• An initiating party may file a formal complaint alleging a violation of the policy. A complaint of sexual or gender-based harassment involving students should be filed directly with the VPSD, the Title IX coordinator, the Title IX deputy coordinators, or other staff in Office of Student Development. If the complaint is being filed against staff, faculty, other appointees, or third parties, the initiating party should review the Referral of Complaints Against Staff, Faculty, Other Lee Appointees, or Third Parties information below. The VPSD and/or the Title IX coordinator will initiate an investigation which may involve the Title IX deputy coordinators. If indicated, the VPSD and/or the Title IX coordinator will put in place any appropriate interim measures.

    Initiating a Complaint

    A formal complaint must be in writing and signed and dated by the person making the complaint (complainant), whether it’s the person who experienced the potentially inappropriate behavior or a third party filing the complaint (reporter) on behalf of the person who experienced the potentially inappropriate behavior. The complaint should include the name of the alleged harasser (if known) and describe with reasonable specificity the incident(s) of alleged harassment, including the date and place of such incident(s). The complaint must be in the complainant’s or reporter’s own words. Attached to the complaint should be a list of any sources of information (e.g., witnesses, correspondence, records) that the complainant or reporter believes may be relevant to the investigation. However, a complaint should not be delayed if such sources of information are unknown or unavailable.

    The Office of Student Development will not investigate a new complaint if it has already adjudicated a formal complaint based on the same circumstances or if the parties and the VPSD, the Title IX coordinator, or the Title IX deputy coordinators already have agreed to an informal resolution based on the same circumstances. Whether or not a complaint is filed with the Office of Student Development, any person may file a complaint of discrimination with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, or any other state or federal agency having jurisdiction.

    Referral of Complaints Against Staff, Faculty, Other Lee
    Appointees, or Third Parties

    When allegations are asserted against a staff member, faculty member, other Lee appointee, or third party, the Office of Student Development will promptly refer the complaint to the Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator will initiate an inquest on behalf of the university and will consult with other Lee officers as needed.

    Timeframe for Filing a Complaint

    The university does not limit the timeframe for filing a complaint; however, the university does encourage complaints to be filed as soon as reasonably possible following an alleged violation to allow for more timely gathering of adequate information while all respondents may still be enrolled in school are still employed by the university.

    Initial Review

    Once a complaint is received by the Office of Student Development, the VPSD and/or the Title IX coordinator will investigate the case or assign it to an investigator for an initial review. The VPSD and/or the Title IX coordinator may designate additional individuals to work jointly with the investigator. Investigators and designees will have appropriate training to respond to sexual and gender-based harassment investigations.

    The investigators will contact the complainant or reporter in an attempt to gather a more complete understanding of the allegations as well as any related conduct that may assist in understanding the allegations. When a complaint is brought by a reporter, the investigators will endeavor to meet with the person identified as the potential complainant to gather information and to discuss her/his interest in participating in an investigation.

    Based on the information gathered, the investigators will determine whether the information would constitute a violation of the policy or not. The investigators will advise the VPSD and/or the Title IX coordinator of their findings, who will determine if interim measures are appropriate. The VPSD, Title IX coordinator, and/or investigators will consult with the complainant and reporter, if there is one, regarding the outcome of the initial inquiry. Ordinarily, the initial review will be concluded within one week of the date the complaint was received.

    Investigation

    If it is determined that a full investigation should be conducted, the investigators will notify the respondent (the person who allegedly committed the policy violation) of the allegations in writing and will provide a copy of the policy and procedures related to the complaint. The respondent will have one week in which to submit a written statement in response to the allegations. This statement must be in the respondent’s own words. Attached to the statement should be a list of all sources of information (e.g., witnesses, correspondence, records) that the respondent believes may be relevant to the investigation.

    If the decision is made to begin an investigation in a case where a reporter filed the complaint and the complainant is unwilling to participate but the university has assessed the severity of the harassment and the potential risk of a hostile environment for others in the community and has determined to proceed, the VPSD, the Title IX coordinator, or a designee may be considered the complainant.

    The investigators will request individual interviews with the complainant, respondent, and other witnesses, as appropriate; these may include people identified by the parties, relevant officers of the university, or others. When identifying potential witnesses, the parties should understand that the purpose of interviews is to gather and assess information about the incident(s) at issue in the complaint, not to solicit general information about a party’s character.

    When a complaint involves allegations that may constitute criminal conduct, respondents are advised to seek legal counsel before making any written or oral statements. The investigation process is not a legal proceeding, but respondents might wish to obtain legal advice about how this process could affect any criminal case in which they are or may become involved.

    After the collection of additional information is complete but prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the investigators will request individual follow-up interviews with the complainant and respondent to give each the opportunity to respond to the additional information.

    Personal Advisors

    Both the complainant and respondent may bring a personal advisor to any interviews with investigators. A personal advisor should be an officer of the university but may not be related to anyone involved in the complaint or have any other involvement in the process.

    Personal advisors may view a redacted version of the complaint or other documents provided to the parties, offer feedback on their advisee’s written statements, and provide general advice. During interviews, personal advisors may not speak for their advisees, although they may ask to suspend the interviews briefly if they feel their advisees would benefit from a short break.

    Confidentiality

    The Office of Student Development, personal advisors, and others at the university involved in or aware of the complaint will take reasonable steps to protect the privacy of all involved. Once a complaint is filed, the complainant, reporter (if there is one), the respondent, and any witnesses will be notified of the potential for compromising the integrity of the investigation by disclosing information about the case and the expectation that they keep such information—including any documents they may receive or review—confidential. They also will be notified that sharing such information might compromise the investigation or may be construed as retaliatory. Retaliation of any kind is a separate violation of the policy and may lead to an additional complaint and consequences.

    The parties remain free to share their personal experiences other than information that they have learned solely through the investigatory process. However, in order to avoid the possibility of compromising the investigation, it is generally advisable to limit the number of people in whom they confide.

    Coordination with Law Enforcement Authorities

    In all cases, the investigators will have completed the initial review without delay and, as appropriate, will have proposed interim measures to the VPSD and/or the Title IX coordinator. In the event that an allegation includes behavior or actions that are under review by law-enforcement authorities, the investigators will rely on updates from law enforcement and consult with the VPSD and/or the Title IX coordinator to assess and reassess the timing of the investigation under the policy as to not compromise the criminal investigation.

    Conclusion of the Investigation and Issuance of Final Report

    At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigators will make findings of fact, applying a preponderance of the evidence standard, and determine based on those findings of fact whether there was a violation of the policy. Preponderance infers that it is more likely than not that the alleged incident did or did not occur.

    The investigators will provide the complainant and the respondent with a written draft of the findings of fact and analysis and will give both parties one week to submit a written response to the draft. The investigators will consider any written responses before finalizing their report, which will outline any recommended measures to be taken by the university to eliminate any harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. The VPSD and the Title IX coordinator will work jointly to put in place such measures as they determine appropriate. Consistent with university policies, measures imposed at this stage might include restrictions on contact, course-schedule or work-schedule alteration, changes in housing, leaves of absence, or increased monitoring of certain areas of the campus.

    The investigation will be completed with the final report provided to the complainant, the respondent, the VPSD, and the Title IX coordinator ordinarily within two to six weeks of receipt of the complaint. The administration of discipline in cases involving students is subject to the authority of the dean of students under supervision of the VPSD. The VPSD and dean of students will consider the imposition of discipline in light of the findings of the investigation. For cases involving faculty, staff, other Lee appointees, or third parties, the Title IX coordinator will work with the appropriate university officials to determine the possible imposition of sanctions.