Guiding Principles for Investigation & Adjudication

Investigation

  1. Response should be timely, appropriate, sensitive, and respectful. Incorporating these principles at every level of response will increase the likelihood that students will report intimate partner violence and other forms of gender based violence. Learn More
  2. Investigation and resolution should be prompt, fair, and impartial. Learn More
  3. Campus professionals involved in investigation should have extensive, appropriate training. Training for these staff should:
    • Be ongoing, research-based, and up-to-date
    • Include information on trauma-informed and culturally sensitive response
    • Be developed and facilitated in coordination with gender violence experts
    Learn More
  4. Increase safety for and reduce retaliation toward reporting parties. Campuses should expend great efforts to protect the safety of victim/survivors by training employees in safety planning, adjudicating claims of retaliation in a timely fashion, and highlighting retaliation prohibitions in IPV-related policies. Learn More

Investigation & Adjudication In Real Life

  • 3rd Party Reports

    3rd Party Reports

    Sharon has been experiencing stalking, harassment and sexual violence from her recent ex for over six months. Fed up with Read More
  • Student Appeals

    Student Appeals

    Henry, a junior, has been found responsible by the school’s conduct office for cyberstalking and physical and sexual assault against Read More
  • 1

View additional resources related to this topic

For more information specifically on sexual violence, visit the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Guiding Principles for Investigation and Adjudication

#1 Response should be timely, appropriate, sensitive, and respectful. Incorporating these principles at every level of response will increase the likelihood that students will report intimate partner violence and other forms of gender based violence.

What's Required

Specify Conduct Proceedings

Campus SaVE clarifies minimum standards for institutional disciplinary procedures covering IPV, stalking, and sexual violence.

Institutions must adopt and disclose policies that:

  • Address possible sanctions or protective measures that may result from an institutional disciplinary proceeding.
  • State the standard of evidence (which under current Title IX guidelines is ‘preponderance of the evidence’ or ‘more likely than not’).
  • Provide a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution.
  • Proceedings must be conducted by officials who receive annual training on all forms of interpersonal violence (which includes IPV, stalking, and sexual violence and harassment), including how to conduct an investigation, protect the safety of victims/survivors, and promote accountability.
  • Require that both the reporting and responding party are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by an advisor of their choice (an institution may not meet this requirement by denying both parties the right to an advisor). Further, 2013 NC Law allows responding parties from UNC System institutions to have full representation by an attorney.

    For more information on the UNC System, visit the Policy Manual for UNC System Schools: The UNC System issued transmittal letter #86 on August 27, 2013, updating the policy for minimum substantive and procedural standards for student disciplinary proceedings for all UNC System Campuses.

  • Do not limit the choice of advisor for either the reporting party or the responding party; however, the institution may establish restrictions regarding the extent to which the advisor may participate in the proceedings, as long as the restrictions apply equally to both parties and comply with state law.
  • Require that both the reporting party and the responding party shall be simultaneously informed, in writing, of the following:
    • The outcome of any institutional disciplinary proceeding, including the behavior alleged (or policy violation), the decision, the sanction and the rationale therefore;
    • The procedures for the reporting party and the responding party to appeal the results of the proceeding;
    • Any change to the results; and
    • When such results become final.

Describe the Appellate Procedures

Each institution must describe the appellate procedures (if appeals are permitted), including:

  • Grounds for appeal
  • Standards of review
  • The person/entity that will decide appeals
  • The applicable, reasonably prompt time frames

Each party’s right to appeal will be clearly specified in the final decision letter. However, appeals should be established to correct something that went wrong, not to obtain a second opinion.

Appeals must be based on allegations that the party was denied some substantive or procedural due process right guaranteed to them or other right outlined in these policies, or for presentation of information that was unknown or unknowable at the time of the original investigation. Parties should not be able to appeal a disciplinary proceeding result simply because they do not agree with the outcome.

The Office for Civil Rights recommends that the institution allow at least one level of institutional appeal to be heard by an individual or group who have received specific training in IPV and other forms of gender-based violence. Under no circumstance should a finding of suspension or dismissal be “stayed” pending the outcome of an appeal.

Prevent and Address Retaliation

Neither the school nor any of its constituents (students, staff, etc.) may retaliate against a victim/survivor in any way following a report of IPV. When a school knows or reasonably should know of possible retaliation by other students or third parties, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.

  • Retaliation is not always direct. It also includes indirect behavior that targets and harms the victim/survivor, like online harassment, maligning rumors or gossip, or third-party/proxy stalking.
  • Considering that students can experience retaliation as a result of reporting an incident, schools should ensure that reporting students and their support network, if appropriate, know how to report any subsequent problems. Schools should follow up regularly with reporting students to determine whether any retaliation or new incidents of harassment have occurred. Students should also be informed about how to report retaliation through an easily accessible university/college incident reporting system.

The following section is a direct excerpt from the April 2014 Office for Civil Rights Guidance (Questions and Answers on Title IX, 2014).

The Federal civil rights laws, including Title IX, make it unlawful to retaliate against an individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by these laws. This means that if an individual brings concerns about possible civil rights problems to a school’s attention, including publicly opposing sexual violence or filing a sexual violence complaint with the school or any State or Federal agency, it is unlawful for the school to retaliate against that individual for doing so. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual because he or she testified, or participated in any manner, in an OCR or school’s investigation or proceeding. Therefore, if a student, parent, teacher, coach, or other individual complains formally or informally about sexual violence or participates in an OCR or school’s investigation or proceedings related to sexual violence, the school is prohibited from retaliating (including intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against the individual) because of the individual’s complaint or participation.

A school should take steps to prevent retaliation against a student who filed a complaint either on his or her own behalf or on behalf of another student, or against those who provided information as witnesses.

Schools should be aware that complaints of sexual violence may be followed by retaliation against the complainant or witnesses by the alleged perpetrator or his or her associates. When a school knows or reasonably should know of possible retaliation by other students or third parties, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred. Title IX requires the school to protect the complainant*and witnesses and ensure their safety as necessary. At a minimum, this includes making sure that the complainant and his or her parents, if the complainant is in elementary or secondary school, and witnesses know how to report retaliation by school officials, other students, or third parties by making follow-up inquiries to see if there have been any new incidents or acts of retaliation, and by responding promptly and appropriately to address continuing or new problems. A school should also tell complainants and witnesses that Title IX prohibits retaliation, and that school officials will not only take steps to prevent retaliation, but will also take strong responsive action if it occurs.

* This section uses the term “complainant” as it is quoted directly from the Office for Civil Rights guidance.

What's Recommended

Clearly and Consistently Communicate with Victims/Survivors

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

  • Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.
  • Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.

Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Support Students Who Request No Action

A school should institute trauma-informed responses to victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality and/or no action following a report of IPV. Disregarding victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality disempowers them and can reduce reporting rates throughout the institution. There are many reasons why a victim/survivor may request confidentiality, may not want the institution to take action, or may change their mind during the process. Victims/survivors often fear retaliation, even when they are told the institution prohibits retaliation. This is particularly relevant to victims/survivors who are part of the same community or in a relationship with the perpetrator. Victims/survivors may fear other consequences related to marginalized or oppressed identities - consequences such as being rejected by their community, being outed, or being mistreated during the process.

When managing requests for no action, Title IX Coordinators should honor victims’/survivors’ request for confidentiality and/or no action whenever possible. Title IX coordinators should only override requests when the potential threat to overall community safety outweighs the negative impact on the victim/survivor. Per the Office of Civil Rights, these situations should generally involve an increased risk of the perpetrator committing additional acts of violence, an increased risk of future violence in a similar circumstance, or an increased level of danger such as the presence of a weapon or excessive use of violence.
If the decision to override such a request must be made, the Title IX Coordinator should:

  • Have transparent policies and procedures for overriding the request for confidentiality and/or no action. They should make this information public and easily accessible. Victims/survivors have the right to know what will happen to their information before they choose to share it. They also have the right to know they can request confidentiality when they disclose information. This way, victims/survivors can make informed choices and hold decision makers accountable to the policy.
  • Collaborate with victims/survivors on a case by case basis. Such actions should only be taken after consultation with victims/survivors and their advocates regarding the particular incident(s) in question. When Title IX Coordinators can gather information without revealing victims’/survivors’ identities, they should pursue those options first.
  • Inform the victim/survivor before taking any action. Coordinators should work with victim/survivor advocates to safety plan with victims/survivors and take all available steps to minimize negative impacts on them.

Provide Appropriate and Effective Advisors

Students directly involved in the Title IX and/or campus disciplinary process should have access to trained advisors. Both processes are complicated and overwhelming to all students involved. Advisors help students understand the process, assist them in preparing for interviews and hearings, and provide valuable support during the process.

Title IX coordinators and/or campus disciplinary professionals should:

  • Recruit a diverse pool of advisors. For students of color, LGBTQI+ students, and students from other oppressed and marginalized groups, being able to work with a safe and nonjudgmental advisor can be the determining factor in the student’s participation.
  • Suggest advisors who have special training and explain the pros and cons of working with non-trained advisors. In the end, though, students should be able to choose their own advisor. Forcing students to work with an advisor they do not want is disempowering, unhelpful, and can damage their trust in the process.
  • Inform advisors of their role and behavior expectations prior to the hearing and hold them accountable during the hearing. All advisors should have the same role and any limits placed on a victim’s/survivor’s advisor should also be placed on the respondent’s advisor. If the institution and/or the law allows attorneys to serve as advisors, their role should be the same as every other advisor’s role.

Partner with Local Experts

NCCADV recommends that institutions utilize and partner with the existing expertise of those in your community as you enhance your campus’s services to students. A list of local experts might include:

  • Campus advocates
  • Campus and community-based, culturally-specific resources
  • Campus and local law enforcement
  • Campus response team
  • Community and campus counseling services
  • Community Sexual Violence (SV) and Domestic Violence (DV) centers
  • Disability Services
  • LGBTQI+ Center
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV)
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA)
  • Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators, Assistant Coordinators, Investigators, and otherTitle IX-related staff

Review the Code of Conduct

Prior to conducting training for campus disciplinary or judicial boards, a campus should carefully review the current code of student conduct and ensure that the code:

  • Is victim/survivor-centered, in that it recognizes the effects of trauma and minimizes the burdens often placed on victims/survivors
  • Considers offender accountability
  • Defines a clear and concise disciplinary process
  • Defines uniform and consistent penalties for findings of responsibility
  • Identifies and clearly defines IPV, sexual assault, and stalking
  • Addresses confidentiality issues

Instate an Amnesty Policy

(Learn more from the NCCADV’s Model Policy and Guidance documents, page 17).

Institutions should create as safe and comfortable spaces as possible so that any victims/survivors who want to report to campus officials feel comfortable and safe doing so. Sometimes, victims/survivors and witnesses are hesitant to report to university officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as drug use or underage drinking at the time of the incident.

An amnesty policy offers victims/survivors and witnesses amnesty whenever possible from other policy violations related to the incident. Sometimes policy violations cannot be overlooked, so it is therefore recommended that institutions provide educational options, rather than punishment, for violations identified when students have experienced and/or reported IPV, stalking or sexual violence.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) suggests that “schools should consider whether their disciplinary policies have a chilling effect on victims* or other students’ reporting of sexual violence offenses” (Russlyn, 2011). The OCR provides the example that “schools inform students that the schools’ primary concern is student safety, that any other rules violations will be addressed separately from the sexual violence allegation, and that use of alcohol or drugs never makes the victim* at fault for sexual violence” (Russlyn, 2011).

* This section uses the term “victim” as it is quoted directly from the Office for Civil Rights guidance.

Instate a Responsible Action (Good Samaritan) Policy

(Learn more from the NCCADV’s Model Policy and Guidance documents, page 17).

Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble. A Responsible Action policy pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who offer help to others in need.

Sometimes policy violations cannot be overlooked, so therefore we recommend that institutions provide educational options, rather than punishment, for violations identified when students have offered their assistance to others in need.

Carefully Consider the Use of Character Witnesses

A character witness is a person who attests to another’s moral conduct and reputation in the disciplinary proceeding. Character witnesses are not required as part of the hearing process. NCCADV recommends that character witnesses not be used as part of the hearing process. If you choose to use them, however, both the reporting party and the responding party must have an equal opportunity to present character witnesses.

List Clear and Appropriate Sanctions

Identify possible sanctions that the college/university may impose following a final determination of institutional disciplinary proceeding regarding IPV, stalking, and sexual violence. Appropriate sanctions for IPV, stalking, and sexual violence offenses include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Changes in Academic Schedule: Requiring the responding party to make changes in class schedule to ensure that no classes are shared with the victim/survivor.
  • Community Restitution: Requiring the responding party to perform a certain number of service hours either on-campus or in the community. It is not appropriate to send them to an office that regularly works with victims/survivors such as a counseling center, women’s center, student health or DV/SA office.
  • Educational Intervention: Requiring the responding party to participate in online and/or physical classes addressing issues such as IPV, stalking, and sexual violence. This may include facilitating a program, creating educational posters regarding institutional policies and student conduct, or writing a paper.
  • Expulsion: A permanent separation from the institution that involves denial of all student privileges, including entrance to the institution premises and matriculation. Expulsions are permanently recorded on a student’s transcript.
  • Probation: A status that indicates either serious misconduct not warranting expulsion, suspension, or removal of institutional privileges, or repetition of misconduct after a warning has been imposed.
  • Referral for Assessment or Counseling: Requiring the responding party to meet with a staff member of the health or counseling center to have an assessment of their mental health and lifestyle choices. The health or counseling center may also recommend further evaluation and participation in counseling services. This health or counseling center may be on or off campus.
  • Removal of College Privileges: Restrictions on the responding party’s access to certain locations, functions, organizations, teams, and/or activities; does not preclude the respondent from continuing their academic program.
  • Removal or Non-Renewal of Scholarships: Institution-administered scholarships are not awarded or are not renewed to students that have violated the student code of conduct.
  • Residential Reassignment: Removes the responding party from current residence and reassigns to a new room. Specific restrictions on access to one’s previous residence may be imposed.
  • Restitution/Fines: The responding party may be fined for violations of the policies and procedures outlined by the institutions. The individual may be required to make a payment to the institution and/or another person or group for damages incurred as a result of the violation.
  • Suspension: A temporary separation from the institution that involves denial of all student privileges, including entrance to campus premises, and may include conditions for reinstatement, such as successful completion of a counseling or treatment program. A warning of actual suspension may be imposed if counseling or treatment is not successfully completed. Suspensions are permanently recorded on a student’s transcript.
  • Termination of Residency: Loss of on-campus housing, without refund, and/or dining privileges, permanently or for a specified period of time.
  • Transcript Entry: May be implemented on its own or in combination with another sanction. The entry will indicate that a student was found responsible for IPV, stalking, and/or sexual violence. Expulsions and suspensions are also permanently recorded on a student’s transcript.
  • Withholding of Degree: The institution maintains the right to withhold the awarding of a degree otherwise earned until the completion of any imposed sanctions.

Do Not Use Mediation

Mediation between reporting and responding parties is never an option. Mediation is a negotiated resolution between two parties. Placing an alleged perpetrator and victim/survivor in the same space to address the abuse can put the victim/survivor at risk for future abuse. Victims/survivors are likely to not share any abuse, or significantly minimize the abuse out of fear of retaliation from the perpetrator. Mediation may also imply that both parties are responsible for the abuse, when in fact only the perpetrator is responsible for the abusive behavior(s).

Provide a Comprehensive List of Resources to Students

Provide, in writing, a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of on-campus and off-campus community resources available for students regarding IPV, stalking, and sexual violence, including:

  • Athletics
  • Campus advocate
  • Campus and community-based, culturally-specific resources
  • Campus law enforcement
  • Campus response team
  • Civil Clerk’s Office
  • Community counseling services
  • Community Sexual Violence (SV) and Domestic Violence (DV) centers
  • Dean of Students
  • Director of Religious Life
  • Director of Residential Life
  • Disability Services
  • District Attorney’s Office (include whether they have a specialized DV/SV unit)
  • LGBTQI+ Center
  • Local hospital(s)
  • Local Legal Aid Office
  • Local NC Domestic Violence Center/shelter where applicable
  • Local police departments (include whether they have a specialized DV/SV unit)
  • Magistrate’s Office
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV)
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA)
  • Off-campus medical care
  • Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
  • On-campus counseling
  • On-campus medical care
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner [SANE] Program
  • Sheriff’s department (include whether they have a specialized DV/SV unit)
  • Title IX Coordinator

#2 Investigation and resolution should be prompt, fair, and impartial.

What's Required

Specify Conduct Proceedings

Campus SaVE clarifies minimum standards for institutional disciplinary procedures covering IPV, stalking, and sexual violence.

Institutions must adopt and disclose policies that:

  • Address possible sanctions or protective measures that may result from an institutional disciplinary proceeding.
  • State the standard of evidence (which under current Title IX guidelines is ‘preponderance of the evidence’ or ‘more likely than not’).
  • Provide a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution.
  • Proceedings must be conducted by officials who receive annual training on all forms of interpersonal violence (which includes IPV, stalking, and sexual violence and harassment), including how to conduct an investigation, protect the safety of victims/survivors, and promote accountability.
  • Require that both the reporting and responding party are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by an advisor of their choice (an institution may not meet this requirement by denying both parties the right to an advisor). Further, 2013 NC Law allows responding parties from UNC System institutions to have full representation by an attorney.

    For more information on the UNC System, visit the Policy Manual for UNC System Schools: The UNC System issued transmittal letter #86 on August 27, 2013, updating the policy for minimum substantive and procedural standards for student disciplinary proceedings for all UNC System Campuses.

  • Do not limit the choice of advisor for either the reporting party or the responding party; however, the institution may establish restrictions regarding the extent to which the advisor may participate in the proceedings, as long as the restrictions apply equally to both parties and comply with state law.
  • Require that both the reporting party and the responding party shall be simultaneously informed, in writing, of the following:
    • The outcome of any institutional disciplinary proceeding, including the behavior alleged (or policy violation), the decision, the sanction and the rationale therefore;
    • The procedures for the reporting party and the responding party to appeal the results of the proceeding;
    • Any change to the results; and
    • When such results become final.

Describe the Appellate Procedures

Each institution must describe the appellate procedures (if appeals are permitted), including:

  • Grounds for appeal
  • Standards of review
  • The person/entity that will decide appeals
  • The applicable, reasonably prompt time frames

Each party’s right to appeal will be clearly specified in the final decision letter. However, appeals should be established to correct something that went wrong, not to obtain a second opinion.

Appeals must be based on allegations that the party was denied some substantive or procedural due process right guaranteed to them or other right outlined in these policies, or for presentation of information that was unknown or unknowable at the time of the original investigation. Parties should not be able to appeal a disciplinary proceeding result simply because they do not agree with the outcome.

The Office for Civil Rights recommends that the institution allow at least one level of institutional appeal to be heard by an individual or group who have received specific training in IPV and other forms of gender-based violence. Under no circumstance should a finding of suspension or dismissal be “stayed” pending the outcome of an appeal.

What's Recommended

Clearly and Consistently Communicate with Victims/Survivors

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

  • Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.
  • Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.

Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Support Students Who Request No Action

A school should institute trauma-informed responses to victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality and/or no action following a report of IPV. Disregarding victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality disempowers them and can reduce reporting rates throughout the institution. There are many reasons why a victim/survivor may request confidentiality, may not want the institution to take action, or may change their mind during the process. Victims/survivors often fear retaliation, even when they are told the institution prohibits retaliation. This is particularly relevant to victims/survivors who are part of the same community or in a relationship with the perpetrator. Victims/survivors may fear other consequences related to marginalized or oppressed identities - consequences such as being rejected by their community, being outed, or being mistreated during the process.

When managing requests for no action, Title IX Coordinators should honor victims’/survivors’ request for confidentiality and/or no action whenever possible. Title IX coordinators should only override requests when the potential threat to overall community safety outweighs the negative impact on the victim/survivor. Per the Office of Civil Rights, these situations should generally involve an increased risk of the perpetrator committing additional acts of violence, an increased risk of future violence in a similar circumstance, or an increased level of danger such as the presence of a weapon or excessive use of violence.
If the decision to override such a request must be made, the Title IX Coordinator should:

  • Have transparent policies and procedures for overriding the request for confidentiality and/or no action. They should make this information public and easily accessible. Victims/survivors have the right to know what will happen to their information before they choose to share it. They also have the right to know they can request confidentiality when they disclose information. This way, victims/survivors can make informed choices and hold decision makers accountable to the policy.
  • Collaborate with victims/survivors on a case by case basis. Such actions should only be taken after consultation with victims/survivors and their advocates regarding the particular incident(s) in question. When Title IX Coordinators can gather information without revealing victims’/survivors’ identities, they should pursue those options first.
  • Inform the victim/survivor before taking any action. Coordinators should work with victim/survivor advocates to safety plan with victims/survivors and take all available steps to minimize negative impacts on them.

Provide Appropriate and Effective Advisors

Students directly involved in the Title IX and/or campus disciplinary process should have access to trained advisors. Both processes are complicated and overwhelming to all students involved. Advisors help students understand the process, assist them in preparing for interviews and hearings, and provide valuable support during the process.

Title IX coordinators and/or campus disciplinary professionals should:

  • Recruit a diverse pool of advisors. For students of color, LGBTQI+ students, and students from other oppressed and marginalized groups, being able to work with a safe and nonjudgmental advisor can be the determining factor in the student’s participation.
  • Suggest advisors who have special training and explain the pros and cons of working with non-trained advisors. In the end, though, students should be able to choose their own advisor. Forcing students to work with an advisor they do not want is disempowering, unhelpful, and can damage their trust in the process.
  • Inform advisors of their role and behavior expectations prior to the hearing and hold them accountable during the hearing. All advisors should have the same role and any limits placed on a victim’s/survivor’s advisor should also be placed on the respondent’s advisor. If the institution and/or the law allows attorneys to serve as advisors, their role should be the same as every other advisor’s role.

Review the Code of Conduct

Prior to conducting training for campus disciplinary or judicial boards, a campus should carefully review the current code of student conduct and ensure that the code:

  • Is victim/survivor-centered, in that it recognizes the effects of trauma and minimizes the burdens often placed on victims/survivors
  • Considers offender accountability
  • Defines a clear and concise disciplinary process
  • Defines uniform and consistent penalties for findings of responsibility
  • Identifies and clearly defines IPV, sexual assault, and stalking
  • Addresses confidentiality issues

Carefully Consider the Use of Character Witnesses

A character witness is a person who attests to another’s moral conduct and reputation in the disciplinary proceeding. Character witnesses are not required as part of the hearing process. NCCADV recommends that character witnesses not be used as part of the hearing process. If you choose to use them, however, both the reporting party and the responding party must have an equal opportunity to present character witnesses.

List Clear and Appropriate Sanctions

Identify possible sanctions that the college/university may impose following a final determination of institutional disciplinary proceeding regarding IPV, stalking, and sexual violence. Appropriate sanctions for IPV, stalking, and sexual violence offenses include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Changes in Academic Schedule: Requiring the responding party to make changes in class schedule to ensure that no classes are shared with the victim/survivor.
  • Community Restitution: Requiring the responding party to perform a certain number of service hours either on-campus or in the community. It is not appropriate to send them to an office that regularly works with victims/survivors such as a counseling center, women’s center, student health or DV/SA office.
  • Educational Intervention: Requiring the responding party to participate in online and/or physical classes addressing issues such as IPV, stalking, and sexual violence. This may include facilitating a program, creating educational posters regarding institutional policies and student conduct, or writing a paper.
  • Expulsion: A permanent separation from the institution that involves denial of all student privileges, including entrance to the institution premises and matriculation. Expulsions are permanently recorded on a student’s transcript.
  • Probation: A status that indicates either serious misconduct not warranting expulsion, suspension, or removal of institutional privileges, or repetition of misconduct after a warning has been imposed.
  • Referral for Assessment or Counseling: Requiring the responding party to meet with a staff member of the health or counseling center to have an assessment of their mental health and lifestyle choices. The health or counseling center may also recommend further evaluation and participation in counseling services. This health or counseling center may be on or off campus.
  • Removal of College Privileges: Restrictions on the responding party’s access to certain locations, functions, organizations, teams, and/or activities; does not preclude the respondent from continuing their academic program.
  • Removal or Non-Renewal of Scholarships: Institution-administered scholarships are not awarded or are not renewed to students that have violated the student code of conduct.
  • Residential Reassignment: Removes the responding party from current residence and reassigns to a new room. Specific restrictions on access to one’s previous residence may be imposed.
  • Restitution/Fines: The responding party may be fined for violations of the policies and procedures outlined by the institutions. The individual may be required to make a payment to the institution and/or another person or group for damages incurred as a result of the violation.
  • Suspension: A temporary separation from the institution that involves denial of all student privileges, including entrance to campus premises, and may include conditions for reinstatement, such as successful completion of a counseling or treatment program. A warning of actual suspension may be imposed if counseling or treatment is not successfully completed. Suspensions are permanently recorded on a student’s transcript.
  • Termination of Residency: Loss of on-campus housing, without refund, and/or dining privileges, permanently or for a specified period of time.
  • Transcript Entry: May be implemented on its own or in combination with another sanction. The entry will indicate that a student was found responsible for IPV, stalking, and/or sexual violence. Expulsions and suspensions are also permanently recorded on a student’s transcript.
  • Withholding of Degree: The institution maintains the right to withhold the awarding of a degree otherwise earned until the completion of any imposed sanctions.

Do Not Use Mediation

Mediation between reporting and responding parties is never an option. Mediation is a negotiated resolution between two parties. Placing an alleged perpetrator and victim/survivor in the same space to address the abuse can put the victim/survivor at risk for future abuse. Victims/survivors are likely to not share any abuse, or significantly minimize the abuse out of fear of retaliation from the perpetrator. Mediation may also imply that both parties are responsible for the abuse, when in fact only the perpetrator is responsible for the abusive behavior(s).

Offer the Option of a Mutual Agreement

A respondent may choose to waive their right to a disciplinary conference or hearing, to accept responsibility for violations of the Code of Student Conduct, and to accept a sanction determined by a staff member in the Office of Student Conduct.

The following procedures apply for resolution by Mutual Agreement:

  • Upon being presented with the information regarding the charge(s), and providing a response to the charge(s), the respondent may accept responsibility and engage in a discussion about any factors that could impact sanctioning.
  • The staff member in the Office of Student Conduct will take into consideration any factors affecting possible sanctions and will determine appropriate sanctions to be presented to the respondent.
  • The respondent will be allowed to ask questions of the hearing officer regarding the suggested sanctions and will be permitted two (2) business days to consider the agreement. The respondent may be represented by an attorney or other advocate in accordance with the school’s specific policy/regulation and seek any outside counsel in making a decision to sign the Mutual Agreement.
  • The respondent may sign the Mutual Agreement, indicating an acceptance of responsibility for the allegation(s) and the sanctions. As a condition of entering into the agreement, a respondent waives their right to appeal the decision and sanctions.
  • The respondent may decide against signing the Mutual Agreement and may continue with the resolution of their case through the completion of another appropriate conduct process.

#3

Campus professionals involved in investigation should have extensive, appropriate training. Training for these staff should:
  • Be ongoing, research-based, and up-to-date
  • Include information on trauma-informed and culturally sensitive response
  • Be developed and facilitated in coordination with gender violence experts

What's Recommended

Clearly and Consistently Communicate with Victims/Survivors

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

  • Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.
  • Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.

Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Partner with Local Experts

NCCADV recommends that institutions utilize and partner with the existing expertise of those in your community as you enhance your campus’s services to students. A list of local experts might include:

  • Campus advocates
  • Campus and community-based, culturally-specific resources
  • Campus and local law enforcement
  • Campus response team
  • Community and campus counseling services
  • Community Sexual Violence (SV) and Domestic Violence (DV) centers
  • Disability Services
  • LGBTQI+ Center
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV)
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA)
  • Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators, Assistant Coordinators, Investigators, and otherTitle IX-related staff

Review the Code of Conduct

Prior to conducting training for campus disciplinary or judicial boards, a campus should carefully review the current code of student conduct and ensure that the code:

  • Is victim/survivor-centered, in that it recognizes the effects of trauma and minimizes the burdens often placed on victims/survivors
  • Considers offender accountability
  • Defines a clear and concise disciplinary process
  • Defines uniform and consistent penalties for findings of responsibility
  • Identifies and clearly defines IPV, sexual assault, and stalking
  • Addresses confidentiality issues

Incorporate Minimum Standards for Education of Staff

Institutions must provide primary prevention and awareness programs for all incoming students and new employees, along with ongoing prevention and awareness programs for current students and employees. For more information on the requirements for prevention education programs for faculty and staff, visit the Guiding Principles for Prevention and Education section.

Minimum Standards of Training for Campus Disciplinary and Judicial Boards

Review of Campus Code

For additional guidance, visit The NCCADV Guidance and Model Policy Documents


General Training Topics

All members of campus disciplinary boards, including faculty, staff, students, and administrators should receive expert training on gender-based violence prevention and response. Training topics could include:


General Considerations

The structure of campus disciplinary boards or judicial boards varies widely. Some boards are made up of faculty and administration officials while others are comprised of student representatives. Campuses should design all trainings in close collaboration with experts on gender-based violence issues.

When designing and implementing training programs, campuses should consider the following issues:

  • The differences between the processes of the criminal justice system and those involved in the academic judicial/disciplinary system
  • Ensuring that the training is continuous and ongoing so that all new members of the judicial/disciplinary boards receive information, especially if the board is appointed on a rotation
  • Maintaining retention of “trained” board members given the complexities and difficulties of such cases
  • Creating training that is effective and does not “promote bias” for either victims/survivors or offenders
  • Ensuring that all judicial/disciplinary cases are pursued in the same manner, regardless of who the victim/survivor and/or offender may be
  • Confidentiality issues
  • Working with law enforcement officials from the local jurisdiction
  • States laws on sexual and intimate partner violence and stalking:

Specific Training Topics

When developing trainings for disciplinary or judicial boards, campuses should also address the following specific topics:

Minimum Standards of Training for Campus Security Personnel

It is recommended that institutions train campus police to respond effectively in intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking cases. The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) recommends that training programs should be developed in collaboration with campus or community-based victim/survivor advocacy programs and should include information about:


General Training Topics

OVW recommends that campus security personnel trainings incorporate as many of the following general topics addressing intimate partner violence as possible:


Intimate Partner Violence Considerations

OVW recommends that campus security personnel training on intimate partner violence includes the following specific topics:


Sexual Assault Considerations

OVW recommends that campus security personnel training on sexual assault include the following specific topics:

  • Specific procedures for sexual assault exams and for evidence collection at the crime scene
  • “Known” perpetrator investigations
  • Communicating with victims/survivors about the course of the investigation
  • Appropriate interviewing techniques when questioning sexual assault victims/survivors 
  • Appropriate discussion with the victims/survivor regarding prosecution decisions
  • Specifics of rape trauma syndrome and its effects on victims/survivors
  • Relevant rape shield laws
  • Departmental decisions on how appropriately to handle victims/survivors who are facing issues of other violations in connection with their assault – such, as underage consumption or marijuana and other illegal substance possession.
  • Coordination between campus security personnel and campus health units or local hospitals working with Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner protocols.

For campus specific sexual assault considerations, visit the NCCASA Campus Resources page.


Stalking Considerations

OVW recommends that campus security personnel training on stalking include the following specific topics:

Campuses should carefully coordinate and plan training sessions for campus security personnel, and should design all trainings in close collaboration with experts on gender-based violence issues. The emphasis of the trainings should be that the response to victims/survivors needs to be timely, appropriate, sensitive, and respectful. Programs should work closely with campus security personnel to schedule convenient programming events to ensure attendance by the maximum number of officers.


Possible Challenges

In designing training programs for campus security personnel, campuses should be flexible and earnestly consider the following possible challenges:

  • Recognize that some campuses must work with public safety units, not campus “police,” and that some public safety officers are “non-sworn.” As first responders on a case, public safety officers have the ability to request mutual aid from the jurisdiction of record and the appropriate investigative law enforcement agency.
  • Provide training that is Police Officer Standard Training (POST) certified or training that is required in the jurisdiction in order for officers to receive credit towards meeting their continued education requirements.
  • Determine whether a longer training on broad topics such as intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking is preferable to a series of trainings on specific topics such as drug-facilitated rape cases or cyberstalking.
  • Coordinate training, easing competition for time, by working with other campus police “trainers” to infuse gender-based violence issues in other areas of ongoing and pre-scheduled routine training.
  • Include, if possible, in every training, a cross section of supervisors, patrols, and detectives. This will help ensure that the information is given to all levels of rank and will facilitate the institutionalization of training protocols and procedures.
  • Promote effective collaboration and community-wide participation in all training events addressing intimate partner violence on campus.

Additional Recommendations for Campus Law Enforcement Training

Participate in Trauma-Informed and Social Justice/Racial Justice Oriented Training

When campus law enforcement and security officers are aware of common trauma reactions, they better understand the reasons behind victim/survivor behavior. Trauma-informed interviewing helps elicit pertinent information about the assault/incident and the victim’s/survivor’s experience. Social justice/racial justice oriented training helps officers better understand how historical trauma and systemic oppression impact survivors from oppressed and marginalized groups. All of this information leads to more successful investigations.

THE NATURE OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE CRIMES REQUIRES PREVENTION MESSAGING THAT IS BASED ON IDENTIFYING SUSPICIOUS PREDATORY BEHAVIORS, RATHER THAN CHANGING POTENTIAL VICTIM/SURVIVOR BEHAVIORS.

  • The training should cover the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed interviewing techniques should be highlighted. Specifically, officers should learn how trauma impacts brain functioning and the ways this affects victims’/survivors’ actions during an assault, their behavior and decision making after an assault, and how they remember and report the assault.
  • All trainings should be social justice/racial justice oriented and reflect the understanding that gender-based violence is rooted in oppression. Information on culturally relevant interviewing techniques should be highlighted. Additional content should include dismantling barriers that marginalized groups face when seeking help and working with survivors in culturally relevant and inclusive ways.
  • Staff members responsible for the training schedule should ensure training on gender-based violence issues is regular and ongoing. Whenever appropriate, the content should also be integrated into other trainings to reinforce the information.
  • The training coordinator should ensure that trainings are planned in collaboration with community-based sexual and domestic violence agencies and campus-based advocates (if applicable). Community-based agencies often have experience training law enforcement officers and other allied professionals on these issues. Along with campus-based advocates, they might also have a sense of how victims/survivors experience the system and where breakdowns commonly occur.

#4 Increase safety for and reduce retaliation toward reporting parties. Campuses should expend great efforts to protect the safety of victim/survivors by training employees in safety planning, adjudicating claims of retaliation in a timely fashion, and highlighting retaliation prohibitions in IPV-related policies.

What's Required

Prevent and Address Retaliation

Neither the school nor any of its constituents (students, staff, etc.) may retaliate against a victim/survivor in any way following a report of IPV. When a school knows or reasonably should know of possible retaliation by other students or third parties, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.

  • Retaliation is not always direct. It also includes indirect behavior that targets and harms the victim/survivor, like online harassment, maligning rumors or gossip, or third-party/proxy stalking.
  • Considering that students can experience retaliation as a result of reporting an incident, schools should ensure that reporting students and their support network, if appropriate, know how to report any subsequent problems. Schools should follow up regularly with reporting students to determine whether any retaliation or new incidents of harassment have occurred. Students should also be informed about how to report retaliation through an easily accessible university/college incident reporting system.

The following section is a direct excerpt from the April 2014 Office for Civil Rights Guidance (Questions and Answers on Title IX, 2014).

The Federal civil rights laws, including Title IX, make it unlawful to retaliate against an individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by these laws. This means that if an individual brings concerns about possible civil rights problems to a school’s attention, including publicly opposing sexual violence or filing a sexual violence complaint with the school or any State or Federal agency, it is unlawful for the school to retaliate against that individual for doing so. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual because he or she testified, or participated in any manner, in an OCR or school’s investigation or proceeding. Therefore, if a student, parent, teacher, coach, or other individual complains formally or informally about sexual violence or participates in an OCR or school’s investigation or proceedings related to sexual violence, the school is prohibited from retaliating (including intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against the individual) because of the individual’s complaint or participation.

A school should take steps to prevent retaliation against a student who filed a complaint either on his or her own behalf or on behalf of another student, or against those who provided information as witnesses.

Schools should be aware that complaints of sexual violence may be followed by retaliation against the complainant or witnesses by the alleged perpetrator or his or her associates. When a school knows or reasonably should know of possible retaliation by other students or third parties, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred. Title IX requires the school to protect the complainant*and witnesses and ensure their safety as necessary. At a minimum, this includes making sure that the complainant and his or her parents, if the complainant is in elementary or secondary school, and witnesses know how to report retaliation by school officials, other students, or third parties by making follow-up inquiries to see if there have been any new incidents or acts of retaliation, and by responding promptly and appropriately to address continuing or new problems. A school should also tell complainants and witnesses that Title IX prohibits retaliation, and that school officials will not only take steps to prevent retaliation, but will also take strong responsive action if it occurs.

* This section uses the term “complainant” as it is quoted directly from the Office for Civil Rights guidance.

What's Recommended

Clearly and Consistently Communicate with Victims/Survivors

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

  • Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.
  • Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Clear, transparent communication is integral to victims’/survivors’ trust in the system, is a cornerstone of a trauma-informed approach, and ensures survivors are more likely to participate in the process. Clear and consistent communication also helps to minimize feelings of anger and betrayal related to the process.

Title IX coordinators should:

Create procedures that include clear, up-front communication with survivors. Specifically, whoever meets with a survivor first should explain who else will be involved, what each person’s role is, and a general timeline of expected steps. This information should also be provided in written form.

Identify a contact person/liaison to maintain clear communication with all parties throughout the process. Even when there is no new information, the act of contacting survivors reassures them that their case has not been forgotten. If the institution utilizes a separate hearing process from the Title IX investigation, the head of the campus disciplinary process should ensure communicating with survivors is a key component of someone’s job.

Support Students Who Request No Action

A school should institute trauma-informed responses to victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality and/or no action following a report of IPV. Disregarding victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality disempowers them and can reduce reporting rates throughout the institution. There are many reasons why a victim/survivor may request confidentiality, may not want the institution to take action, or may change their mind during the process. Victims/survivors often fear retaliation, even when they are told the institution prohibits retaliation. This is particularly relevant to victims/survivors who are part of the same community or in a relationship with the perpetrator. Victims/survivors may fear other consequences related to marginalized or oppressed identities - consequences such as being rejected by their community, being outed, or being mistreated during the process.

When managing requests for no action, Title IX Coordinators should honor victims’/survivors’ request for confidentiality and/or no action whenever possible. Title IX coordinators should only override requests when the potential threat to overall community safety outweighs the negative impact on the victim/survivor. Per the Office of Civil Rights, these situations should generally involve an increased risk of the perpetrator committing additional acts of violence, an increased risk of future violence in a similar circumstance, or an increased level of danger such as the presence of a weapon or excessive use of violence.
If the decision to override such a request must be made, the Title IX Coordinator should:

  • Have transparent policies and procedures for overriding the request for confidentiality and/or no action. They should make this information public and easily accessible. Victims/survivors have the right to know what will happen to their information before they choose to share it. They also have the right to know they can request confidentiality when they disclose information. This way, victims/survivors can make informed choices and hold decision makers accountable to the policy.
  • Collaborate with victims/survivors on a case by case basis. Such actions should only be taken after consultation with victims/survivors and their advocates regarding the particular incident(s) in question. When Title IX Coordinators can gather information without revealing victims’/survivors’ identities, they should pursue those options first.
  • Inform the victim/survivor before taking any action. Coordinators should work with victim/survivor advocates to safety plan with victims/survivors and take all available steps to minimize negative impacts on them.

Provide Appropriate and Effective Advisors

Students directly involved in the Title IX and/or campus disciplinary process should have access to trained advisors. Both processes are complicated and overwhelming to all students involved. Advisors help students understand the process, assist them in preparing for interviews and hearings, and provide valuable support during the process.

Title IX coordinators and/or campus disciplinary professionals should:

  • Recruit a diverse pool of advisors. For students of color, LGBTQI+ students, and students from other oppressed and marginalized groups, being able to work with a safe and nonjudgmental advisor can be the determining factor in the student’s participation.
  • Suggest advisors who have special training and explain the pros and cons of working with non-trained advisors. In the end, though, students should be able to choose their own advisor. Forcing students to work with an advisor they do not want is disempowering, unhelpful, and can damage their trust in the process.
  • Inform advisors of their role and behavior expectations prior to the hearing and hold them accountable during the hearing. All advisors should have the same role and any limits placed on a victim’s/survivor’s advisor should also be placed on the respondent’s advisor. If the institution and/or the law allows attorneys to serve as advisors, their role should be the same as every other advisor’s role.

Partner with Local Experts

NCCADV recommends that institutions utilize and partner with the existing expertise of those in your community as you enhance your campus’s services to students. A list of local experts might include:

  • Campus advocates
  • Campus and community-based, culturally-specific resources
  • Campus and local law enforcement
  • Campus response team
  • Community and campus counseling services
  • Community Sexual Violence (SV) and Domestic Violence (DV) centers
  • Disability Services
  • LGBTQI+ Center
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV)
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA)
  • Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators, Assistant Coordinators, Investigators, and otherTitle IX-related staff

Review the Code of Conduct

Prior to conducting training for campus disciplinary or judicial boards, a campus should carefully review the current code of student conduct and ensure that the code:

  • Is victim/survivor-centered, in that it recognizes the effects of trauma and minimizes the burdens often placed on victims/survivors
  • Considers offender accountability
  • Defines a clear and concise disciplinary process
  • Defines uniform and consistent penalties for findings of responsibility
  • Identifies and clearly defines IPV, sexual assault, and stalking
  • Addresses confidentiality issues

Instate an Amnesty Policy

(Learn more from the NCCADV’s Model Policy and Guidance documents, page 17).

Institutions should create as safe and comfortable spaces as possible so that any victims/survivors who want to report to campus officials feel comfortable and safe doing so. Sometimes, victims/survivors and witnesses are hesitant to report to university officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as drug use or underage drinking at the time of the incident.

An amnesty policy offers victims/survivors and witnesses amnesty whenever possible from other policy violations related to the incident. Sometimes policy violations cannot be overlooked, so it is therefore recommended that institutions provide educational options, rather than punishment, for violations identified when students have experienced and/or reported IPV, stalking or sexual violence.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) suggests that “schools should consider whether their disciplinary policies have a chilling effect on victims* or other students’ reporting of sexual violence offenses” (Russlyn, 2011). The OCR provides the example that “schools inform students that the schools’ primary concern is student safety, that any other rules violations will be addressed separately from the sexual violence allegation, and that use of alcohol or drugs never makes the victim* at fault for sexual violence” (Russlyn, 2011).

* This section uses the term “victim” as it is quoted directly from the Office for Civil Rights guidance.

Instate a Responsible Action (Good Samaritan) Policy

(Learn more from the NCCADV’s Model Policy and Guidance documents, page 17).

Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble. A Responsible Action policy pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who offer help to others in need.

Sometimes policy violations cannot be overlooked, so therefore we recommend that institutions provide educational options, rather than punishment, for violations identified when students have offered their assistance to others in need.

Do Not Use Mediation

Mediation between reporting and responding parties is never an option. Mediation is a negotiated resolution between two parties. Placing an alleged perpetrator and victim/survivor in the same space to address the abuse can put the victim/survivor at risk for future abuse. Victims/survivors are likely to not share any abuse, or significantly minimize the abuse out of fear of retaliation from the perpetrator. Mediation may also imply that both parties are responsible for the abuse, when in fact only the perpetrator is responsible for the abusive behavior(s).

Provide a Comprehensive List of Resources to Students

Provide, in writing, a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of on-campus and off-campus community resources available for students regarding IPV, stalking, and sexual violence, including:

  • Athletics
  • Campus advocate
  • Campus and community-based, culturally-specific resources
  • Campus law enforcement
  • Campus response team
  • Civil Clerk’s Office
  • Community counseling services
  • Community Sexual Violence (SV) and Domestic Violence (DV) centers
  • Dean of Students
  • Director of Religious Life
  • Director of Residential Life
  • Disability Services
  • District Attorney’s Office (include whether they have a specialized DV/SV unit)
  • LGBTQI+ Center
  • Local hospital(s)
  • Local Legal Aid Office
  • Local NC Domestic Violence Center/shelter where applicable
  • Local police departments (include whether they have a specialized DV/SV unit)
  • Magistrate’s Office
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV)
  • North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA)
  • Off-campus medical care
  • Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
  • On-campus counseling
  • On-campus medical care
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner [SANE] Program
  • Sheriff’s department (include whether they have a specialized DV/SV unit)
  • Title IX Coordinator

Offer the Option of a Mutual Agreement

A respondent may choose to waive their right to a disciplinary conference or hearing, to accept responsibility for violations of the Code of Student Conduct, and to accept a sanction determined by a staff member in the Office of Student Conduct.

The following procedures apply for resolution by Mutual Agreement:

  • Upon being presented with the information regarding the charge(s), and providing a response to the charge(s), the respondent may accept responsibility and engage in a discussion about any factors that could impact sanctioning.
  • The staff member in the Office of Student Conduct will take into consideration any factors affecting possible sanctions and will determine appropriate sanctions to be presented to the respondent.
  • The respondent will be allowed to ask questions of the hearing officer regarding the suggested sanctions and will be permitted two (2) business days to consider the agreement. The respondent may be represented by an attorney or other advocate in accordance with the school’s specific policy/regulation and seek any outside counsel in making a decision to sign the Mutual Agreement.
  • The respondent may sign the Mutual Agreement, indicating an acceptance of responsibility for the allegation(s) and the sanctions. As a condition of entering into the agreement, a respondent waives their right to appeal the decision and sanctions.
  • The respondent may decide against signing the Mutual Agreement and may continue with the resolution of their case through the completion of another appropriate conduct process.

Incorporate Minimum Standards for Education of Staff

Institutions must provide primary prevention and awareness programs for all incoming students and new employees, along with ongoing prevention and awareness programs for current students and employees. For more information on the requirements for prevention education programs for faculty and staff, visit the Prevention and Education section.

Minimum Standards of Training for Campus Disciplinary and Judicial Boards

Review of Campus Code

For additional guidance, visit The NCCADV Guidance and Model Policy Documents


General Training Topics

All members of campus disciplinary boards, including faculty, staff, students, and administrators should receive expert training on gender-based violence prevention and response. Training topics could include:


General Considerations

The structure of campus disciplinary boards or judicial boards varies widely. Some boards are made up of faculty and administration officials while others are comprised of student representatives. Campuses should design all trainings in close collaboration with experts on gender-based violence issues.

When designing and implementing training programs, campuses should consider the following issues:

  • The differences between the processes of the criminal justice system and those involved in the academic judicial/disciplinary system
  • Ensuring that the training is continuous and ongoing so that all new members of the judicial/disciplinary boards receive information, especially if the board is appointed on a rotation
  • Maintaining retention of “trained” board members given the complexities and difficulties of such cases
  • Creating training that is effective and does not “promote bias” for either victims/survivors or offenders
  • Ensuring that all judicial/disciplinary cases are pursued in the same manner, regardless of who the victim/survivor and/or offender may be
  • Confidentiality issues
  • Working with law enforcement officials from the local jurisdiction
  • States laws on sexual and intimate partner violence and stalking:

Specific Training Topics

When developing trainings for disciplinary or judicial boards, campuses should also address the following specific topics:

Minimum Standards of Training for Campus Security Personnel

It is recommended that institutions train campus police to respond effectively in intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking cases. The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) recommends that training programs should be developed in collaboration with campus or community-based victim/survivor advocacy programs and should include information about:


General Training Topics

OVW recommends that campus security personnel trainings incorporate as many of the following general topics addressing intimate partner violence as possible:


Intimate Partner Violence Considerations

OVW recommends that campus security personnel training on intimate partner violence includes the following specific topics:


Sexual Assault Considerations

OVW recommends that campus security personnel training on sexual assault include the following specific topics:

  • Specific procedures for sexual assault exams and for evidence collection at the crime scene
  • “Known” perpetrator investigations
  • Communicating with victims/survivors about the course of the investigation
  • Appropriate interviewing techniques when questioning sexual assault victims/survivors 
  • Appropriate discussion with the victims/survivor regarding prosecution decisions
  • Specifics of rape trauma syndrome and its effects on victims/survivors
  • Relevant rape shield laws
  • Departmental decisions on how appropriately to handle victims/survivors who are facing issues of other violations in connection with their assault – such, as underage consumption or marijuana and other illegal substance possession.
  • Coordination between campus security personnel and campus health units or local hospitals working with Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner protocols.

For campus specific sexual assault considerations, visit the NCCASA Campus Resources page.


Stalking Considerations

OVW recommends that campus security personnel training on stalking include the following specific topics:

Campuses should carefully coordinate and plan training sessions for campus security personnel, and should design all trainings in close collaboration with experts on gender-based violence issues. The emphasis of the trainings should be that the response to victims/survivors needs to be timely, appropriate, sensitive, and respectful. Programs should work closely with campus security personnel to schedule convenient programming events to ensure attendance by the maximum number of officers.


Possible Challenges

In designing training programs for campus security personnel, campuses should be flexible and earnestly consider the following possible challenges:

  • Recognize that some campuses must work with public safety units, not campus “police,” and that some public safety officers are “non-sworn.” As first responders on a case, public safety officers have the ability to request mutual aid from the jurisdiction of record and the appropriate investigative law enforcement agency.
  • Provide training that is Police Officer Standard Training (POST) certified or training that is required in the jurisdiction in order for officers to receive credit towards meeting their continued education requirements.
  • Determine whether a longer training on broad topics such as intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking is preferable to a series of trainings on specific topics such as drug-facilitated rape cases or cyberstalking.
  • Coordinate training, easing competition for time, by working with other campus police “trainers” to infuse gender-based violence issues in other areas of ongoing and pre-scheduled routine training.
  • Include, if possible, in every training, a cross section of supervisors, patrols, and detectives. This will help ensure that the information is given to all levels of rank and will facilitate the institutionalization of training protocols and procedures.
  • Promote effective collaboration and community-wide participation in all training events addressing intimate partner violence on campus.

Additional Recommendations for Campus Law Enforcement Training

Participate in Trauma-Informed and Social Justice/Racial Justice Oriented Training

When campus law enforcement and security officers are aware of common trauma reactions, they better understand the reasons behind victim/survivor behavior. Trauma-informed interviewing helps elicit pertinent information about the assault/incident and the victim’s/survivor’s experience. Social justice/racial justice oriented training helps officers better understand how historical trauma and systemic oppression impact survivors from oppressed and marginalized groups. All of this information leads to more successful investigations.

THE NATURE OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE CRIMES REQUIRES PREVENTION MESSAGING THAT IS BASED ON IDENTIFYING SUSPICIOUS PREDATORY BEHAVIORS, RATHER THAN CHANGING POTENTIAL VICTIM/SURVIVOR BEHAVIORS.

  • The training should cover the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed interviewing techniques should be highlighted. Specifically, officers should learn how trauma impacts brain functioning and the ways this affects victims’/survivors’ actions during an assault, their behavior and decision making after an assault, and how they remember and report the assault.
  • All trainings should be social justice/racial justice oriented and reflect the understanding that gender-based violence is rooted in oppression. Information on culturally relevant interviewing techniques should be highlighted. Additional content should include dismantling barriers that marginalized groups face when seeking help and working with survivors in culturally relevant and inclusive ways.
  • Staff members responsible for the training schedule should ensure training on gender-based violence issues is regular and ongoing. Whenever appropriate, the content should also be integrated into other trainings to reinforce the information.
  • The training coordinator should ensure that trainings are planned in collaboration with community-based sexual and domestic violence agencies and campus-based advocates (if applicable). Community-based agencies often have experience training law enforcement officers and other allied professionals on these issues. Along with campus-based advocates, they might also have a sense of how victims/survivors experience the system and where breakdowns commonly occur.