Title IX, a federal anti-discrimination law, prohibits sex discrimination in education programs or activities. Belmont University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities, including but not limited to in admissions or employment. For inquiries about the application of Title IX to Belmont University, or to file a complaint, please contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Carly Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org or TitleIX@Belmont.edu, 615.460.6894, 1900 Belmont Boulevard, Fidelity Suite 204, Nashville, TN 37212. Any person may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment (whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sex discrimination or harassment), to the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, by telephone, or by electronic mail, including during non-business hours. Incidents of sex discrimination may also be reported to the Department of Education, Assistant Secretary.
The following text is taken from the Belmont University Bruin Guide.
Statement of Policy
Belmont University is a Christian community of learning and service. Our community is committed to the dignity and worth of every individual, which is embodied in our Community Commitment to Individual Worth. Discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual misconduct, is the antithesis of this Community Commitment. Because of our faith commitment, community values and obligations of federal law under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, members of the Belmont community, guests, and visitors have the right to be free from sexual misconduct and from retaliation for reporting incidents of sexual misconduct. Accordingly, the community rejects and responds assertively to sexual misconduct violations. When violations are found, Belmont will take action calculated to stop the behavior, ameliorate its effects, and/or prevent the behavior from reoccurring. Such action is likely to include, but is not limited to, suspension, expulsion, or dismissal of the person who violated this policy. This policy statement is aided and supported by the university’s Substance Free Community Policy as well as by its practice of providing secure, single-sex, on-campus residential living areas.
The following process alters the general Accountability Process found in the Bruin Guide and the Employee Handbook. This process governs the community’s response to sexual misconduct violations. When an incident involves multiple alleged violations, one of which is an alleged violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, this process will control for all violations.
Authority and Delegations
The Title IX Coordinator/Director is the University authority responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy. At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator/Director and in a manner not inconsistent with this policy, any of the duties or responsibilities described herein as belonging to the Title IX Coordinator/Director may be delegated or assigned.
Computation of Time/Notice by Official Email
Unless specifically indicated otherwise, timelines in this policy will be calculated using University business days (i.e., non-holiday weekdays on which the University is open and operating, whether or not classes are in session).
An email to a Belmont-provided email address, or any contact effort for non-Belmont individuals, shall be considered official notice under this Policy.
The university retains the right to address violations of its Sexual Misconduct Policy when the violation involves: a Complainant and a Respondent that are both members of the Belmont community, such as, but not limited to, students, faculty, staff, and contractors and (1) the incident occurred on campus; (2) the incident occurred at an off-campus Belmont activity or event; or (3) the incident occurred off-campus and denies or limits the ability of the Complainant to participate in or benefit from Belmont’s educational programs or activities.
When the Complainant or Respondent is not a member of the Belmont community, it limits the authority the university can exercise over that individual. In those situations, the university retains the right to conduct an investigation and provide appropriate remedies. The Title IX Coordinator may continue under the Alternative Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process, refer the Respondent to a more appropriate university process for a response, close the matter, or take other action within the administrative discretion of the Title IX Coordinator.
The Sexual Misconduct Policy and Other Policy Violations*
The well-being and safety of Belmont community members is of critical importance to our community. Accordingly, special consideration will be given in cases where concern over other violations of policy may create a disincentive for Belmont individuals to report violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
If a person(s) reports a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the university may choose not to pursue any other conduct violations it learns of related to the incident. These violations may include, but are not limited to, violations of the Substance-Free Community Policy, Visitation Policy, Sexual Values Policy, etc. This applies to the person making the report, witnesses or others who may be able to provide information, and the person who experienced the sexual misconduct if he or she is someone other than the reporting person.
The university’s goal in not pursuing potential violations by others involved is to encourage reporting. It does not condone those violations. Accordingly, this special consideration will not excuse any violations by someone found to be in violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
*The Sexual Misconduct Policy, in part, addresses non-consensual sexual behavior. This policy is not to be confused with the community’s policy regarding consensual sexual behavior. Please refer to the “Sexual Values Policy” in the Community Commitment to Self-Control section of the Bruin Guide for expectations related to consensual sexual behavior. Consent is defined under the Definition section of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
- Consent: Belmont University defines consent as follows. Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable, clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual behavior. Consent to any one form of sexual behavior does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual behavior. Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual behavior. Consent cannot be given by someone under the age of 18. Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated or who is being subjected to Coercion.
- Coercion: Words or conduct that, viewed from the perspective of a Reasonable Person, substantially impair a person’s ability to voluntarily choose whether to engage in a particular sexual act. Coercion is something more than mere seduction or persuasion. Coercion includes, without limitation:
- Physical force; and
- words and /or conduct that would cause a Reasonable Person to fear imminent harm to the person’s health, safety, or property or that of a third person; threat of the loss of a job benefit; or kidnapping of the person or a third person.
- Incapacitated (or Incapacitation): A temporary or permanent state in which a person cannot make informed, rational judgments (e.g., judgments concerning sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or sexual exploitation) because the person lacks the physical or mental capacity to understand the consequences of their words and/or conduct; and /or the person is unable to physically or verbally communicate consent.
- Preponderance of the Evidence: The amount of evidence that causes one to conclude that an allegation is probably true (i.e., more likely true than not true). If the evidence on a particular allegation is equally balanced, then that allegation has not been proved by a preponderance of the evidence.
- Complainant: An individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
- Respondent: An individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
- Responsible Employee: Any Belmont employee who is not employed in Facilities Management Services and is not classified as a student worker, except, however, that student workers employed as Resident Assistants are considered Responsible Employees.
- Reasonable Person: A reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.
- Officials with Authority to Institute Corrective Measures: The Title IX Coordinator/Deputy Title IX Coordinator, University President, University Provost, and Dean of Students.
- Sexual Misconduct: For the purposes of this policy, “Sexual Misconduct” includes Sexual Harassment and Sexual Exploitation.
- Title IX Scope: Sexual Harassment occurring in any educational programs or activities of Belmont University at locations within the United States, including:
- Locations, events, and circumstances in which Belmont University exercises substantial control over:
- The Respondent; and
- The context in which the sexual harassment occurs; or
- Buildings owned or controlled by recognized student organizations; or
- On Belmont University Campuses.
Within Belmont University’s educational programs and activities, this policy applies to the following individuals:
- University employees, including faculty, full-time staff and part-time staff.
- Third-party contractors
- Locations, events, and circumstances in which Belmont University exercises substantial control over:
- Sexual Misconduct Outside the Scope of Title IX: Any conduct which occurs outside the Title IX Scope but which meets the definition of Sexual Misconduct under this Policy, including, for example, sexual assault or stalking involving students but occurring at an off-campus, non-Belmont affiliated location.
- Sexual Harassment:
- Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment. An employee conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct.
- Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment. Unwelcome conduct determined by a Reasonable Person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person the ability to perform their job functions or denies a person equal access to the relevant education program or activity.
- Sexual Assault: An offense classified as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which includes Forcible Rape, Forcible Sodomy, Sexual Assault with an Object, Forcible Fondling, Incest, and Statutory Rape. (See Appendix A for these definitions.)
- Dating Violence: Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the Complainant’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. For the purposes of this definition:
- Dating Violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
- Dating Violence does not include acts covered under the definition of Domestic Violence.
- Domestic Violence: A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence, committed:
- By a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant;
- By a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common;
- By a person who is cohabitating with, or who has cohabitated with, the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner;
- By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the state; or
- By any other person against an adult or youth Complainant who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the state.
- Stalking: Engaging in a Course of Conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a Reasonable Person to:
- Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
- Suffer Substantial Emotional Distress.
For the purposes of this definition, “Course of Conduct” means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property. “Substantial Emotional Distress” means significant mental suffering or anguish that may but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
- Sexual Exploitation. Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct violations.
Sexual exploitation may include, but is not limited to, the following behavior:
- invasion of sexual privacy;
- prostituting another person;
- non-consensual video or audio-taping of sexual activity;
- non-consensual photography of a community member while nude or partially nude, or the non-consensual distribution of such a photo or video;
- going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends hide in the closet to watch you having consensual sex);
- engaging in voyeurism;
- knowingly exposing another person to an STI or HIV without that person’s informed consent;
- exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances; inducing another to expose their genitals; and
- sexually-based stalking and/or bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation.
- Actual Knowledge: The University has actual knowledge of, and is required to respond to, allegations of sexual harassment when notice is provided to the Title IX Coordinator/Deputy Title IX Coordinator or an Official with Authority to Institute Corrective Measures on behalf of Belmont University. Complainants are encouraged to file complaints directly with the Title IX Coordinator/Director or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator, but may also report to an Official with Authority to Institute Corrective Measures.
- Formal Complaint: A document that alleges Sexual Harassment against a Respondent and requests an investigation of the allegation that is either:
- Filed by a Complainant, or
- Signed by the Title IX Coordinator/Director or designee; and
Is filed at the time the Complainant is participating or attempting to participate in the educational program or activity of the University.
- Supportive Measures: Available in both Title IX Scope and non-Title IX Scope cases of sexual misconduct, individualized services reasonably and equitably available to Complainants and Respondents that are non-punitive, non-disciplinary, and not unreasonably burdensome to the other party, while designed to ensure equal educational/employment access, protect safety, or deter sexual harassment. These Supportive/Interim Measures are available before or after the filing of a Formal Complaint, and also in the event no Formal Complaint is filed.
In all cases, Supportive Measures —both interim and permanent—can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Interim separation from the university;
- Removal from or modification of living arrangements;
- Removal from or modification of academic courses, including extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments;
- Removal from or modification of co-curricular program and activities, including athletics;
- Placement of an administrative hold on a student’s accounts prohibiting access to transcript request and other services, including the issuance of a diploma;
- Escort while on campus or increased monitoring of certain areas by Campus Security;
- No-Contact Orders between involved individuals;
- No-Trespass Order on Belmont’s campus for an individual;
- Advisory letter. For example, a letter informing a person, organization, team, etc. that actions or behavior that created an environment conducive to violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy should end immediately or result in a further response by the university;
- Alleging violation(s) of other university commitments or policies for a person, organization, team, etc. whose actions or behavior created an environment conducive to violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy;
- Assistance with retaking coursework or withdrawing from a course(s) without penalty;
- Assistance locating an off-campus counselor if on–campus counseling cannot meet needs; and
- Any necessary emergency action at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, including interim separation from the university. Emergency removal of a Respondent from an educational program or activity may occur following an individualized safety and risk analysis by the Title IX Coordinator which determines an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of a student or other individual, arising from the allegations of sexual misconduct, justifies removal. In this case, the Respondent shall receive notice and an opportunity to challenge the decision immediately following the removal.
- Immediate Steps
Get to a safe place, such as a Residence Assistant’s or Residence Director’s room, the campus security offices (located in Gabhart Student Center) or a trusted friend’s room or off-campus residence. If you are off campus and injured, call 911 for immediate help. If you are on campus and injured, call Campus Security at (615) 460-6911 for immediate help. Campus Security will come to your aid and summon Metro emergency responders.
If you have been the victim of non-consensual sexual intercourse, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a rape evidence examination to preserve evidence and support your opportunity to make decisions later. If possible, take a trusted friend or relative with you to the exam to provide additional support. Belmont personnel from the Office of Student Affairs are available to accompany you to the exam. Victims of sexual assault may obtain an exam at the following locations:
Metro General Hospital, 1818 Albion Street, Nashville, TN 37208
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 1313 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37232
Nashville Sexual Assault Center, 101 French Landing Drive, Nashville, TN 37228
Deciding whether or not to report a crime to police may be difficult for you. If you decide to have an exam, by procedure medical staff will alert the police of your arrival. It is up to you if you would like to file a police report or talk to a police officer. You will be asked if you would like a sexual assault counselor to assist you at the facility. This counselor is trained to help you think through your options as well as answer any questions that you might have throughout the entire process.
Until you decide whether or not to have evidence collected it is very important to remember that there are things that you should not do:
- DO NOT shower or brush your teeth, if at all possible.
- DO NOT go to the bathroom, if at all possible.
- DO NOT drink or smoke.
- DO NOT change your clothes or underwear. If you have removed this clothing, bring it with you to the exam in a paper bag. This may preserve a lot of evidence.
- Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the University
- Reporting to the Title IX Coordinator
Any person may report sexual misconduct, including filing a Formal Complaint, to Belmont’s Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator, whether during or outside regular business hours:
Title IX Coordinator
Fidelity Suite 204
Email: email@example.com or TitleIX@belmont.edu
Chief Human Resources Officer/Sr. Director & Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Office of Human Resources
Belmont’s Title IX Coordinator/Deputy will NOT: (1) contact a reporter’s parents to discuss sexual misconduct; (2) seek sanctions against a reporter for policy violations connected to the sexual misconduct event, such as violations of the substance abuse or visitation policies; or (3) force a reporter to pursue a Formal Complaint. Regardless of whether an individual intends to pursue a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator can provide valuable resources such as referrals to counseling, University Ministries, and the Nashville Sexual Assault Center, and assistance with academic, housing, and other concerns.
- Confidential Resources
The University’s Support Advocate is a primary source serving as a confidential advisor to provide support, assistance, and knowledge of resources, rights, and referrals to victims of crimes such as sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, harassment, and stalking. Belmont’s Support Advocate is:
Dr. Amy Hodges Hamilton
Additionally, individuals may seek confidential, professional assistance in the form of counseling, advocacy and/or support related to their experience or a friend’s experience of sexual misconduct via the following Belmont services:
- Counseling Services at 615-460-6856
- Health Services at 615-460-5506
- University Ministries Pastoral Care at 615-460-6419
- Non-Confidential Resources
The University has designated certain employees as “Responsible Employees” for reporting violations of the sexual misconduct policy. These employees include, but are not limited to, officers in Campus Security, members of the faculty, and staff members in Residence Life, the Dean of Students office, Athletics, and Human Resources. Any person may report sexual misconduct to a Responsible Employee regardless of whether he or she was the one who directly experienced the sexual misconduct.
- Reporting to the Title IX Coordinator
- Reporting Sexual Misconduct to External Authorities
Behavior that violates the Sexual Misconduct Policy may also constitute illegal criminal acts. The university’s accountability process is separate and distinct from any criminal process a person may wish to pursue. A person may pursue both simultaneously. The university will assist individuals with beginning the process of contacting the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department.
Alternatively, a person may contact the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department directly. The Sex Crimes Section is open from 7:30 AM to 11 PM, Monday through Friday, though detectives are on-call 24 hours a day. To report a crime occurring locally to external authorities, please contact: Nashville Metropolitan Police Department’s Sex Crimes Section at 615-862-7540.
- Non-Belmont Resources
Additionally, the following is a list of non-Belmont resources which can assist individuals who have been affected by sexual assault. Belmont University does not have a contractual relationship with any of the resources listed below. They are simply listed as a courtesy to community members. Individuals should determine for themselves whether they feel the agency will meet their needs.
- 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-879-1999
- Crisis Intervention Hotline (crisis counseling) at 615-244-7444
- National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233
- 24-hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
- Weaver YWCA Domestic Violence Center at 615-242-1199
- A Complainant (Title IX Scope or otherwise) has the right to make a request for privacy, meaning she/he does not wish to pursue a Formal Complaint pertaining to reported Sexual Misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator will honor a request for privacy, except when there is a substantial risk to the safety or orderly operation of the community. In cases where the Title IX Coordinator determines a substantial risk exists, the Coordinator may sign a Formal Complaint (Complainant may choose not to participate.) To evaluate whether the risk of such harm exists, the Title IX Coordinator will consider, among other factors, whether the following factors exist:
- The Respondent has a demonstrated pattern of behavior violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy;
- The Respondent has threatened further violence;
- The Respondent used a weapon;
- There is more than one Respondent alleged to have violated the Sexual Misconduct Policy during the incident; and/or
- The community is at an increased risk of future acts occurring due to the unique circumstances of the incident (e.g. recurring off-campus house party, occurring during school-related travel, etc.).
- Complainant should be aware that his/her request for privacy may hinder the Title IX Coordinator’s ability to take remedial actions. This is particularly true for remedial actions aimed at the Respondent.
- A Complainant may reopen a report in which a request for privacy has been granted. Complainant should note that the passage of time may inhibit the university’s ability to effectively investigate a reopened report.
General Grievance Procedures
Throughout the grievance process, whether such cases are within Title IX Scope or otherwise, Complainants and Respondents shall be treated equitably, including access to supportive measures, notices and opportunities to be heard as described in this policy, and imposition of disciplinary sanctions only after completion of the grievance process. A Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct until a formal determination is made following the grievance process. Credibility determinations may not be based on a person’s status as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness. For procedures specific to the Title IX Scope Sexual Misconduct Process or the Alternative Sexual Misconduct Process, see Appendices B and C.
Informal Resolution is available in Title IX Scope cases after a Formal Complaint is filed, and in non-Title IX Scope incidents regardless of whether a Formal Complaint is filed. Informal Resolution is available at any time prior to the issuance of a decision pertaining to responsibility.
- “Informal resolution” refers to a process by which a formal complaint of sexual harassment is resolved without a full investigation and adjudication.
- Informal resolution may be used in all cases under this policy except those in which the complaint alleges employee-on-student sexual harassment.
- For all cases in which informal resolution is available, the parties shall be provided written notice disclosing the following:
- A brief recitation of the allegations.
- The requirements of the informal resolution process.
- The right of each party to withdraw from the informal resolution process at any time prior to agreeing to a final resolution and proceed to a live hearing or other applicable process.
- All parties must provide voluntary, written agreement to participate in the informal resolution process.
- Time for Completion. The informal resolution process shall be completed within sixty (60) days of the parties’ agreement to participate, absent good cause. Upon the existence of a delay for good cause, the Title IX Coordinator shall provide the Complainant and Respondent with written notice of the delay or extension, and reason for the action.
Sanctions or Remedies
The Title IX Coordinator in the Alternative Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process, and the Hearing Officer(s) in the Title IX Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process, may assign sanctions or remedies. Sanctions and remedies are calculated to stop the behavior, ameliorate its effects, and/or prevent the behavior from reoccurring. In all cases, sanctions for violation(s) can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Verbal Reprimand;
- Written Reprimand;
- Removal of University Housing. A person removed from Belmont housing for accountability reasons will be responsible for all housing charges assessed for the semester he/she is removed and will forfeit any applicable housing deposit. Additionally, the student will be responsible for the complete payment of his/her current meal plan, unless he/she receives an exemption from University Housing;
- Reflection Essays;
- Letters of Apology;
- Community Service;
- Required attendance in educational seminars, programs, etc.;
- Drug Testing;
- Loss of privileges, such as the privilege to move off-campus, membership in co-curricular organizations, etc.;
- Permanent No-Contact Orders between involved individuals;
- Permanent No-Trespass Order on Belmont’s campus for an individual;
- Limited Probation. Limited Probation is defined as a period of time during which any further violation of the same nature within the Community Code of Conduct puts the student’s status with the university in jeopardy. If the student is found “responsible” for another violation of the same nature during the period of Limited Probation, serious consideration will be given to imposing a sanction of Institutional Probation, Suspension or Expulsion. Limited Probation could potentially affect the student’s ability to represent the university in leadership positions or on athletic teams, participation in student activities or study abroad opportunities, entrance into university residence halls or other areas of campus, or contact with another specific person(s). The university may choose to treat violations of a different nature either as separate from the limited probation or extend the limited probation to encompass that behavior. In those circumstances, the university will consider the totality of the students’ conduct record when determining an appropriate sanction;
- Institutional Probation. Institutional Probation is defined as a period of time during which any further violation of the Community Code of Conduct puts the student’s status with the university in jeopardy. If the student is found “responsible” for another violation during the period of Institutional Probation, serious consideration will be given to imposing a sanction of Suspension or Expulsion. Institutional Probation could potentially affect his/her ability to represent the university in leadership positions or on athletic teams, participation in student activities and study aboard opportunities, entrance into university residence halls or other areas of campus, or contact with another specific person(s);
- Suspension from Belmont University. Separation from the university for a specified period, which includes loss of all tuition, fees, coursework and other privileges of an enrolled student; and
- Expulsion from Belmont University. Separation from the university without the possibility of readmission. A student will lose all tuition, fees, coursework and other privileges of an enrolled student.
- Employee discipline, up to and including suspension from employment (with or without pay) or termination of employment.
No person shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or this policy, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy. Reports of retaliation may be made to the Title IX Coordinator/Deputy, or as otherwise provided for sexual misconduct reports under this policy.
Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process – Cases Not Within Title IX Scope (“Alternative Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process”) – See Appendix B
Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process – Cases Within Title IX Scope (“Title IX Scope Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process”) – See Appendix C
The appeal process below applies to all sexual misconduct cases, whether or not within the Title IX Scope:
- Decisions Subject To Appeal. Either party may appeal in writing the following decisions, within five (5) days of notification of the decision:
- To dismiss a formal complaint or any allegation therein.
- A finding pertaining to responsibility.
- Appellate Officers. A single appellate officer shall be appointed to hear an appeal as soon as practicable after the appeal is received.
- Grounds for Appeal. The appeal must state one or more of the following grounds:
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome.
- Newly discovered evidence that could affect the outcome.
- Actual conflict of interest or actual bias by an administrator or decision maker that affected the outcome.
- Dismissal of Appeal. If, upon review of the appeal, the appellate officer determines that the appeal fails to state proper grounds or was not timely filed, the appeal shall be dismissed, and the parties notified of the outcome.
- Appellate Review.
- A timely appeal that states proper grounds shall be provided to all parties and their advisors, with the non-appealing party given five days to provide a written response to the appellate officer.
- A party that did not initially appeal may be given an opportunity to appeal, based on the information in the initial appeal, in the same manner as the initial appeal.
- Appellate Standard of Review. Deference is given to the original findings of fact and decision on responsibility or substantiation and/or any outcomes; therefore, the burden is on the individual filing an appeal request to sufficiently demonstrate cause to alter the challenged decision or any outcomes. An appellate review will generally be limited to a review of the record of the hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the bases of appeal listed above, provided however, that under extraordinary circumstances the appellate officer may request additional information or clarification from the University, investigator(s), hearing officer, Complainant, Respondent, or witnesses for purposes of this review.
- Appellate Decisions. Upon review of a timely appeal that states proper grounds, the appellate officer may choose one of the following outcomes, which shall be communicated in writing to the parties and their advisors within fifteen (15) days of the filing of the appeal:
- Affirmation of the original decision of responsibility and sanctions.
- Affirmation of the original decision regarding responsibility and modifying sanctions.
- Reversing the original decision regarding responsibility and sanctions.
Appellate decisions are final and will be communicated in writing via the student’s Belmont e-mail address. The student is considered to have received the appellate response upon the response being sent to the student’s Belmont e-mail address. The decision shall include a statement of the materials reviewed and the reasoning for the appellate officer’s decision on each of the raised grounds for appeal.
- Stays Pending Appeal. Any disciplinary sanctions imposed as a result of a hearing are stayed during the appellate process. Disciplinary sanctions shall be implemented as soon as practicable after appellate process has completed.
- Registration or diploma holds and No Contact Orders are not considered disciplinary sanctions under this policy.
- If it is determined by the appellate officer that sanctions should be immediately implemented, the student Respondent is entitled to notice and an opportunity to respond to this decision, while implementation of the sanctions proceeds. If the Respondent is an employee, the Respondent may be placed on administrative leave, in accordance with existing University policies.
“Sexual Assault” Definitions
Sexual Assault: An offense classified as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which includes Forcible Rape, Forcible Sodomy, Sexual Assault with an Object, Forcible Fondling, Incest, and Statutory Rape.
- Forcible Rape. Penetration or attempted penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without consent of the Complainant.
- Forcible Sodomy. Oral or anal sexual intercourse or attested intercourse with another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will (non-consensually) in instances where the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Sexual Assault With An Object. To use or attempt to use an object or instrument to penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will (nonconsensually) in instances where the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Forcible Fondling. The touching or attempted touching of the private body parts of another person (buttocks, groin, breasts) for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly and/or against that person’s will (nonconsensually) or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances where the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Incest. Nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by state law.
- Statutory Rape. Nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process – Cases Not Within Title IX Scope (“Alternative Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process”)
The Alternative Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process applies in sexual misconduct cases which are not within the Title IX Scope (see Title IX Scope in Definitions section of this policy). In addition to covering Sexual Harassment, allegations of Sexual Exploitation also are governed by the Alterative Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process.
- Formal Complaint
A Formal Complaint of Sexual Misconduct, which alleges sexual misconduct and requests an investigation into the allegations, may be filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator. The Formal Complaint may be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator/Deputy or to any Official with Authority to Institute Corrective Measures, as defined in this policy.
- Completion Time
The Title IX Coordinator will endeavor to deliver outcome letters to the Complainant and Respondent, stating the determination pertaining to responsibility and any sanctions or remedies, within sixty (60) days from the date of the initial review, barring good cause at the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator with notice to the parties.
- Support Advisors
Throughout the Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process, both parties are entitled to a Support Advisor of their choosing to attend any meetings with the Title IX Coordinator, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator, the Intake Officer or any assigned Investigator(s). An advisor is solely for support and may not speak, present information for consideration, or otherwise directly influence the process. Any attempt to do so can result in the Title IX Coordinator taking action against the advisor up to and including permanent removal from the process and alleging a separate failure to comply violation against the advisor’s party. The community member involved in the investigation, rather than his/her advisor, shall communicate directly with the university officials involved in the Title IX process. The University cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an attorney as their advisor, the university in not obligated to provide an attorney to any other party.
- Initial Review
In matters involving allegations of sexual misconduct by a Belmont student, a Belmont employee if reported by a student, or a non-Belmont affiliate, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator will review the Complainant’s statement and determine if the initial reported behavior falls under the purview of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. If the Deputy Title IX Officer determines that the written statement contains an allegation of sexual misconduct, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator will recommend that the matter:
- continue under the Alternative Administrative Resolution Process;
- continue under the Formal Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process; or
- result in other action within the administrative discretion of the Title IX Coordinator.
- University Employees
In matters involving allegations of sexual misconduct by a Belmont employee that does not have any student connection, the Title IX Coordinator will review the initial report and determine if the initial reported behavior falls under the purview of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the written statement contains an allegation of sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the matter to the Department of Human Resources for further investigation and adjudication.
- Alternative Administrative Resolution Process
- At any time following the initial review and prior to a determination of responsibility, at the request of the parties, at the recommendation of the Deputy Title IX Coordinator or at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, any matter other than one involving an allegation of sexual assault may proceed through the Alternative Administrative Resolution Process.
- The Title IX Coordinator will put all parties on notice of the commencement of an Alternative Administrative Resolution Process by email notification. Additionally, the Respondent will receive a copy of the written statement submitted by the Complainant. All parties may choose to meet with the Title IX Coordinator to discuss the process. This meeting shall be limited to procedural information only. The Title IX Coordinator will not discuss the merits of the allegations with either party.
- An Alternative Administrative Resolution Determination is final. It formally ends the university’s accountability process related to the alleged incident of sexual misconduct, absent new behavior. Accordingly, individuals are advised to give thoughtful consideration on what they desire the university to do in response to an alleged violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy before requesting Alternative Administrative Resolution.
- In determining whether to grant Alternative Administrative Resolution, the Title IX Coordinator will consider factors such as, but not limited to, substantial risk to the safety or orderly operation of the community, the severity of the allegations, and timing in the process.
- Alternative Administrative Resolution allows the Title IX Coordinator to assign sanctions and remedies intended to stop, ameliorate, and prevent the reoccurrence of the sexual misconduct as well as any other violation(s); and create an informational record of the incident for internal purposes and consideration, such as—but not limited to— use in future accountability proceedings, use in recommendations for study abroad, consideration in granting positions that represent the university, and conferring university awards.
- Alternative Administrative Resolution does not allow the Title IX Coordinator to make a determination of responsibility; suspend, expel, dismiss, or place a Respondent on institutional probation status with the university; or create a university conduct record that is subject to internal and external disclosures under FERPA.
- The Title IX Coordinator will strive to deliver resolution letters outlining any sanctions and remedies to the Complainant and Respondent within 60 days from the date of the initial review, barring reasonable cause at the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator with notice to the parties.
- Neither a Complainant nor Respondent may appeal an Alternative Administrative Resolution.
- An Alternative Administrative Resolution is a final action and ends university involvement. A report may not be reopened.
- Formal Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process
- At the recommendation of the Deputy Title IX Coordinator’s initial review or at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, a Formal Complaint may proceed in accordance with the Formal Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process.
- The Title IX Coordinator will put all parties on notice of the commencement of a Formal Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process by email notification. All parties may choose to meet with the Title IX Coordinator to discuss the process. This meeting shall be limited to procedural information only. The Title IX Coordinator will not discuss the merits of the allegations with either party. The Respondent will learn the nature of the allegations prior to being interviewed by the investigator(s).
- The Title IX Coordinator maintains the right to review whether reason to continue exists during the Formal Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process. If at any time the Title IX Coordinator determines that there is no reason to continue the matter, the Title IX Coordinator has the sole discretion to end the Formal Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process with notice to the parties.
- The Title IX Coordinator will assign at least one (1) neutral investigator to the investigation. The investigator(s) will be trained on a yearly basis to conduct sexual misconduct investigations in accordance with this policy.
- Once assigned, an Investigator will contact the parties to schedule an interview. A maximum of three attempts will be made to contact the parties using either his or her Belmont provided email account or the contact information provided in the initial report.
- The Investigator(s) reserves the right to schedule the time, date, and location at his/her sole discretion and may take under consideration such factors as a person’s schedule, Investigator(s)’ schedule, prejudice to the person of delaying the interview date, the time necessary to collect information, nature of the alleged violation(s), and other factors. The parties may participate in person (preferred), in writing, by phone, or electronically.
- The Investigator(s) shall not meet with the Complainant and Respondent at the same time.
- The Investigator(s) should interview the parties regarding the Complainant’s written statement. In addition, the Respondent will be provided a copy of the written statement submitted by the Complainant at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to his/her participation in any interview. An investigator shall not consider any evidence about the parties’ prior sexual conduct with anyone other than each other. Evidence of a prior consensual dating or sexual relationship between the parties by itself does not imply consent or preclude a finding of sexual misconduct.
- During an investigation, parties may:
- Present information in any form (personal account, text messages, emails, etc.) regarding what happened during the alleged incident;
- Inform the Investigator(s) of any witnesses of the alleged incident and provide their contact information; and/or
- Not provide information in response to questions at his or her choosing.
- In consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, the Investigator(s) will determine whether information is relevant to determining what happened during an incident. Accordingly, the Investigator(s) may redirect or not allow information to be shared.
- The Investigator may meet with individuals that have information regarding what happened during an incident as many times as he or she reasonable believes is necessary to collect information.
- All in-person interviews will be recorded.
- The Investigator(s) will prepare a transcript for the parties and their witnesses based on the information provided at the interview(s). Once this transcript is prepared, the Investigator(s) will email the transcript to the parties and provide a deadline to approve the transcript via email acknowledgement. The parties shall inform the Investigator(s) of any discrepancies within the transcript and make any necessary amendment prior to approving the statement.
- Witnesses are expected to cooperate with all university investigations. In some circumstances and at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, a witness may be compelled to participate. Investigator(s) will attempt to contact a witness no less than 3 times. If the witness does not respond after the third attempt, the Investigator(s) will determine that the witness does not want to participate in the investigation. Witnesses who elect not to participate in the investigation are prohibited from presenting any information regarding the alleged conduct for the remainder of the investigation, including the appellate stage, unless the information was not available at the time of the request.
- Prior to completing an investigation, the Investigator(s) shall email all final transcripts and evidence to the parties for their review. The parties shall have five business days to review the information and submit a final statement based on the information. If a party fails to provide comment within the five business day period, the university will proceed with the accountability process under the assumption that all information in the investigatory file is accurate. Following the five business day period of review, the Investigator(s) will submit the entire investigatory file to the Title IX Coordinator for determination of responsibility.
- Determination of Responsibility
- The Title IX Coordinator will review the investigatory file and make a determination of responsibility regarding the alleged violation(s).
- The determination of responsibility will be based upon the preponderance of the evidence; accordingly, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether it was more likely than not an alleged violation(s) occurred.
- Based on the investigatory file, the Title IX Coordinator may find the Respondent responsible for the alleged violation or not responsible for the alleged violation.
- Prior to making a determination, the Title IX Coordinator may ask the Investigator(s) to clarify information, conduct further investigation through follow-up questions, give an opinion on the credibility of the information, and address any other concerns relevant to his or her deliberations.
- Prior to making the determination, the Title IX Coordinator may consider granting an Alternative Administrative Resolution if requested by the Complainant or Respondent or proceeding with the Alternative Administrative Resolution Process at their discretion, or to refer the case to Informal Resolution upon the agreement of the parties to do so.
- If the Respondent is found responsible, the Title IX Coordinator will assign sanctions and remedies in consultation with other appropriate campus leaders.
- Determination of Responsibility, sanctions, and remedies will become part of the Respondent’s university conduct record and may be shared both internally and externally in accordance with the person’s FERPA rights.
Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process – Cases Within Title IX Scope (“Title IX Scope Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process”)
Because of significant changes necessitated by the federal government’s 2020 interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, commonly known as “Title IX,” found at 34 C.F.R. §106 (The Rule), cases within the Title IX Scope will utilize the following grievance procedure:
- Completion Time. The grievance procedure, from the date the formal complaint is filed through the exhaustion of any appeals, shall be completed within 120 days, absent good cause. Good cause shall include, but not be limited to, the absence of a party, the party’s advisor, or witness; concurrent law enforcement activity; the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities; or local, state, or national emergencies. Upon the existence of a delay for good cause, the Title IX Coordinator shall provide written notice to the Complainant and Respondent of the delay or extension and reason for the action.
- Formal Complaint. A Formal Complaint may be filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator. Upon receipt of a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator shall provide the following written notice to the parties who are known:
- Notice of the grievance process;
- Notice of the allegations of sexual harassment, including sufficient details known at the time and with sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview.
- Grounds for Mandatory Dismissal. If, upon examination, the formal complaint does not allege facts which, if true, would meet the definition of Sexual Harassment or are not alleged to have occurred within the Title IX Scope, the formal complaint shall be dismissed from the Title IX Scope Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process and referred for analysis under the Alternative Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process.
A decision to proceed with an alternate investigative or disciplinary process after a mandatory dismissal, standing alone, does not constitute retaliation against a Respondent.
For cases in which the allegations of sexual harassment could also constitute violations of Title VII and/or University policies implementing Title VII, the University may utilize the process described in this policy to address all allegations and rely on the outcome for disciplinary purposes. The University shall give reasonable notice to the Respondent if it intends to utilize this policy to engage in fact-finding or adjudication of a Title VII matter in a particular case.
- Grounds for Discretionary Dismissal. The Title IX Coordinator may dismiss a Formal Complaint in whole or in part at any time during the investigation or hearing process where:
- The Complainant notifies the Title IX Office in writing that the Complainant wishes to withdraw the Formal Complaint or any allegations therein;
- The Respondent is no longer enrolled at or employed by the University; or
- Other specific circumstances prevent the University from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or any allegation therein.
Both parties shall be notified in writing within five days of a dismissal under this section, and the reasons for the dismissal. A decision to proceed with an alternate investigative or disciplinary process after a discretionary dismissal, standing alone, does not constitute retaliation against a Respondent.
- Grounds for Proceeding Contrary to a Complainant’s Request for Dismissal. The University may decline to dismiss a formal complaint or any allegation therein after receiving notification from a Complainant of a wish to withdraw the complaint, in whole or in part. The University will utilize the following factors in determining whether to move forward with the complaint:
- Whether the former Complainant is willing to appear at a live hearing as a witness;
- The seriousness of the alleged offense (including, but not limited to, whether the allegation involved use of a weapon or included severe physical injury to the Complainant);
- The risk that the Respondent will commit additional acts of sexual harassment, such as whether:
- There have been other disclosures or reports against the Respondent;
- The Respondent has a history of arrests or records from a prior school/employer indicating a history of sexual harassment or a history of violence;
- The Respondent threatened further sexual harassment or violence against the Complainant or others; or
- The offense was committed by multiple individuals.
- Whether the report or formal complaint reveals a pattern of perpetration (e.g., via illicit use of drugs or alcohol) at a given location or by a particular group or person;
- Whether the Complainant is a minor;
- The level of fear for safety expressed by the Complainant;
- Whether the University possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence; or
- The level of threat posed by the Respondent to the Complainant or to the University community at large.
Both parties shall be notified of a decision to proceed with a formal complaint despite a request for dismissal and the specific grounds on which the decision to proceed is based.
- The Investigation Process. Prior to conducting the live hearing process, the Title IX Coordinator will oversee an investigation process.
- Burden of Proof. Throughout the grievance process, the burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination of responsibility shall rest on the University and not on the parties.
- Investigator. The Title IX Coordinator shall assign at least one neutral investigator to the investigation.
- Each party shall have equal opportunity to present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence.
- Each party may be accompanied to any meeting or proceeding by an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney. During the investigation process, the advisor may inspect and review evidence, but is to be a silent advisor and may not speak, present information for consideration, or otherwise directly influence the process. Any attempt to do so can result in the Title IX Coordinator taking action against the advisor up to and including permanent removal from the process and alleging a separate failure to comply violation against the advisor’s party. The community member involved in the investigation, rather than his/her advisor, shall communicate directly with the university officials involved in the investigation process. The University cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an attorney as their advisor, the university in not obligated to provide an attorney to any other party.
- Following receipt of the Notice of Allegations, each party shall be provided with written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of all hearings, investigative interviews, or other meetings (not requested by the party), at least five (5) days prior.
- The investigators may meet with the parties and witnesses as many times as necessary to perform a complete investigation. Interviews will be recorded.
- Each party shall have an equal opportunity to inspect and review any evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint, so that each party can meaningfully respond to the evidence prior to the conclusion of the investigation. Prior to the completion of the investigative report, the parties and their advisors, if any, will receive the evidence subject to inspection and review in an electronic format or hard copy. The parties will have ten (10) days to submit a written response, which the investigator will consider prior to completion of the investigative report.
- The investigator(s) shall create an investigative report fairly summarizing the relevant evidence. At least ten (10) days prior to a hearing, the parties and their advisors, if any, shall receive the investigative report in an electronic format or a hard copy, for their review and written response.
- The Live Hearing Process.
- The live hearing process shall be used to resolve formal complaints at the University level that are not resolved via the informal resolution process.
- Standard of Proof. All hearings held pursuant to this policy shall utilize the preponderance of evidence standard when determining responsibility for violations or deciding whether allegations are substantiated.
- Live hearings shall be held before up to three (3) hearing officers, one of whom may be designated the Chief Hearing Officer. In cases where there is more than one hearing officer, decisions with regard to responsibility and any sanction(s) must be unanimous.
- Virtual Participation. At the discretion of the hearing officer(s), or upon request of either party, virtual participation via videoconference or other technology of parties, witnesses, advisors, or others is permitted, provided participants can simultaneously see and hear each other and confidentiality of the proceedings is not compromised.
- Questioning of the Parties and Witnesses.
- Relevance. Only relevant questions may be asked of a party or witness. Relevancy determinations shall be made by the hearing officer, prior to the question being answered. The hearing officer shall give a reason for the decision as to relevance at the time the decision is made.
- The hearing officer must provide an explanation to exclude a question as not relevant.
- Questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant and shall be excluded, unless such questions are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent. A party’s medical records are not admissible without the voluntary written consent of the party. Evidence protected by a legally-recognized privilege is not admissible unless the holder of the privilege has voluntarily waived the privilege in writing.
- Testimony of the Complainant and Respondent. Each party is entitled to present their own testimony.
- Examination of Witnesses. The party’s advisor of choice shall conduct examination of the other party and any witnesses. The parties are not permitted to examine each other. The hearing officer(s) are permitted to ask questions of any party/witness.
- University-Provided Advisors. If a party does not have an advisor present at the live hearing, the University will provide, upon request and without fee or charge, an advisor of the University’s choice, to conduct examination on behalf of that party.
- Additional Examination. The parties shall be allowed reasonable opportunity to follow up on examination of parties and witnesses via additional examination, to be conducted in the same manner as the initial examination. A party’s advisor may conduct additional examination of the party the advisor is serving.
- Relevance. Only relevant questions may be asked of a party or witness. Relevancy determinations shall be made by the hearing officer, prior to the question being answered. The hearing officer shall give a reason for the decision as to relevance at the time the decision is made.
- Determination of Responsibility or Substantiation of Allegations. The determination of responsibility or whether allegations are substantiated shall be in writing, provided by the hearing officer(s) simultaneously to the parties, and include the following elements:
- A summary of the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment.
- A description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including notifications to parties, interviews, gathering of evidence, and hearings held.
- Findings of fact.
- Conclusions regarding the application of the relevant policy or regulation to the facts.
- As to each allegation, a statement of, and rationale for, the determination of responsibility or substantiation.
- A description of any disciplinary sanctions imposed upon the Respondent.
- A description of any remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access that will be provided to the Complainant.
- A statement of procedures and bases for appeal of the decision.
- The University shall create and maintain an audio or audiovisual recording of the hearing, which shall constitute the official record of the proceedings. The parties shall be permitted to inspect and review the recording, subject to reasonable conditions to ensure confidentiality. For each investigation, the following records will be maintained by the university for seven (7) years: determination regarding responsibility; audio/audiovisual recording or transcript thereof; disciplinary sanctions imposed on the Respondent; remedies provided to the Complainant; any appeal and the result therefrom; any informal resolution and the result therefrom.