” until a finding of responsibility is made.
    • Discrimination complaint review board members and appellate panel members will receive additional annual training on the use of any technology to be used during a live hearing; and issues of relevance regarding questions and evidence.
    • Investigators available for Title IX cases will receive additional annual training regarding issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence.

Time Frames

  • The investigation and Title IX complaint resolution process will occur promptly and without unreasonable delay.
  • Following the investigation, the respondent and complainant will be given electronic access to the investigative report and case file materials. Each party will have up to ten (10) calendar days to review the investigative report and case file materials.
  • A discrimination complaint review board hearing will be convened by the director of employee relations (or designee) promptly once each party has had an opportunity to review the investigative report. Timelines for convening the discrimination complaint review board will be in accordance with “Scheduling” subsection in 2.7.2.5.
  • Timelines form communicating decisions from the review board will be in accordance with the "Decisions" subsection in 2.7.2.5.
  • If circumstances arise that delay either the investigation and/or the discrimination complaint review board proceedings, both parties will be notified of the delay and its cause. A delay may occur for considerations such as:
    • The absence of a party, a party’s advisor, or a witness;
    • concurrent law enforcement activity; or
    • the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities

Standard of Proof for Determining Responsibility

  • All decisions from the review board hearing and any appeals will be made by simple majority (where applicable) and will be based only on evidence (written and verbal) presented at the hearing. Decisions must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that more likely than not a violation of College policy, rule, or regulation occurred.

Determinations of Relevance

  • The standard for determining relevance of evidence is whether the evidence tends to prove or disprove a material fact related to the responsibility of the respondent, whether inculpatory or exculpatory, for the alleged violation.
  • During the investigation, the Title IX coordinator (or designee) investigating on behalf of the College has the discretion to make reasonable determinations regarding the relevance and availability of evidence.
  • After the investigative report is referred to the director of employee relations (or other designated chairperson for the discrimination complaint review board), relevance determinations for all available evidence will be made in the sole discretion of the chairperson of the hearing prior to review by the full review board. The chairperson may redact or exclude information that does not meet the relevance standard above.
  • Questions and evidence about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant unless offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the violation alleged by the complainant. Specific incidents of the complainant’s prior sexual behavior may also be deemed relevant if offered to prove consent.

Support and Interim Measures

  • When a report of sexual misconduct, domestic/dating violence, or stalking is made, certain measures and resources may be made available before the resolution of a complaint to ensure both parties’ access to the College’s educational programs. These measures will be made reasonably available at no personal financial expense to the parties. When supportive measures have been implemented by the College, the parties may request modification at any time during the investigative process until the conclusion of the discrimination conduct review board process, and during any reinstatement of interim measures pending appeal.
  • Requests for support and interim measures from the College, as well as requests to modify such measures, must be directed to the Title IX Coordinator. Please visit the College’s SHARE website for more information.
  • Some examples of supportive measures include the following:
    • Mutual Restriction Notice
    • Housing Re-Assignments for resident students and employees
    • Class Re-Assignments
    • Safety Escorts on Campus
    • Alternate Class Schedules
    • Assistance communicating with instructors about assignments
    • Assistance with a change in work schedule or employment
    • Assistance connecting with resources such as but not limited to Student Accessibility Services, academic advising, human resources, and confidential resources
  • For complaints subject to Title IX, the College may consider an immediate suspension of a respondent employee from campus housing (if a resident), or from all employment and all college programs and activities, if the employee’s continued presence may jeopardize the safety or welfare of any person. Such immediate measures will be administered on an interim basis pending resolution of the complaint resolution process.
    • Interim Suspension Procedure: When an employee is subject to an interim suspension based on the above criteria, the president will send a letter notifying the employee of the employee's immediate suspension to the employee's home address by registered mail with restricted delivery. If the return receipt is not received within five days, the College will make additional efforts to notify the employee.
    • If the employee is reinstated or the suspension continues beyond two weeks, compensation will then be reinstituted retroactive to the beginning of the suspension.
  • Measures that are interim in nature will terminate upon the conclusion of the discrimination complaint review board process, but may be temporarily reinstated pending a final appeal.

Possible Sanctions

  • Formal sanctions for violations that are subject to this section (subject to Title IX) may only apply after a determination of responsibility has been made. The possible sanctions applicable to an employee for sexual misconduct, domestic/dating violence, and stalking include the following range of actions:
    • Verbal warning
    • Written warning
    • Demotion (for non-faculty employees)
    • Disciplinary Suspension
    • Dismissal

Right to an Advisor

  • Throughout the investigation, the discrimination complaint review board process, and any appeal related to a formal complaint under this section, the parties have the right to select an advisor of their choice, who may be a friend, member of the Ithaca College community (student or employee), family member, or other support person, including an attorney. Both parties will have access to a process advisor provided by the College from a pool of College employees trained in accordance with the “Training” section above (each, a “College-trained advisor”) The College-trained advisor may serve as the party’s primary advisor or may serve as a secondary resource to the party.
  • When selecting a primary advisor, a party must consider that the advisor’s role will include cross-examination obligations. Cross-examination involves asking the other party and any witnesses questions based on the case file and follow-up questions based on live testimony, including challenges to credibility. Such cross-examination may not be conducted by the parties themselves. See Section 2.7.2.5.5 below for more information about cross-examination procedures.
  • A party’s primary advisor may accompany the party to any investigatory meeting, conduct-related meeting, or formal proceeding throughout the formal resolution process (at the party's own expense, if the advisor is paid advisor).
  • Each party must be accompanied by their primary advisor at the discrimination complaint review board hearing, who will be the only advisor permitted to attend. If a party’s selected primary advisor is unavailable at the hearing, the party must provide notice in advance to the chairperson, who will determine whether there is good cause to delay the hearing. If the chairperson elects to continue the hearing without the selected primary advisor, a substitute primary advisor may be selected or assigned by the College without postponement of the hearing.

Prohibition on Retaliation

  • Ithaca College may not, nor may any other person, intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by this policy or by Title IX regulations because an individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing.
  • Neither party shall in any way be restricted from the ability to discuss the allegations under investigation and/or to gather and present relevant evidence.

2.7.2.2 PRE-HEARING AND INVESTIGATION

Complaint Intake

Once any report of sexual misconduct, domestic/dating violence, or stalking is made to the Title IX office, the student or employee making the report will be offered a meeting with the Title IX coordinator (or designee). The Title IX coordinator (or designee) will offer support, resources and reporting options to the complainant. The complainant’s options for reporting to the College include submitting a formal complaint in accordance with this subsection or documenting the incident without a request for formal investigation.

  • Submitting a formal complaint
    • Students and employees who wish to make a formal complaint of sexual misconduct, domestic/dating violence, or stalking will have the option to first review their rights and available resources with the Title IX coordinator prior to submitting a formal complaint. The formal complaint must be submitted in writing, whether to the Title IX Office, the Office of Public Safety, or to another appropriate College official. Upon review of the formal complaint, the Title IX coordinator will determine whether the allegations satisfy the criteria stated in the Grounds for Proceeding under a Title IX Complaint Resolution Process. If any of the allegations meet the grounds for a complaint under Title IX, a Notice of Investigation will be issued in accordance with that section.
  • Documenting without making a formal complaint
    • Students and employees may choose to make a report to the Title IX Office solely for the purpose of documenting their allegations and accessing support services, and may request that no formal investigation ensue. At any time, however, a reporting party who makes a report to “document only” may request that the College proceed with a formal complaint investigation, which will require the complainant to submit a formal written complaint.
    • The Title IX coordinator is charged with maintaining campus safety and as a result, there may be times when a report is made to the Title IX Office that could lead to the initiation of a formal resolution process despite a request to the contrary from the individual making the report.

Notice of Investigation

  • When a formal resolution process is initiated, the Title IX coordinator (or designee) will notify the parties of the allegations being investigated. The Notice of Investigation is intended to prepare parties to fully participate with knowledge about rights and procedures afforded to them by the College and will include the following:
    • Information about the College’s complaint resolution procedures
    • Whether the Informal Resolution Process is available for the alleged violations
    • Notice of the allegations that includes details known at the time of initiation of tge investigation. The notice will be provided in advance of the initial investigation meeting to give the parties time to prepare to respond.
    • A statement that the respondent is presumed not responsible until a finding of responsibility is made pursuant to the formal resolution process.
    • Notice that the party may have an advisor of choice who may be an attorney
    • Notice that both parties and their respective advisors may inspect and review evidence after the investigative report is compiled.
    • Notice of the College’s Personal Honesty Policy in for students (section 7.1.2.3.3 of the student conduct code) and/or the Ethics and Integrity Policy for employees, both of which prohibit knowingly making a false statement or knowingly submitting false information at any point during the complaint resolution process.
    • Notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of all hearings, investigative interviews or other meetings with time for the party to prepare to participate.

Grounds for Proceeding under a Title IX Complaint Resolution Process

  • The Title IX coordinator (or designee) is responsible for determining whether a submitted formal complaint requires investigation and resolution pursuant to the Title IX Complaint Process (Section 2.7.4). Complaints will be investigated and resolved in accordance with Section 2.7.4 if the facts alleged satisfy all of the following three criteria:
  1. The conduct is alleged to have occurred within an education program or activity. This includes locations, events, or circumstances over which the College exercise substantial control over the respondent and control over the context in which the sexual harassment occurs.
  2. The conduct is alleged to have occurred within the United States.
  3. The alleged conduct is consistent with the definition of “sexual harassment” under Title IX, which includes any conduct on the basis of sex that includes any of the following:
    1. A respondent employed by the College conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the College on the complainant’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
    2. Unwelcome conduct that would be determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies the complainant equal access to the College’s education program or activity; or
    3. Conduct constituting “sexual assault”, “non-consensual sexual contact”, “domestic violence”, “dating violence”, or “stalking” as defined in section 2.1 of the Ithaca College Policy Manual.

Assignment or Dismissal of a Formal Complaint

  • Formal Resolution Process
    • A formal process will include a formal investigation by the College. The facts of the investigation will be reviewed to determine if the case file will be referred to a discrimination complaint review board pursuant to the criteria described in Grounds for a Sexual Harassment Complaint under Title IX section below. Formal complaints referred to the Discrimination Complaint Review Board will be resolved in accordance with the Conduct Review Board Process for Complaints Subject to Title IX.
  • Informal Resolution Process
    • An Informal Resolution Process involves a mediation process intended to develop a voluntary, non-enforceable understanding between parties in order to help the parties navigate their educational experience. If either party requests that the matter be addressed through the Informal Resolution Process, the Title IX coordinator (or designee) will invite the other party to participate. The option is only available if both parties agree to participate. The process is further described in the Informal Resolution Process of this policy.
  • Dismissal of formal complaints under Title IX
    • If the report received by the Title IX coordinator does not include allegations that satisfy the criteria stated in the Grounds for Proceeding under a Title IX Complaint Resolution Process, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will dismiss the report as a Title IX matter, but may nonetheless refer the matter to processes under 2.7.3 of this policy. If the report received by the Tittle IX coordinator does not constitute any policy violation, the Title IX coordinator will dismiss the report entirely.
    • The Title IX coordinator will promptly send notice of the dismissal of any allegation in the formal complaint simultaneously to both parties, including the reasons for the dismissal
    • Appeal of the Dismissal
      • Any decision by the Title IX coordinator to dismiss an allegation in the formal complaint may be appealed by either party at any time while they remain a student or employee of the College. The appealing party must submit a written appeal directly to the director of employee relations, demonstrating one or more of the following grounds:
        • A procedural irregularity that materially affected the outcome
        • New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of the dismissal, which could have materially affected the outcome
        • A conflict of interest or bias for the Title IX coordinator, investigator, or other decision maker that materially affected the outcome
      • Once a written appeal has been submitted, a copy of the appeal will be made available for review by the opposing party. The opposing party will have three (3) regular business days (Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays and days when the main campus is closed) to review the written appeal and submit a written response to the director of employee relations. Responses submitted late will not be considered. Responses should address only the applicable grounds. The non-appealing party's response will be shared with the appealing party, however no further submissions will be accepted from either party.
      • The written decision on the appeal from the director of employee relations will be simultaneously communicated to the complainant, the respondent, and the Title IX coordinator.

Investigation and Evidence Gathering

The Title IX coordinator (or designee) will continue the investigation after determining the assignment of a formal resolution process.

  • The investigation will result in an investigative report, including the collected evidence and an investigative summary that fairly summarizes and objectively evaluates all relevant evidence – including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence, whether obtained from a party or other source.
  • All parties will have an equal opportunity to present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and/or exculpatory evidence to the designated investigator.
  • Throughout the investigation, the burden of proof and the burden of gathering evidence to reach a determination regarding responsibility rests on the College.

Investigative Report Review

The Title IX coordinator (or designee) will make the investigative report, including a draft investigative summary, available to each party, and their respective primary advisors, at the conclusion of the investigation.

  • All parties will have an equal opportunity to review any evidence gathered by the College as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in a formal complaint, including the evidence the College does not intend to rely upon in reaching a determination regarding responsibility.
  • Parties and their advisors will be provided an electronic copy of the investigative report (redacted for privacy) and have up to ten (10) calendar days to review the material with their advisor and communicate any concerns about the summary, or their individual evidence and testimony, with the Title IX coordinator.
  • The investigative report, including the draft investigative summary, will not include final determinations of the admissibility of evidence for the upcoming discrimination complaint board hearing.

2.7.2.3 INFORMAL RESOLUTION PROCESS

The Informal Resolution Process (“IRP”) is available if both parties wish to resolve the formal complaint through a voluntary mediation process, however the process is not an available option when the complaint is made by a student against an employee.

The IRP is facilitated by the Title IX coordinator (or designee) and is designed to address the needs of each party for them to continue being successful as a community member of the college. At any point during an IRP, either party may choose to withdraw from the process. If either party withdraws, they may request to engage in a formal process OR the complainant may request to withdraw their formal complaint.

The IRP is not a fact-finding process or evaluation of evidence. Any information gathered during the IRP will be available to an investigator and to decision-makers if a formal complaint process is later initiated. Decisionmakers will be instructed that any information submitted by the parties during the IRP may not be considered an admission of the alleged violation.

Once an IRP is completed, either party may request a modification to the resulting resolution at any time as long as they remain a student or employee at the College. By accepting the resolution, parties understand that the Title IX Office (or designee) may facilitate further mediation in the event that they wish to revisit the agreed-upon terms or raise new concerns through this process.

2.7.2.4 CONSOLIDATION OF COMPLAINTS

Multiple complaints subject to Title IX that stem from the same facts and circumstances may be consolidated into a single formal resolution process, under the following circumstances:

  • A complaint against more than one respondent
  • Complaints by more than one complainant against one or more respondents
  • Complaints by both parties alleging wrongdoing by the other

Where a formal resolution process involves more than one complainant or more than one respondent, references in this section to the singular “party,” “complainant,” or “respondent” include the plural, as applicable.

2.7.2.5 DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT REVIEW BOARD PROCESS FOR CASES SUBJECT TO TITLE IX

Note: The director of employee relations may appoint a designee, when or where appropriate, to perform the functions delegated to the director in the following procedural sections: 2.7.2.3

Scheduling

  • The discrimination complaint review board will be promptly convened, within fifteen (15) college business days (Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays and days when the main campus is closed) from the date the investigative report is received by the director of employee relations.
  • All meetings and deadlines will be scheduled without unreasonable delay. Unavoidable delays related to parties’, advisors’, or witness’s absence, medical or emergency needs, or requests from law enforcement agencies conducting concurrent investigations may result in temporary delay, and College procedures will promptly resume. Requests for postponements will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the chairperson.

Pre-Board Meeting

  • The respondent and the complainant will have separate meetings with the director of employee relations (or designee) prior to the discrimination complaint review board hearing. This meeting is an opportunity for each party to ask questions about the procedures, rights, responsibilities, and other aspects of the hearing process. During this meeting, the director (or designee) will discuss either party’s request to appear at the live hearing virtually. Parties may contact the director (or designee) again if new questions arise. A party must make their request for any additional meeting at least two (2) college business days prior to the scheduled hearing.

Formal Charge Letter

  • The respondent and the complainant will be notified simultaneously in writing of the formal charges to be considered by the discrimination complaint review board. This notice will be submitted at least five (5) calendar days prior to the hearing.

Evidence (non-testimonial)

  • The board will be provided a case file that includes all relevant evidence provided in the investigative report from the Title IX Office.
  • New non-testimonial evidence will only be admitted after the close of the investigative report if it was not reasonably available during the investigation. If material evidence becomes available that was not reasonably available before the close of the investigation, the hearing may be postponed to provide both parties equitable time to review the evidence.
  • Requests to admit evidence after the close of the investigation must be made to the chairperson in advance of the hearing.
    • Relevance determinations and determinations as to whether evidence was reasonably available prior to the deadline will be made solely at the discretion of the chairperson.
    • Exceptions may be made, when necessary, in the sole discretion of the chairperson, and a hearing may be postponed to provide both parties equitable time to review evidence.

Composition of the Discrimination Complaint Review Board

  • The respondent and complainant will receive notice simultaneously from the chairperson regarding who will serve as discrimination complaint review board members.
  • The discrimination complaint review board will be composed of four (4) individuals: three appointees from the available pool established in accordance with 2.7.3.3 Establishment of a Discrimination Complaint Review Board, and the director of employee relations (or designee) as a non-voting chairperson.
  • Parties may challenge the participation of any board member based on a conflict of interest or bias. Any such objection will be ruled upon by the chairperson.
  • The following individuals are the only people allowed in the hearing room: the respondent; the complainant; the primary advisors for the respondent and the complainant; witnesses, as called upon; the board members and chairperson; and a note taker appointed by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Determinations regarding any deviation from this standard will be made by the chairperson.

Submitting Written Materials

  • Parties must submit copies of opening and closing statements for pre-approval no later than one (1) college business day prior to the hearing.
  • Parties must submit copies of questions for cross-examination for pre-approval no later than one (1) college business day prior to hearing.
  • Questions and statements submitted for pre-approval are not made available to the opposing party.
  • Questions and statements that are not pre-approved are subject to restrictions for relevance and decorum by the chairperson during the live hearing.
  • Questions that either party would like to be shared with the opposing party may be submitted no later than one (1) business day prior to the hearing. .

Structure of the Hearing

  • The order of hearing procedures is as follows:
    • Introductions and reading of the formal allegations by the chairperson
    • Opening statements
    • Questioning of the parties by the board
    • Cross-examination of the parties by primary advisors
    • Questioning by the board, and cross-examination by primary advisors, of each non-party witness
    • Closing statements
    • Deliberation by the board regarding responsibility
    • Impact statements from both parties, if the respondent has been found responsible
    • Deliberation by the board regarding a recommended sanction, if the respondent has been found responsible.
      • The board will be informed of the respondent’s prior judicial history prior to deliberation. Impact statements and prior judicial history will be considered by the board in determining the appropriate sanction recommendation(s).

Examination of Parties and Witnesses

  • Members of the discrimination complaint review board, including the chairperson, will have the opportunity to question each party and each witness prior to cross-examination by the parties’ primary advisors.
  • Cross-examination at the hearing must be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by each party’s primary advisor, never by a party personally.
  • If a party does not have an advisor present at the live hearing, the chairperson may postpone the hearing with good cause or provide a new primary advisor to conduct cross-examination on behalf of the party whose advisor is not in attendance.
  • Only relevant questions and cross-examination may be asked of a party or witness. Questioning must conclude at the direction of the chairperson.
    • All questions are subject to restriction by the chairperson during the live hearing based on relevance and decorum.
    • The chairperson may restrict questions by primary advisors that are directed at parties or witnesses in a badgering manner.
  • If a party is unwilling to submit to cross-examination at the live hearing, the conduct review board may not rely on any statement of that party or witness in reaching a determination regarding responsibility.

Presence of Parties and Witnesses

  • If the respondent or complainant fails to appear at the hearing, then the board will proceed in that student’s absence and will reach a decision on the evidence available. However, the conduct review board may not rely on any statement of that student in reaching a determination of responsibility. The board will be instructed not to draw any inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party’s or witness’s absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer questions or cross-examination. If the respondent or the complainant fails to appear, a College-trained advisor will conduct the absent party’s cross-examination of witnesses for the hearing.

Decisions

  • Within five (5) college business days of the discrimination complaint review board hearing, written notification of the decision and recommendation, if any, will be simultaneuously communicated to the respondent, complainant, director of employee relations, and executive officer overseeing the division in which the respondent is employed. Such written notice will include the findings of fact, the decision regarding responsibility, any applicable sanction, and the rationale for the decision and sanction. The board’s decision on responsibility for the violation is binding on the executive officer.
  • The review board's recommendation for sanctions is not binding. Should the executive officer determine that the recommended sanctions are inappropriate, the executive officer will meet with the review board and explain the executive officer's determination of the final sanctions. The executive officer will then communicate the decision regarding the sanctions to the complainant and the respondent within five business days of the executive officer's meeting with the review board.
  • All hearings will be recorded by the College for inspection and review by the parties. The recordings are confidential and are securely maintained by the Office of Human Resources. The recordings will be kept for seven (7) years after the conclusion of the hearing.

2.7.2.6 FINAL APPEAL FOR TITLE IX CASES

Standard of Review

If the complainant or respondent is not satisfied with the findings of the review board and/or the sanction(s) imposed by the executive officer, the complainant or respondent may submit a final appeal to the President. The letter of appeal must be submitted to the President in writing within 10 regular business days of notification of the decision of the review board and/or executive officer and must fully demonstrate one or more of the following grounds:

  • that the hearing was inconsistent with established procedures; or
  • that the sanction imposed was not appropriate; or
  • that relevant evidence offered by the party was not reviewed by the review board that could have materially affected the outcome; or
  • that new evidence is now available that could have materially affected the outcome; or
  • that the process itself was fundamentally unfair and resulted in an unfair outcome.
  • that the Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against respondents or complainants generally, or against the individual respondent or complainant, that affected the outcome

The President may dismiss the appeal or order further action based on it, the President's decision is final.

Procedure for Appeal

  • The appealing party must submit their letter of appeal within three (3) regular business days (Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays and days when the campus is closed) after the written decision from the discrimination complaint review board has been made available. Appeals submitted late will not be considered by the appellate panel.
  • Once a letter of appeal has been submitted, a copy of the letter of appeal will be made available for review by the other party.
  • The non-appealing party will have three (3) regular business days (Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays and days when the main campus is closed) to review the letter of appeal and submit a written response to the director of employee relations (or designee). Responses should address only the applicable grounds as stated above. Responses submitted late will not be considered.
  • The non-appealing party’s written response will be shared with the appealing party, however no further submissions will be accepted from either party.
  • All materials will be shared with the Office of the President including the case file, the recording of the hearing, the decision, the written appeal and the written response to the appeal.
  • The final decision of the President will be communicated to both the respondent and the complainant, simultaneously, within five (5) college business days of the decision, and will include any new or amended sanction, if applicable.

2.7.3 Guidelines for Resolving Discrimination Complaints that are Not Subject to Title IX

Complaints should be brought to the Office of Employee Relations within the Office of Human Resources as soon as possible following emergence of the problem, preferably no longer than one year after the most recent incident. Any delay in the reporting of a violation of College policy could hamper a successful investigation and resolution of the problem. Complaints received after more than one year will be pursued only at the discretion of the Director of Employee Relations.

Allegations of discrimination are extremely serious and involve highly sensitive issues. All parties involved in the resolution of a complaint are expected to treat information related to the allegations confidentially.

A demonstrated effort will be made to resolve allegations of discrimination within 90 days of such incidents (excluding campus holidays) being reported to the Office of Employee Relations.

Ithaca College encourages resolution of complaints through informal means when appropriate. Should informal means fail, or if the Director of Employee Relations determines that informal approaches would be inappropriate or ineffective, the complainant may request that the formal procedures be invoked.

Both formal and informal procedures are intended to provide an opportunity for the internal hearing of complaints and resolution of problems. The procedures are not legal proceedings, and do not preclude the affected parties from seeking satisfaction through legal means outside of the College. Parties may not bring legal counsel into either informal meetings or the formal hearings.

In extreme cases, when an employee's continued presence may seriously and adversely affect the functioning of the College or jeopardize the safety or welfare of any person, the employee may be suspended immediately. In such cases the president will send a letter notifying the employee of the employee's immediate suspension to the employee's home address by registered mail with restricted delivery. If the return receipt is not received within five days, the College will make additional efforts to notify the employee.

2.7.3.1 Informal Approaches to Problem Solving

Ithaca College encourages informal problem-solving approaches when appropriate in the resolution of discrimination complaints.

Informal approaches may include, but are not limited to, discussion of the problem with the alleged offender individually or with the applicable supervisor, mediation, and written communication from the complainant to the alleged offender. Informal resolution should be attempted only with assistance and guidance from the Director of Employee Relations.

The Director of Employee Relations shall prepare a summary memorandum to document the process. A copy of the memorandum shall be provided to the complainant and the alleged offender. A copy will also be retained in the files of the Office of Human Resources. The memorandum shall be kept separate from the employees' personnel files.

If informal attempts at resolving the problem are unsuccessful or deemed inappropriate by the Director of Employee Relations, the complainant may request resolution through the formal discrimination complaint procedures.

2.7.3.2 Formal Discrimination Complaint Procedures

2.7.3.2.1 General

The formal discrimination complaint procedures require a signed statement of complaint specifying the nature of the problem. The statement of complaint should be submitted to the Director of Employee Relations as soon as possible, preferably within one year of the most recent incident. Any delay in the reporting of a violation could seriously hamper a successful investigation and resolution of the problem. Complaints received after more than one year will be pursued only at the discretion of the Director of Employee Relations.

2.7.3.2.2 Reasonable Grounds Investigation

Following submission of the statement of complaint, the Director of Employee Relations will investigate to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of the College's nondiscrimination policy. Before conducting an investigation, the Director of Employee Relations will provide the respondent with a copy of the statement of complaint, inform the respondent that the investigation is imminent, and explain College policies and procedures.

If the Director of Employee Relations determines that reasonable grounds do not exist, he or she will communicate that in writing to the complainant and respondent, and no further action will be taken by the Office of Employee Relations.

If the Director of Employee Relations determines that reasonable grounds do exist, he or she will communicate that finding in writing to the complainant and the respondent and determine whether a discrimination complaint review board will be convened.

2.7.3.2.3 Establishment of a Discrimination Complaint Review Board

Each academic year the Director of Employee Relations, in cooperation with staff council and the appropriate faculty representative group within each school, will select a pool of individuals to be available for appointment to a discrimination complaint review board.

Faculty members will be selected at the school level. Each school will send three names to the Office of Employee Relations, except for the School of Humanities and Sciences, which will send six names. Similarly, staff council will recruit and appoint 18 staff to the pool. Thus, the pool will consist of a total of 36 individuals. The pool should, to the extent possible, reflect the diversity of the Ithaca College workforce. It is the responsibility of the staff council chair, faculty committees, and the Director of Employee Relations to try to achieve this diversity.

The pool of appointees will receive training and information to be coordinated by the Office of Human Resources on sexual harassment, discrimination, and applicable College policies and procedures. Appointees must agree to receive appropriate training to be eligible for appointment to a review board. Appointees will serve three-year staggered terms.

Following a reasonable grounds finding and determination that a review board should be convened, the Director of Employee Relations will select six individuals from the pool for possible appointment to a review board. When the respondent is a faculty member, four of the six will be faculty members and the remaining two will be staff members; when the respondent is a staff member, four of the six will be staff members and the remaining two will be faculty members.

The complainant and respondent may review the list of six names. If either party believes that any of the individuals is not capable of performing their duties in a fair and impartial manner, the complainant or respondent may challenge that individual's appointment to the review board "for cause." The Director of Employee Relations will approve or deny the challenge, and the decision of the Director of Employee Relations is final.

2.7.3.2.4 The Hearing

The Director of Employee Relations will appoint three individuals from the list to the review board. When a staff member is a respondent, the review board shall be composed of two staff members and one faculty member. When a faculty member is the respondent, the board shall be composed of two faculty members and one staff member.

The charge to the review board is to conduct a fact-finding hearing and to determine, based on the preponderance of evidence, whether a violation of the College policy of nondiscrimination has occurred.

The Director of Employee Relations will establish a time and a place for the hearing. The hearing will occur no fewer than 5 business days and no more than 30 business days from the reasonable-grounds finding, unless the Director of Employee Relations deems that an earlier or later hearing is necessary.

In preparation for the hearing, the complainant and respondent may provide the Director of Employee Relations with the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses whom they wish to appear at the hearing, along with a brief explanation of why their testimony is necessary.

The Director of Employee Relations will convene the review board to explain action (if any) taken relative to the allegations to date. The Director of Employee Relations shall provide each member with a copy of the complaint, any statement of response from the respondent, summary memorandum of any informal action, and list of complainant's and respondent's witnesses.

Drawing from the complainant's and respondent's list, as well as any developed by the review board, the review board will decide which witnesses (if any) may attend the hearing. When possible, the Director of Employee Relations will contact and invite those witnesses to attend the hearing. Witnesses may, in the alternative, choose to submit written, signed statements to the review board. Because it is important that a reasonable effort be made to keep the allegations as confidential as possible, the board should exercise discretion in determining which witnesses are necessary to the investigation.

2.7.3.5 Rules for the Hearing

In addition to the review board members and the Director of Employee Relations, the following participants, as called by the review board, are the only individuals entitled to be present during the hearing: the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses. However, at the discretion of the Director of Employee Relations, each party may be permitted to be accompanied by another individual at the hearing. Such individual may not participate in or interfere with the proceedings, but may provide moral support for the parties affected.

Judgments regarding whether such an individual may accompany a party will be made by the Director of Employee Relations, whose decision is final. In keeping with these guidelines, parties may not bring legal counsel into hearings.

The review board will elect a member to chair the hearing and to speak on behalf of the board. The Director of Employee Relations will provide guidance during the hearing regarding procedures, the maintenance of order, and fairness.

The complainant and the respondent may offer testimony, introduce evidence, and respond to questions from the review board. All parties have the right to offer testimony without being in the presence of the complainant and/or respondent. However, the complainant and the respondent have the right to hear all testimony while it is being given. The Director of Employee Relations will ensure that equipment necessary for this arrangement is provided.

Members of the review board may question the complainant, the respondent, the Director of Employee Relations, and the witnesses. When addressing the review board, parties have the right to respond to evidence presented by the opposing party and witnesses and to suggest to the review board questions that should be asked. Otherwise, parties may respond only to questions from the review board. If any party fails to appear at the hearing, the review board may proceed in their absence.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the review board will meet in closed session to determine, based on the preponderance of evidence, whether a violation of College policy has occurred. The review board's determination must be unanimous. Only the three review board members will be present for the closed session. The Director of Employee Relations will be available to the review board to answer any questions and provide guidance as needed. The review board will then report its finding to the Director of Employee Relations, who will discuss appropriate sanctions with the review board.

Within five business days of the hearing, the review board will report its findings, including recommended sanctions, if any, in writing to the complainant, respondent, Director of Employee Relations, and the executive officer overseeing the division in which the respondent is employed. The review board's decision regarding whether a violation of policy has occurred is binding on the executive officer.

The review board's recommendation for sanctions is not binding. Should the executive officer determine that the recommended sanctions are inappropriate, the executive officer will meet with the review board and explain the executive officer's determination of the final sanctions. The executive officer will then communicate the decision regarding the sanctions to the complainant and the respondent within five business days of the executive officer's meeting with the review board.

2.7.3.6 Final Review Process

If the complainant or respondent is not satisfied with the findings of the review board and/or the sanction(s) imposed by the executive officer, the complainant or respondent may seek final review by the President. The request for final review must be submitted to the President in writing within 10 business days of notification of the decision of the review board and/or executive officer and must fully demonstrate one or more of the following:

  1. that the hearing was inconsistent with established procedures; or
  2. that the sanction imposed was not appropriate; or
  3. that relevant evidence offered by the party was not reviewed by the review board; or
  4. that new evidence is now available and should be considered; or
  5. that the process itself was fundamentally unfair and resulted in an unfair outcome.

The President may dismiss the request for final review or order further action based on it, the President's decision is final.

Last Updated: August 14, 2020