/ Equal Opportunity and Compliance

Policy and Processes

INTERIM POLICY AND PROCEDURES
Approved/In Effect Beginning August 14, 2020

Table of Contents

POLICY: Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination

  1. Policy on Nondiscrimination
  2. Glossary
  3. Rationale for Policy
  4. Applicable Scope
  5. Equal Opportunity and Compliance Coordinator
  6. Independence and Conflict-of-Interest
  7. Administrative Contact Information
  8. Notice/Complaints of Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation
  9. Supportive Measures
  10. Emergency Removal
  11. Promptness
  12. Privacy
  13. Jurisdiction of Hope College
  14. Time Limits on Reporting
  15. Online Harassment and Misconduct
  16. Policy on Discriminatory Harassment
  17. Retaliation
  18. Mandated Reporting
  19. Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations
  20. Federal Timely Warning Obligations
  21. When a Complainant Does Not Wish to Proceed
  22. False Allegations and Evidence
  23. Amnesty for Complainants and Witnesses
  24. Disabilities Accommodation in the Resolution Process
  25. Revision

APPENDIX A: PROCESS A

  1. Initial Assessment
  2. Grievance Process Pool
  3. Counterclaims
  4. Advisors
  5. Resolution Options
  6. Investigation
  7. Determination  
  8. Additional Details of the Investigation Process
  9. Sanctions
  10. Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges are Pending
  11. Appeals
  12. Long-Term Remedies/Actions
  13. Failure to Complete Sanctions/Comply with Remedies/Responsive Actions
  14. Recordkeeping
  15. Statement of the Rights of the Parties


APPENDIX B: PROCESS B - Grievance Process for Alleged Title IX Sexual Harassment Violations

  1. Overview
  2. Notice/Complaint
  3. Initial Assessment
  4. Counterclaims
  5. Right to an Advisor
  6. Resolution Processes
  7. Grievance Process Pool
  8. Formal Grievance Process: Notice of Investigation and Allegation
  9. Resolution Timeline
  10. Appointment of Investigator(s)
  11. Ensuring Impartiality
  12. Investigation Timeline
  13. Delays in the Investigation Process and Interactions with Law Enforcement
  14. Steps in the Investigation Process
  15. Role and Participation of Witnesses in the Investigation
  16. Recording of Interviews
  17. Evidentiary Considerations in the Investigation
  18. Referral for Hearing
  19. Hearing Decision-maker Composition
  20. Evidentiary Considerations in the Hearing
  21. Notice of Hearing
  22. Alternative Hearing Participation Options
  23. Pre-Hearing Preparation
  24. Pre-Hearing Meetings
  25. Hearing Procedures
  26. Joint Hearings
  27. The Order of the Hearing- Introduction and Explanation of Procedure
  28. Investigator Presents the Final Investigation Report
  29. Testimony and Questioning
  30. Refusal to Submit to Cross-Examination and Inferences
  31. Recording Hearings
  32. Deliberation, Decision-making, and Standard of Proof
  33. Notice of Outcome
  34. Statement of the Rights of the Parties
  35. Sanctions
  36. Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges Pending
  37. Appeals
  38. Long-Term Remedies/Other Actions
  39. Failure to Comply with Sanctions and/or Interim and Long-term Remedies and/or Responsive Actions
  40. Recordkeeping

APPENDIX C: Statement of Rights of the Parties


POLICY: Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination

1. Policy on Nondiscrimination 

Hope College adheres to all federal and state civil rights laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination in private institutions of higher education.

Hope College seeks to be a community that affirms the dignity of all persons as bearers of God’s image. It is Hope College policy not to discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, family status, genetic information, height, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, or weight, except in the event of a bona fide occupational qualification.

This policy covers nondiscrimination in both employment and access to educational opportunities.

Therefore, any member of the Hope College community whose acts deny, deprive, or limit the educational or employment or residential and/or social access, benefits, and/or opportunities of any member of the Hope College community, guest, or visitor on the basis of that person’s actual or perceived membership in the protected classes listed above is in violation of the Hope College policy on nondiscrimination. Hope College also provides accommodations to individuals with disabilities.

When brought to the attention of Hope College, any such discrimination will be promptly and fairly addressed and remedied by Hope College according to the appropriate grievance process described below.

2. Glossary

  • Advisor means a person chosen by a party or appointed by the institution to accompany the party to meetings related to the resolution process, to advise the party on that process, and to conduct cross-examination for the party at the hearing, if any.
  • Complainant means an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute harassment or discrimination based on a protected class; or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.
  • Complaint means a document filed/signed by a Complainant or signed by the EOC Coordinator alleging harassment or discrimination based on a protected class or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity against a Respondent and requesting that the Hope College investigate the allegation. The term “complaint” includes, but is not limited to, “Formal Complaints” as defined by the 2020 Title IX regulations.
  • Confidential Resource means an employee who is not a Mandated Reporter of notice of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation (irrespective of Clery Act Campus Security Authority status).
  • Day means a business day when the Hope College is in normal operation.
  • Decision-maker refers to those officials who have decision-making and sanctioning authority within Hope College’s Formal Grievance process.
  • Education program or activity means locations, events, or circumstances where Hope College exercises substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment or discrimination occurs and also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the Hope College. 
  • Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (“EOC”) is the office charged with oversight of equal opportunity, harassment, nondiscrimination and disability compliance and prevention efforts.
  • Equal Opportunity and Compliance Coordinator (“EOC Coordinator”) is at least one official designated by Hope College to ensure compliance with the applicable state and federal non-discrimination laws. The EOC Coordinator serves as the Title IX Coordinator and ADA/504 Coordinator and oversees implementation of Hope College’s policy on equal opportunity, harassment, and nondiscrimination and disability compliance. References to “Coordinator,” throughout this policy may also encompass a designee of the Coordinator for specific tasks.
  • Final Determination: A conclusion by the preponderance of the evidence that the alleged conduct occurred and whether it did or did not violate policy.
  • Finding: A conclusion by the preponderance of the evidence that the conduct did or did not occur as alleged.
  • Grievance Procedures a method of formal or informal resolution designated by Hope College to address conduct that falls within the Policy. The Grievance Procedures include two processes: Process A and Process B. Process A will be used to address all misconduct that falls within the Policy other than that addressed by Process B. Process B, will be used address conduct that falls within the definition of “Title IX Sexual Harassment” included below in Section 15.c., and which complies with the requirements of the 2020 Title IX regulations, at 34 CFR Parts 106.30, 106.44, and 106.45.
  • Grievance Process Pool includes any investigators, hearing officers, appeal officers, and Advisors who may perform any or all of these roles (though not at the same time or with respect to the same case).
  • Hearing Decision-maker refers to officials who participate in a hearing and have decision-making and sanctioning authority within Hope College’s grievance procedures.
  • Investigator means the person or persons charged by Hope College with gathering facts about an alleged violation of this Policy, assessing relevance and credibility, synthesizing the evidence, and compiling this information into an investigation report and file of directly related evidence.
  • Mandated Reporter means an employee of the Hope College who is obligated by policy to share knowledge, notice, and/or reports of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation with the EOC Coordinator. [1]
  • Notice means that an employee, student, or third-party informs the EOC Coordinator or other Official with Authority of the alleged occurrence of harassing, discriminatory, and/or retaliatory conduct.
  • Official with Authority (OWA) means an employee of Hope College explicitly vested with the responsibility to implement corrective measures for harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation on behalf of the Hope College. This term includes the Title IX Coordinator, senior University officials, and all employees in supervisory positions.
  • Party or parties refers to the Complainant(s), the Respondent(s), or the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s) collectively. Nothing in this Policy may be read in derogation of any legal right of a parent or guardian to act on behalf of their child.
  • Process A means the grievance procedure detailed below in Appendix A.
  • Process B means the grievance procedure detailed below in Appendix B. 
  • Remedies are post-finding actions directed to the Complainant and/or the community as mechanisms to address safety, prevent recurrence, and restore access to the Hope College’s educational program.
  • Respondent means an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute harassment or discrimination based on a protected class; or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.
  • Resolution means the result of an informal or formal resolution under Process A or Process B.
  • Sanction means a consequence imposed by the Hope College on a Respondent who is found to have violated this policy.

3. Rationale for Policy

Hope College is committed to providing a workplace and educational environment, as well as other benefits, programs, and activities, that are free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. To ensure compliance with federal and state civil rights laws and regulations, and to affirm its commitment to promoting the goals of fairness and equity in all aspects of the educational program or activity, Hope College has developed internal policies and procedures that provide a prompt, fair, and impartial process for those involved in an allegation of discrimination or harassment on the basis of protected class status, and for allegations of retaliation. Hope College values and upholds the equal dignity of all members of its community and strives to balance the rights of the parties in a grievance process during what is often a difficult time for all those involved.

4. Applicable Scope

The core purpose of this policy is the prohibition of all forms of discrimination. Sometimes, discrimination involves exclusion from activities, such as admission, athletics, or employment. Other times, discrimination takes the form of harassment or, in the case of sex-based discrimination, can encompass sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, sexual exploitation, dating violence or domestic violence. When an alleged violation of this anti-discrimination policy is reported, the allegations are subject to resolution using Hope College’s “Process A” or “Process B,” as determined by the EOC Coordinator, and as detailed below.

When the Respondent is a member of the Hope College community, a grievance process may be available regardless of the status of the Complainant, who may or may not be a member of the Hope College community. This community includes, but is not limited to, students, [2] student organizations, faculty, administrators, staff, and third parties such as guests, visitors, volunteers, invitees, and campers. The procedures below may be applied to incidents, to patterns, and/or to the campus climate, all of which may be addressed and investigated in accordance with this policy.

5. Equal Opportunity and Compliance (EOC) Coordinator

The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Coordinator serves as the Title IX Coordinator, Age Discrimination Act Coordinator, and ADA/Section 504 Coordinator and oversees implementation of Hope College’s policy on equal opportunity, harassment, and nondiscrimination and disability compliance. The EOC Coordinator has the primary responsibility for coordinating Hope College’s efforts related to the intake, investigation, resolution, and implementation of supportive measures to stop, remediate, and prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation prohibited under this policy.

6. Independence and Conflict-of-Interest

The EOC Coordinator manages the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (“EOC”) and acts with independence and authority free from bias and conflicts of interest. The EOC Coordinator oversees all resolutions under this policy and these procedures. All College officials involved in the resolution and adjudication of allegations under this policy are vetted and trained to ensure they are not biased for or against any party in a specific case, or for or against Complainants and/or Respondents, generally. These officials include the EOC Coordinator, any deputy coordinators, and any member of the Grievance Process Pool.

To raise any concern involving bias or conflict of interest by the EOC Coordinator, contact the Hope College President (DeWitt Center- 2nd floor, 616-395-7780 or president@hope.edu) or designee. Concerns of bias or a potential conflict of interest by any other College official involved in the resolution and adjudication process EOC member should be raised with the Coordinator.

Reports of misconduct or discrimination committed by the EOC Coordinator should be reported to the Hope College President (DeWitt Center- 2nd floor, 616-395-7780 or president@hope.edu) or designee. Reports of misconduct or discrimination committed by any other College official involved in the resolution and adjudication process should be reported to the EOC Coordinator.

7. Administrative Contact Information

Complaints or notice of alleged policy violations, or inquiries about or concerns regarding this policy and procedures, may be made internally to:

Name: Sara Dorer
EOC Coordinator, Title IX Coordinator, ADA/Section 504 Coordinator
Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance
Location/Address: DeWitt Center, Room 220
(616) 395-6816
Email: dorer@hope.edu
Web: hope.edu/titleix

Name: Jill Whitcomb
Equal Opportunity Investigator
Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance
Location/Address: DeWitt Center, Room 221
(616) 395-6749
Email: whitcomb@hope.edu

Hope College has also classified most employees as Mandated Reporters of any knowledge they have that a member of the community is experiencing harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation. The section below on Mandated Reporting details which employees have this responsibility and their duties, accordingly.

Inquiries may be made externally to:

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-1100
Customer Service Hotline #: (800) 421-3481
TDD#: (877) 521-2172
Email: OCR@ed.gov
Web: ed.gov/ocr

The local Office of Civil Rights can be contacted at:

Office for Civil Rights (Cleveland Office), U.S. Department of Education
1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 325
Cleveland, OH 44115-1812
216-522-4970

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [3]
Contact: http://www.eeoc.gov/contact/
The local EEOC office can be contacted at:
EEOC – Detroit Field Office
Patrick V. McNamara Building
477 Michigan Avenue, Room 865
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
Fax: 313-226-4610
TTY: 1-800-669-6820
ASL Video Phone: 844-234-5122
Web: https://www.eeoc.gov/field-office/detroit/location

8. Notice/Complaints of Discrimination, Harassment, and/or Retaliation

Notice or complaints of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation may be made using any of the following options:

  1. File a complaint with, or give verbal notice to, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office. Such a report may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by using the telephone number or email address, or by mail to the office address, listed for the EOC Coordinator or Equal Opportunity Investigator. (Contact information listed above in Section 6.)

  2. Report online, using the reporting form posted at hope.edu/reportdiscrimination. Anonymous reports are accepted and can give rise to a need to investigate. Hope College tries to provide supportive measures to all Complainants, which is impossible with an anonymous report. Because reporting carries no obligation to initiate a formal response, and as the Hope College respects Complainant requests to dismiss complaints unless there is a compelling threat to health and/or safety, the Complainant is largely in control and should not fear a loss of privacy by making a report that allows the Hope College to discuss and/or provide supportive measures.

  3. Report by calling Campus Safety at (616) 395-7770. 

A complaint means a document filed/signed by the Complainant or signed by the EOC Coordinator alleging a policy violation by a Respondent and requesting that Hope College investigate the allegation(s). A complaint may be filed with the EOC Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail, by using the contact information in the section immediately above, or as described in this section. As used in this paragraph, the phrase “document filed by a Complainant” means a document or electronic submission (such as by electronic mail or through the online portal provided for this purpose by Hope College) that contains the Complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing the complaint.

If notice is submitted in a form that does not meet this standard, the EOC Coordinator will contact the Complainant to understand what the individual wants to do and to ensure that that the complainant is filed correctly.

9. Supportive Measures 

Hope College will offer and implement appropriate and reasonable supportive measures to the parties upon notice of alleged harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation. 
Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the parties to restore or preserve access to Hope College’s education program or activity, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the college’s educational environment, and/or deter harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation.
The EOC Coordinator promptly makes supportive measures available to the parties upon receiving notice or a complaint. At the time that supportive measures are offered, Hope College will inform the Complainant, in writing, that they may file a complaint with Hope College either at that time or in the future, if they have not done so already. The EOC Coordinator works with the Complainant to ensure that their wishes are taken into account with respect to the supportive measures that are planned and implemented.

Hope College will maintain the privacy of the supportive measures, provided that privacy does not impair Hope College’s ability to provide the supportive measures. Hope College will act to ensure as minimal an academic impact on the parties as possible. The College will implement measures in a way that does not unreasonably burden the other party.
These actions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Referral to counseling, medical, and/or other healthcare services
  • Referral to the Employee Assistance Program
  • Referral to community-based service providers
  • Visa and immigration assistance
  • Student financial aid counseling
  • Education to the community or community subgroup(s)
  • Altering campus housing assignment(s)
  • Altering work arrangements for employees or student-employees
  • Safety planning
  • Providing campus safety escorts
  • Providing transportation accommodations 
  • Implementing contact limitations (no contact orders) between the parties
  • Academic support, extensions of deadlines, or other course/program-related 
    adjustments
  • Trespass, Persona Non Grata (PNG), or Be-On-the-Lookout (BOLO) orders
  • Timely warnings
  • Class schedule modifications, withdrawals, or leaves of absence
  • Increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus 
  • Any other actions deemed appropriate by the EOC Coordinator

Violations of no contact orders will be referred to appropriate student or employee conduct processes for enforcement.

10. Emergency Removal 

Hope College can act to remove a Respondent entirely or partially from its education program or activities on an emergency basis when an individualized safety and risk analysis has determined that an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual justifies removal. This risk analysis is performed by the EOC Coordinator in conjunction with the Coordinated Assistance Resource and Education (CARE) team using its standard objective violence risk assessment procedures.

In all cases in which an emergency removal is imposed, the student, employee, or two (2) representatives from a student organization will be given notice of the action and the option to request to meet with the EOC Coordinator prior to such action/removal being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the action/removal should not be implemented or should be modified.

This meeting is not a hearing on the merits of the allegation(s), but rather is an administrative process intended to determine solely whether the emergency removal is appropriate. When this meeting is not requested in a timely manner, objections to the emergency removal will be deemed waived. A Complainant and their Advisor may be permitted to participate in this meeting if the EOC Coordinator determines it is equitable to do so. This section also applies to any restrictions that a coach or athletic administrator may place on a student-athlete arising from allegations related to Title IX. There is no appeal process for emergency removal decisions.

A Respondent may be accompanied by an Advisor of their choice when meeting with the EOC Coordinator for the show cause meeting. The Respondent will be given access to a written summary of the basis for the emergency removal prior to the meeting to allow for adequate preparation.

The EOC Coordinator has sole discretion under this policy to implement or revoke an emergency removal and to determine the conditions and duration. Violation of an emergency removal under this policy will be grounds for discipline, which may include expulsion or termination.

Hope College will implement the least restrictive emergency actions possible in light of the circumstances and safety concerns. As determined by the EOC Coordinator, these actions could include, but are not limited to: removing a student from a residence hall, temporarily re-assigning an employee, restricting a student’s or employee’s access to or use of facilities or equipment, allowing a student to withdraw or take grades of incomplete without financial penalty, authorizing an administrative leave, and suspending a student’s participation in extracurricular activities, student employment, student organizational leadership, or intercollegiate/intramural athletics.

At the discretion of the EOC Coordinator, alternative coursework options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an academic impact as possible on the parties.

11. Promptness

All allegations are acted upon promptly by Hope College once it has received notice or a formal complaint. Complaints can take 90 - 120 business days to resolve, typically. There are always exceptions and extenuating circumstances that can cause a resolution to take longer, but Hope College will avoid all undue delays within its control.

Any time the general timeframes for resolution outlined in Hope College procedures will be delayed, the College will provide written notice to the parties of the delay, the cause of the delay, and an estimate of the anticipated additional time that will be needed as a result of the delay.

12. Privacy

Every effort is made by Hope College to preserve the privacy of reports. [4] Hope College will not share the identity of any individual who has made a report or complaint of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation; any Complainant, any individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of sex discrimination, any Respondent, or any witness, except as permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232g; FERPA regulations, 34 CFR part 99; or as required by law; or to carry out the purposes of 34 CFR Part 106, including the conducting of any investigation, hearing, or grievance proceeding arising under these policies and procedures.

Hope College reserves the right to designate which Hope College officials have a legitimate educational interest in being informed about incidents that fall within this policy, pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Only a small group of officials, if they are deemed to have a need to know, will be told about the complaint, which could include, but is not limited to: Hope College Police and the Threat Assessment Team. Information will be shared as necessary with Investigators, Hearing Panel members/Decision-makers, witnesses, and the parties. The circle of people with this knowledge will be kept as tight as possible to preserve the parties’ rights and privacy.

Hope College may contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant and articulable health and/or safety risk, but will usually consult with the student first before doing so.

Employees: Several grant issuing organizations require the college to disclose any open investigations or disciplinary findings related to Title IX and/or other forms of discrimination during the grant application process. Consult Office of Sponsored Research and Programs regarding any grant terms for specific disclosures required.
Confidentiality and mandated reporting are addressed more specifically below.

13. Jurisdiction of Hope College

This policy applies to the education program and activities of Hope College, to conduct that takes place on the campus or on property owned or controlled by Hope College, at Hope College-sponsored events, or in buildings owned or controlled by Hope College’s recognized student organizations. The Respondent must be a member of Hope College’s community in order for its policies to apply.

This policy can also be applicable to the effects of off-campus misconduct that effectively deprive someone of access to Hope College’s educational program. Hope College may also extend jurisdiction to off-campus and/or to online conduct when the EOC Coordinator determines that the conduct affects a substantial Hope College interest.

Regardless of where the conduct occurred, Hope College will address notice/complaints to determine whether the conduct occurred in the context of its employment or educational program or activity and/or has continuing effects on campus or in an off-campus sponsored program or activity. A substantial Hope College interest includes:

  1. Any action that constitutes a criminal offense as defined by law. This includes, but is not limited to, single or repeat violations of any local, state, or federal law;

  2. Any situation in which it is determined that the Respondent poses an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual;

  3. Any situation that significantly impinges upon the rights, property, or achievements of oneself or others or significantly breaches the peace and/or causes social disorder; and/or

  4. Any situation that is detrimental to the educational interests or mission of Hope College.

If the Respondent is unknown or is not a member of the Hope College community, the EOC Coordinator will assist the Complainant in identifying appropriate campus and local resources and support options and/or, when criminal conduct is alleged, in contacting local or campus law enforcement if the individual would like to file a police report.

Further, even when the Respondent is not a member of Hope College’s community, supportive measures, remedies, and resources may be accessible to the Complainant by contacting the EOC Coordinator or Victim Advocate, Christian Gibson Townley (gibsonc@hope.edu or 616-395-7802).

In addition, Hope College may take other actions as appropriate to protect the Complainant against third parties, such as barring individuals from Hope College property and/or events.

All vendors serving the Hope College through third-party contracts are subject to the policies and procedures of their employers.

When the Respondent is enrolled in or employed by another institution, the EOC Coordinator can assist the Complainant in liaising with the appropriate individual at that institution, as it may be possible to allege violations through that institution’s policies.

Similarly, the EOC Coordinator may be able to advocate for a student or employee Complainant who experiences discrimination in an externship, study abroad program, or other environment external to Hope College where sexual harassment or nondiscrimination policies and procedures of the facilitating or host organization may give recourse to the Complainant.

14. Time Limits on Reporting

There is no time limitation on providing notice/complaints to the EOC Coordinator. However, if the Respondent is no longer subject to Hope College’s jurisdiction and/or significant time has passed, the ability to investigate, respond, and provide remedies may be more limited or impossible.

Acting on notice/complaints significantly impacted by the passage of time (including, but not limited to, the rescission or revision of policy) is at the discretion of the EOC Coordinator, who may document allegations for future reference, offer supportive measures and/or remedies, and/or engage in informal or formal action, as appropriate.

When notice/complaint is affected by significant time delay, Hope College will typically apply the policy in place at the time of the alleged misconduct and the procedures in place at the time of notice/complaint.

15. Online Harassment and Misconduct

The policies of Hope College are written and interpreted broadly to include online and cyber manifestations of any of the behaviors prohibited below, when those behaviors occur in or have an effect on the Hope College’s education program and activities or use Hope College networks, technology, or equipment.

While Hope College may not control websites, social media, and other venues in which harassing communications are made, when such communications are reported to Hope College, it will engage in a variety of means to address and mitigate the effects.

Members of the community are encouraged to be good digital citizens and to refrain from online misconduct, such as feeding anonymous gossip sites, sharing inappropriate content via Snaps or other social media, unwelcome sexting, revenge porn, breaches of privacy, or otherwise using the ease of transmission and/or anonymity of the Internet or other technology to harm another member of the Hope College community.

16. Policy on Discriminatory Harassment

Students, staff, administrators, and faculty are entitled to an employment and educational environment that is free of discriminatory harassment. This policy addresses the unique environment of an academic community, which consists not only of employer and employees, but of students as well. This policy is not meant to inhibit or prohibit educational content or discussions inside or outside of the classroom that include germane but controversial or sensitive subject matters protected by academic freedom.

The sections below describe the specific forms of legally prohibited discrimination and harassment that are also prohibited under Hope College policy. Discrimination and harassment are prohibited under this policy on the basis of age, color, disability, family status, genetic information, height, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, or weight, except in the event of a bona fide occupational qualification. When speech or conduct is protected by academic freedom, it will not be considered a violation of Hope College policy, though supportive measures will be offered to those impacted.

Acts of discrimination or harassment may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity of those involved.

a. Discrimination

Discrimination includes actions that deprive or limit access to education, employment, benefits, or other opportunities and/or treat an individual differently on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a class protected by policy or law (as listed in the categories noted in this policy).

b. Harassment

Harassment based on any of the specific protected categories in this policy constitutes a form of discrimination that is prohibited by Hope College policy. Harassment under this section of the policy includes all forms of sexual, racial and other harassment, except for Title IX Sexual Harassment as defined below in Section 16.c. The term, Title IX Sexual Harassment, applies only to sexual harassment as defined in Section 16.c. that occurs in an education program or activity and against a person in the United States.

Harassment includes the offenses of sexual harassment (except for sexual harassment as defined by Section 16.c.), racial harassment, or any other form of harassment on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a class protected by policy or law (as listed in the categories noted in this policy), and is defined as:

Conduct based on a specific protected category that satisfies one or more of the following:

  1. Quid Pro Quo:
    1. an employee of Hope College,
    2. conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of Hope College,
    3. on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct and/or

  2. Hostile Environment
    1. unwelcome conduct,
    2. taken against a person on the basis of a protected category, and 
    3. determined to be so severe, or
    4. pervasive, or
    5. persistent,
    6. that it effectively interferes with or denies an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from Hope College’s education program or activity, [5] and/or

  3. Sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, as defined in Section 16.c.

Harassment may be in the form of verbal, written, graphic, or physical conduct.

Hope College does not tolerate harassment of any employee, student, visitor, or guest. Hope College will act to remedy all forms of harassment when reported, whether or not the harassment rises to the level of creating a “hostile environment.” When harassment rises to the level of creating a hostile environment, Hope College may also impose sanctions on the Respondent through application of the appropriate grievance process below.

Hope College reserves the right to address offensive conduct and/or harassment that 1) does not rise to the level of creating a hostile environment, or 2) that is of a generic nature and not based on a protected status. Addressing such conduct will not result in the imposition of discipline under Hope College policy, but may be addressed through respectful conversation, remedial actions, education, formal resolution, and/or informal resolution mechanisms. 
For assistance with Informal Resolution, employees should contact the Director of Human Resources, and students should contact the Director of Student Conduct.

c. Title IX Sexual Harassment

Hope College has adopted the following definition of “Title IX Sexual Harassment” in order to comply with the requirements mandated by the 2020 Title IX Regulations, 34 CFR 106.30. Sexual harassment that that does not meet the definition set forth in this section may be addressed under Section 15.b., Harassment.

Sexual Harassment, as an umbrella category, includes the offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, and is defined as:

Conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

  1. Quid Pro Quo:
    1. an employee of Hope College,
    2. conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of Hope College,
    3. on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; and/or

  2. Sexual Harassment:
    1. unwelcome conduct,
    2. determined by a reasonable person,
    3. to be so severe, and
    4. pervasive, and,
    5. objectively offensive,
    6. that it effectively denies a person equal access to Hope College’s education program or activity. [6]
  3. Sexual assault, defined as:
    1. Sex Offenses, Forcible:
      1. Any sexual act directed against another person,
      2. without the consent of the Complainant,
      3. including instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent.
    2. Rape:
      1. Penetration,
      2. forcibly,
      3. no matter how slight,
      4. of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or
      5. oral penetration by a sex organ of another person,
      6. without the consent of the Complainant.
    3. Sodomy:
      1. Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person,
      2. forcibly,
      3. and/or without the consent of the Complainant, or
      4. not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age [7] or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
    4. Sexual Assault with an Object:
      1. The use of an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate,
      2. however slightly,
      3. the genital or anal opening of the body of another person,
      4. forcibly,
      5. and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually),
      6. or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
    5. Fondling:
      1. The touching of the private body parts of another person (including genitalia, buttocks, groin, breasts),
      2. for the purpose of sexual gratification,
      3. forcibly,
      4. and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually),
      5. or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
    6. Other Sex Offenses:
      1. Incest:
        1. Non-forcible sexual intercourse,
        2. between persons who are related to each other,
        3. within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by MI law.
      2. Statutory Rape:
        1. Non-forcible sexual intercourse,
        2. with a person who is under the statutory age of consent of 16.
  4. Dating Violence, defined as:
    1. violence,
    2. on the basis of sex,
    3. committed by a person,
    4. who is in or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant.
      1. 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—
      2. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
      3. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
  5. Domestic Violence, defined as:
    1. violence,
    2. on the basis of sex,
    3. committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant,
    4. by a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common, or
    5. by a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner, or
    6. by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of Michigan, or
    7. 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 Michigan.

      *To categorize an incident as Domestic Violence, the relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant must be more than just two people living together as roommates. The people cohabitating must be current or former spouses or have an intimate relationship.
  6. Stalking, defined as:
    1. engaging in a course of conduct,
    2. on the basis of sex,
    3. directed at a specific person, that
      1. would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety, or
      2. the safety of others; or
      3. Suffer substantial emotional distress.

        For the purposes of this definition—
        (i) Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the Respondent 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.
        (ii) Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.
        (iii)Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

d. Expectations regarding Unethical Relationships [8]

There are inherent risks in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals in unequal positions (such as faculty member and student or supervisor and employee). These relationships may, in reality, be less consensual than perceived by the individual whose position confers power or authority. Similarly, the relationship also may be viewed in different ways by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Circumstances may change, and conduct that was once welcome may, at some point in the relationship, become unwelcome.

Even when both parties have initially consented to romantic or sexual involvement, the possibility of a later allegation of a relevant Policy violation still exists. Hope College does not wish to interfere with private choices regarding personal relationships when these relationships do not interfere with the goals and policies of Hope College. However, for the personal protection of members of this community, relationships in which power differentials are inherent (e.g., faculty-student, staff-student) are generally discouraged. They may also violate standards of professionalism and/or professional ethics.

Consensual romantic or sexual relationships in which one party maintains a direct supervisory or otherwise evaluative role over the other party are inherently problematic. Therefore, persons with direct supervisory or otherwise evaluative responsibilities who are involved in such relationships must bring these relationships to the timely attention of their supervisor, Human Resources and/or the EOC Coordinator. The existence of this type of relationship will likely result in removing the supervisory or evaluative responsibilities from the employee or shifting a party from being supervised or evaluated by someone with whom they have established a consensual relationship. When an affected relationship existed prior to adoption of this policy, the duty to notify the appropriate supervisor still pertains.

This type of relationship includes Resident Advisors (RAs) and students over whom the RA has direct responsibility. While no relationships are prohibited by this policy, failure to timely self-report such relationships to a supervisor as required can result in disciplinary action for an employee. The EOC Coordinator will determine whether to refer violations of this provision to Human Resources for resolution, or to pursue resolution under this Policy, based on the circumstances of the allegation.

Hope College reserves the right to impose any level of sanction, ranging from a reprimand up to and including suspension or expulsion/termination, for any offense under this policy.

e. Force, Coercion, Consent, and Incapacitation [9]

As used in the offenses above, the following definitions and understandings apply:

Force: Force is the use of physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that is intended to overcome resistance or produce consent (e.g., “Have sex with me or I’ll hit you,” “Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.”).

Sexual activity that is forced is, by definition, non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not necessarily forced. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. Consent is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. While resistance is not required or necessary, it is a clear demonstration of non-consent.

Coercion: Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive conduct differs from seductive conduct based on factors such as the type and/or extent of the pressure used to obtain consent. When someone makes clear that they do not want to engage in certain sexual activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.

Consent is:

  • knowing, and
  • voluntary, and
  • clear permission
  • by word or action
  • to engage in sexual activity. 

Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to determine that the other has consented before engaging in the activity.

If consent is not clearly provided prior to engaging in the activity, consent may be ratified by word or action at some point during the interaction or thereafter, but clear communication from the outset is strongly encouraged.

For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct. Reasonable reciprocation can be implied. For example, if someone kisses you, you can kiss them back (if you want to) without the need to explicitly obtain their consent to being kissed back.

Consent can also be withdrawn once given, as long as the withdrawal is reasonably and clearly communicated. If consent is withdrawn, that sexual activity should cease within a reasonable time.

Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). A current or previous intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.

Proof of consent or non-consent is not a burden placed on either party involved in an incident. Instead, the burden remains on Hope College to determine whether its policy has been violated. The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced.

Consent in relationships must also be considered in context. When parties consent to BDSM [10] or other forms of kink, non-consent may be shown by the use of a safe word. Resistance, force, violence, or even saying “no” may be part of the kink and thus consensual, so Hope College’s evaluation of communication in kink situations should be guided by reasonableness, rather than strict adherence to policy that assumes non-kink relationships as a default.

Incapacitation: A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious, for any reason, including by alcohol or other drugs. As stated above, a Respondent violates this policy if they engage in sexual activity with someone who is incapable of giving consent.

It is a defense to a sexual assault policy violation that the Respondent neither knew nor should have known the Complainant to be physically or mentally incapacitated. “Should have known” is an objective, reasonable person standard which assumes that a reasonable person has the capacity to and is exercising sound judgment.

Incapacitation occurs when someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing/informed consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of their sexual interaction).

Incapacitation is determined through consideration of all relevant indicators of an individual’s state and is not synonymous with intoxication, impairment, blackout, and/or being drunk.

This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition, involuntary physical restraint, and/or the consumption of incapacitating drugs.

f. Other Discrimination and Harassment Prohibited by This Policy

Hope College additionally prohibits the following offenses as forms of discrimination when the act is based upon the Complainant’s actual or perceived membership in a protected class.

  • Sexual Exploitation, defined as: taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of 
    another for their own benefit or for the benefit of anyone other than the person being exploited, and that conduct does not otherwise constitute sexual harassment under this policy. Examples of Sexual Exploitation include, but are not limited to:
    • Sexual voyeurism (such as observing or allowing others to observe a person undressing or using the bathroom or engaging in sexual acts, without the consent of the person being observed)
    • Invasion of sexual privacy.
    • Taking pictures, video, or audio recording of another in a sexual act, or in any other sexually-related activity when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy during the activity, without the consent of all involved in the activity, or exceeding the boundaries of consent (such as allowing another person to hide in a closet and observe sexual activity, or disseminating sexual pictures without the photographed person’s consent), including the making or posting of revenge pornography
    • Prostituting another person
    • Engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) or infection (STI), without informing the other person of the infection
    • Causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person (through alcohol, drugs, or any other means) for the purpose of compromising that person’s ability to give consent to sexual activity, or for the purpose of making that person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity
    • Misappropriation of another person’s identity on apps, websites, or other venues designed for dating or sexual connections
    • Forcing a person to take an action against that person’s will by threatening to show, post, or share information, video, audio, or an image that depicts the person’s nudity or sexual activity
    • Knowingly soliciting a minor for sexual activity
    • Engaging in sex trafficking
    • Creation, possession, or dissemination or child pornography

  • Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse, or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person;

  • Intimidation, defined as implied threats or acts that cause an unreasonable fear of harm in another;

  • Hazing, defined as acts likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within the Hope College community, when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining, or any other group-affiliation activity;

  • Bullying, defined as:
    • Repeated and/or severe
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control, or diminish another person, physically and/or mentally

Violation of any other Hope College policies may constitute a Civil Rights Offense when a violation is motivated by actual or perceived membership in a protected class, and the result is a discriminatory limitation or denial of employment or educational access, benefits, or opportunities.

Sanctions for the above-listed Civil Rights Offenses range from reprimand through expulsion/termination.

17. Retaliation

Protected activity under this policy includes reporting an incident that may implicate this policy, participating in a grievance process, supporting a Complainant or Respondent, assisting in providing information relevant to an investigation, and/or acting in good faith to oppose conduct that constitutes a violation of this Policy.

Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the EOC Coordinator and will be promptly investigated. Hope College is prepared to take appropriate steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.

It is prohibited for Hope College or any member of Hope College’s community to take materially adverse action by intimidating, threatening, coercing, harassing, or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by law or 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 and procedure.

Charges against an individual for code of conduct violations that do not involve discrimination or harassment but arise out of the same facts or circumstances as a report or complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, constitutes retaliation. Charging an individual with a code of conduct violation for making a materially false statement in bad faith in the course of a grievance proceeding under this policy and procedure does not constitute retaliation, provided that a determination regarding responsibility, alone, is not sufficient to conclude that any party has made a materially false statement in bad faith.

18. Mandated Reporting

All Hope College employees (faculty, staff, administrators) are expected to report actual or suspected discrimination or harassment to appropriate officials immediately, though there are some limited exceptions.

In order to make informed choices, it is important to be aware of confidentiality and mandatory reporting requirements when consulting campus resources. On campus, some resources may maintain confidentiality and are not required to report actual or suspected discrimination or harassment. They may offer options and resources without any obligation to inform an outside agency or campus official unless a Complainant has requested the information be shared.

If a Complainant expects formal action in response to their allegations, reporting to any Mandated Reporter can connect them with resources to report crimes and/or policy violations, and these employees will pass reports to the EOC Coordinator (and/or police, if desired by the Complainant) within 24 hours, who will take action when an incident is reported to them.

The following sections describe the reporting options at Hope College for a Complainant or third-party (parties):

a. Confidential Resources

If a Complainant would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, the Complainant may speak with:

  • On-campus Victim Advocate
  • On-campus licensed professional counselors and staff (CAPS)
  • On-campus Health Center providers and staff
  • On-campus Campus Ministries staff
  • Off-campus (non-employees):
    • Licensed professional counselors and other medical providers
    • Local rape crisis counselors (Resilience)
    • Domestic violence resources
    • Local or state assistance agencies
    • Clergy/Chaplains
    • Attorneys

All of the above-listed individuals will maintain confidentiality when acting under the scope of their licensure, professional ethics, and/or professional credentials, except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or abuse of a minor/elder/individual with a disability, or when required to disclose by law or court order.

Hope's Counseling and Psychological Services provides free counseling services for degree-seeking students who are enrolled full-time, including availability to manage crisis situations during regular business hours. For crises that arise outside regular business hours students can access telephonic behavioral health services by calling the CAPS phone number (616-395-7945), where they will be immediately connected with a mental health counselor.

The Employee Assistance Program is available to help free of charge and may be consulted during normal business hours.

b. Mandated Reporters and Formal Notice/Complaints

All employees of Hope College (including RAs), with the exception of those who are designated as Confidential Resources, are Mandated Reporters and must promptly share with the EOC Coordinator all known details of a report made to them in the course of their employment.

Employees must also promptly share all details of behaviors under this policy that they observe or have knowledge of, even if not reported to them by a Complainant or third-party.

Complainants may want to carefully consider whether they share personally identifiable details with non-confidential Mandated Reporters, as those details must be shared with the EOC Coordinator.

Generally, disclosures in climate surveys, classroom writing assignments or discussions, human subjects research, or at events such as “Take Back the Night” marches or speak-outs do not provide notice that must be reported to the Coordinator by employees, unless the Complainant clearly indicates that they desire a report to be made or a seek a specific response from Hope College.

Supportive measures may be offered as the result of such disclosures without formal Hope College action.

Failure of a Mandated Reporter, as described above in this section, to report an incident of harassment or discrimination of which they become aware is a violation of Hope College policy and can be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply.

Though this may seem obvious, when a Mandated Reporter is engaged in harassment or other violations of this policy, they still have a duty to report their own misconduct, though Hope College is technically not on notice when a harasser is also a Mandated Reporter unless the harasser does in fact report themselves.

Finally, it is important to clarify that a Mandated Reporter who is themselves a target of harassment or other misconduct under this policy is not required to report their own experience, though they are, of course, encouraged to do so.

c. Anonymous Notice to Mandated Reporters

At the request of a Complainant, notice may be given by a Mandated Reporter to the EOC Coordinator anonymously, without identification of the Complainant. The Mandated Reporter cannot remain anonymous themselves.

If a Complainant has requested that a Mandated Reporter maintain the Complainant’s anonymity, the Mandated Reporter may do so unless it is reasonable to believe that a compelling threat to health or safety could exist. The Mandated Reporter will consult with the EOC Coordinator on that assessment without revealing personally identifiable information.

Anonymous notice will be investigated by the Hope College to the extent possible, both to assess the underlying allegation(s) and to determine if supportive measures or remedies can be provided.

However, anonymous notice typically limits the Hope College’s ability to investigate, respond, and provide remedies, depending on what information is shared. 
When a Complainant has made a request for anonymity, the Complainant’s personally identifiable information may be withheld by a Mandated Reporter [11], but all other details must be shared with the EOC Coordinator.

19. Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations

Mandated Reporters are also deemed Campus Security Authorities – meaning they have a duty to report all crimes they are made aware of to Campus Safety for federal statistical reporting purposes, as required by the Clery Act.

All personally identifiable information is kept private, but statistical information must be passed along to Campus Safety regarding the type of incident, the date and its general location for publication in the Annual Security Report and daily campus crime log. Issues of sexual assault and/or VAWA [12] based crimes that are reported to the EOC Coordinator will be shared with Campus Safety by that office.

20. Federal Timely Warning Obligations

Parties reporting sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking should be aware that under the Clery Act, Hope College must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that pose a serious or continuing threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community.

Hope College will ensure that a Complainant’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger.

21. When a Complainant Does Not Wish to Proceed

If a Complainant does not wish for their name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place, or does not want a formal complaint to be pursued, they may make such a request to the EOC Coordinator, who will evaluate that request in light of the duty to ensure the safety of the campus and to comply with state or federal law.

The EOC Coordinator has ultimate discretion over whether Hope College proceeds when the Complainant does not wish to do so, and the EOC Coordinator may sign a formal complaint to initiate a grievance process upon completion of an appropriate violence risk assessment.

The EOC Coordinator’s decision should be based on results of the violence risk assessment that show a compelling risk to health and/or safety that requires Hope College to pursue formal action to protect the community.

A compelling risk to health and/or safety may result from evidence of patterns of misconduct, predatory conduct, threats, abuse of minors, use of weapons, and/or violence. Hope Colleges may be compelled to act on alleged employee misconduct irrespective of a Complainant’s wishes.

The EOC Coordinator must also consider the effect that non-participation by the Complainant may have on the availability of evidence and Hope College’s ability to pursue a Formal Grievance Process fairly and effectively.

When the EOC Coordinator executes the written complaint, they do not become the Complainant. The Complainant is the individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute a violation of this policy.

When Hope College proceeds, the Complainant (or their Advisor) may have as much or as little involvement in the process as they wish. The Complainant retains all rights of a Complainant under this Policy irrespective of their level of participation.

Note that Hope College’s ability to remedy and respond to notice may be limited if the Complainant does not want the Hope College to proceed with an investigation and/or grievance process. The goal is to provide the Complainant with as much control over the process as possible, while balancing Hope College’s obligation to protect its community.

In cases in which the Complainant requests confidentiality/no formal action and the circumstances allow Hope College to honor that request, Hope College will offer informal resolution options (see below), supportive measures, and remedies to the Complainant and the community, but will not otherwise pursue formal action.

If the Complainant elects to take no action, they can change that decision if they decide to pursue a formal complaint at a later date. Upon making a formal complaint, a Complainant has the right, and can expect, to have allegations taken seriously by Hope College, and to have the incidents investigated and properly resolved through these procedures.

22. False Allegations and Evidence

Deliberately false and/or malicious accusations under this policy, as opposed to allegations which, even if erroneous, are made in good faith, are a serious offense and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

Additionally, witnesses and parties knowingly providing false evidence, tampering with or destroying evidence after being directed to preserve such evidence, or deliberately misleading an official conducting an investigation can be subject to discipline under Hope College policy.

23. Amnesty for Complainants and Witnesses

The Hope College community encourages the reporting of misconduct and crimes by Complainants and witnesses. Sometimes, Complainants or witnesses are hesitant to report to Hope College officials or participate in grievance processes because they fear that they themselves may be in violation of certain policies, such as underage drinking or use of illicit drugs at the time of the incident. Respondents may hesitate to be forthcoming during the process for the same reasons.

It is in the best interests of the Hope College community that Complainants choose to report misconduct to Hope College officials, that witnesses come forward to share what they know, and that all parties be forthcoming during the process.

To encourage reporting and participation in the process, Hope College maintains a policy of offering parties and witnesses amnesty from minor policy violations – such as underage consumption of alcohol or the use of illicit drugs – related to the incident.

Amnesty does not apply to more serious allegations such as physical abuse of another or illicit drug distribution. The decision not to offer amnesty to a Respondent is based on neither sex nor gender, but on the fact that collateral misconduct is typically addressed for all students within a progressive discipline system, and the rationale for amnesty – the incentive to report serious misconduct – is rarely applicable to the Respondent with respect to a Complainant.

Students: Sometimes, students are hesitant to assist others for fear that they may get in trouble themselves (for example, an underage student who has been drinking or using marijuana might hesitate to help take an individual who has experienced sexual misconduct to Campus Safety).

Hope College maintains a policy of amnesty for students who offer help to others in need. While in some circumstances policy violations cannot be overlooked, Hope College may provide purely educational options with no official disciplinary finding, rather than punitive sanctions, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.

24. Disabilities Accommodation in the Resolution Process

Hope College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and support to qualified students, employees, or others with disabilities to ensure equal access to the resolution process at Hope College. Anyone needing such accommodations or support should contact the Director of Disability and Accessibility Resources (DAR) or the Director of Human Resources, who will review the request and, in consultation with the person requesting the accommodation, and the EOC Coordinator, determine which accommodations are appropriate and necessary for full participation in the process.

25. Revision

These policies and procedures will be reviewed and updated periodically by the EOC Coordinator. The Hope College reserves the right to make changes to this document as necessary and once those changes are posted online, they are in effect.

The EOC Coordinator may make minor modifications to these procedures that do not materially jeopardize the fairness owed to any party, such as to accommodate summer schedules. The EOC Coordinator may also vary procedures materially with notice (on the Hope College website, with the appropriate effective date identified) upon determining that changes to law or regulation require policy or procedural alterations not reflected in this policy and procedure.

If government regulations change in a way that impacts this document, this document will be construed to comply with the most recent government regulations.

This Policy does not establish contractual rights, in whole or in part, between the College and any individuals, including students and employees.

This Policy and procedures are effective August 14, 2020.

APPENDIX A: PROCESS A
GRIEVANCE PROCESS FOR ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE POLICY ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, HARASSMENT, AND NONDISCRIMINATION

(not including allegations of Title IX Sexual Harassment, which is addressed in Process B)

Hope College will act on any allegation or notice of violation of the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination that is received by the EOC Coordinator [13] or a member of the administration, faculty, or other employee, with the exception of confidential resources, as articulated in the Policy above. Hope College will provide a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints filed under this Policy.

The procedures described below apply to all allegations of harassment or discrimination on the basis of protected class status involving students, staff, faculty members, or third parties. The procedures below do not apply to qualifying allegations of Title IX Sexual Harassment, as defined in Section 16.c. (including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as defined above) involving students, staff, administrator, or faculty members.

These procedures may also be used to address collateral misconduct arising from the investigation of or occurring in conjunction with harassing or discriminatory conduct (e.g., vandalism, physical abuse of another). All other allegations of misconduct unrelated to incidents covered by this policy will be addressed through the procedures elaborated in the respective student, faculty, and staff handbooks.

1. Initial Assessment

Following intake, receipt of notice, or a complaint of an alleged violation of Hope College’s nondiscrimination Policy, the EOC Coordinator [14] engages in an initial assessment, which is typically one to five business days in duration. The steps in an initial assessment can include:

  • The EOC Coordinator reaches out to the Complainant to offer supportive measures.
  • The EOC Coordinator works with the Complainant to ensure they have an Advisor.
  • The EOC Coordinator works with the Complainant to determine whether the Complainant prefers a supportive and/or remedial response or a Formal Resolution.
    • If a supportive and remedial response is preferred, the EOC Coordinator works with the Complainant to identify their wishes and then seeks to facilitate implementation. The Formal Resolution process is not initiated, though the Complainant can elect to initiate it later, if desired.
    • If an Informal Resolution option is preferred, the EOC Coordinator assesses whether the complaint is suitable for informal resolution, which informal mechanism may serve the situation best or is available and may seek to determine if the Respondent is also willing to engage in Informal Resolution.
    • If Formal Resolution is preferred, the EOC Coordinator initiates the investigation process and determines whether the scope of the investigation will address:
      • Incident, and/or
      • A potential pattern of misconduct, and/or
      • A culture/climate issue.
  • In many cases, the EOC Coordinator may determine that a Violence Risk Assessment (VRA) should be conducted by the Coordinated Assistance Resource and Education (CARE) team as part of the initial assessment. A VRA can aid in nine critical and/or required determinations, including:
    • Interim suspension of a Respondent who is a threat to health/safety;
    • Whether the EOC Coordinator should pursue Formal Resolution absent a willing/able Complainant;
    • Whether to put the investigation on the footing of incident and/or pattern and/or climate;
    • To help identify potentially predatory conduct;
    • To help assess/identify grooming behaviors;
    • Whether a complaint is amenable to Informal Resolution, and what modality may be most successful;
    • Whether to permit a voluntary withdrawal by the Respondent;
    • Assessment of appropriate sanctions/remedies;
    • Whether a Clery Act Timely Warning/Trespass order/Persona-non-grata is needed.

Based on the initial assessment, Hope College will initiate one of two responses:

  • Informal Resolution – typically used for less serious offenses and only when all parties agree to resolution, or when the Respondent is willing to accept responsibility for violating policy. This can also include a remedies-only response.
  • Formal Resolution – investigation of policy violation(s) and recommended finding, subject to a determination by Decision-makers from the “Pool” of trained faculty and staff and/or an outside contractor and the opportunity to appeal to an Appeal Panel. 

The investigation and the subsequent Formal Resolution determine whether the nondiscrimination policy has been violated. If so, Hope College will promptly implement effective remedies designed to end the discrimination, prevent recurrence, and address the effects.

The process followed considers the preference of the parties but is ultimately determined at the discretion of the EOC Coordinator. At any point during the initial assessment or formal investigation, if the EOC Coordinator determines that the evidence establishes that, even if true, the allegation would not violate the policy, the process will end and the complainant or allegation therein will be dismissed, and the parties will be notified.

The Complainant may request that the EOC Coordinator review the dismissal determination and/or re-open the investigation. This decision lies in the sole discretion of the EOC Coordinator, but the request is usually only granted in extraordinary circumstances.

2. Grievance Process Pool

The grievance processes rely on a pool of officials (“Pool”) to carry out the process. Members of the Pool are announced in an annual distribution of this Policy to all students and their parents/guardians, employees, prospective students, and prospective employees.

The list of members and a description of the Grievance Process Pool can be found at hopecollege.edu/titleix. Members of the Pool are trained annually in all aspects of the resolution process and can serve in any of the following roles, at the direction of the EOC Coordinator:

  • To provide sensitive intake for and initial advice pertaining to the allegations
  • To act as optional process Advisors to the parties
  • To facilitate Informal Resolution
  • To investigate allegations
  • To serve as a Decision-maker
  • To serve on an Appeal Panel

The EOC Coordinator appoints the Pool, which acts with independence and impartiality.

Pool members receive annual training organized by the EOC Coordinator or designee, including a review of Hope College policies and procedures as well as applicable federal and state laws and regulations so that they are able to appropriately address allegations, provide accurate information to members of the community, protect safety, and promote accountability.

The Pool members receive annual training specific to their role. This training includes, but is not limited to:

  • The scope of the Hope College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures
  • How to conduct investigations and hearings that protect the safety of Complainants and Respondents and promote accountability
  • Implicit bias
  • Disparate treatment and impact 
  • Reporting, confidentiality, and privacy requirements
  • Applicable laws, regulations, and federal regulatory guidance
  • How to implement appropriate and situation-specific remedies
  • How to investigate in a thorough, reliable, and impartial manner
  • How to uphold fairness, equity, and due process
  • How to weigh evidence
  • How to conduct questioning
  • How to assess credibility
  • Impartiality and objectivity 
  • Types of evidence
  • Deliberation
  • How to render findings and generate clear, concise, evidence-based rationales
  • The definitions of all offenses
  • How to apply definitions used by the Hope College with respect to consent (or the absence or negation of consent) consistently, impartially, and in accordance with policy
  • How to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes
  • How to serve impartially, by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias
  • Any technology to be used 
  • Issues of relevance of questions and evidence
  • Issues of relevance to create an investigation report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence
  • How to determine appropriate sanctions in reference to all forms of harassment and discrimination allegations

Specific training is also provided for Appeal Decision-makers, intake personnel, and Advisors.

The Pool typically includes:

  • At least 8-10 members of the staff
  • At least 8-10 members of the faculty

Pool members are usually appointed to a minimum of a three-year term, with the opportunity to serve consecutive terms if mutually agreed upon. Appointments to the pool should be made with attention to a broad representation of the campus community. Individuals who are interested in serving in the pool are encouraged to contact the EOC Coordinator.

3. Counterclaims

Counterclaims by the Respondent may be made in good faith but are also sometimes made for purposes of retaliation. Hope College is obligated to ensure that any process is not abused for retaliatory purposes.

Hope College permits the filing of counterclaims, but uses the initial assessment, described above in the Policy section, to assess whether the allegations are made in good faith. If they are, the allegations will be processed using the resolution procedures below, typically after resolution of the underlying allegation.

A delay in the processing of counterclaims is permitted, accordingly. Occasionally, allegations and counterclaims can be resolved through the same investigation, at the discretion of the EOC Coordinator. When counterclaims are not made in good faith, they will be considered retaliatory, and may constitute a violation of this Policy.

4. Advisors

a. Expectations of an Advisor

Hope College generally expects an Advisor to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend Hope College meetings when planned, but Hope College may change scheduled meetings to accommodate an Advisor’s inability to attend, if doing so does not cause an unreasonable delay.

Hope College may also make reasonable provisions to allow an Advisor who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, video conferencing, or other similar technologies as may be convenient and available.

Parties whose Advisors are disruptive or who do not abide by Hope College policies and procedures may face the loss of that Advisor and/or possible Policy violations.

Advisors are expected to consult with their advisees without disrupting Hope College meetings or interviews. Advisors do not represent parties in the process; their role is only to advise.

b. Expectations of the Parties with Respect to Advisors

Each party may choose an Advisor [15] who is eligible to accompany them throughout the process. The Advisor can be anyone, including an attorney, but should not be someone who is also a witness in the process. A party may elect to change Advisors during the process and is not obligated to use the same Advisor throughout.

The parties are expected to inform the Investigators of the identity of their Advisor at least two (2) business days before the date of their first meeting with the Investigator(s) (or as soon as possible if a more expeditious meeting is necessary or desired).

The parties are expected to provide timely notice to the Investigator(s) and/or the EOC Coordinator if they change Advisors at any time.

Upon written request of a party, Hope College will copy the Advisor on all communications between the College and the party. The Advisor may be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) regarding private, sensitive records.

At the discretion of the EOC Coordinator, more than one Advisor may be permitted to the parties, upon request. For equity purposes, if one party is allowed another Advisor, the other party must be allowed one to as well.

c. Assistance in Securing an Advisor

For representation, Respondents may wish to contact organizations such as:

Complainants may wish to contact organizations such as:

5. Resolution Options

Proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the resolution process are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accord with Hope College Policy.

While there is an expectation of privacy around what is discussed during interviews, the parties have discretion to share their own experiences with others if they so choose, but are encouraged to discuss with their Advisors first before doing so.

a. Informal Resolution

Informal Resolution is applicable when the parties voluntarily agree to resolve the matter through mediation, facilitation, restorative practices, or another form of informal resolution, or when the Respondent accepts responsibility for violating Policy, or when the EOC Coordinator can resolve the matter informally by providing remedies to resolve the situation.

It is not necessary to pursue Informal Resolution first in order to pursue Formal Resolution, and any party participating in Informal Resolution can stop the process at any time and request the Formal Resolution process. Further, if an Informal Resolution fails after the fact, Formal Resolution may be pursued.

Informal Resolution is a process, such as mediation or restorative practices, by which a mutually agreed upon resolution of an allegation is reached. It may be used for less serious, yet inappropriate, behaviors and is encouraged as an alternative to the Formal Resolution process (described below) to resolve conflicts. The parties must consent to the use of Informal Resolution.

The EOC Coordinator determines if Informal Resolution is appropriate, based on the willingness of the parties, the nature of the conduct at issue, and the susceptibility of the conduct to Informal Resolution.

In an Informal Resolution meeting, a trained administrator facilitates a dialogue with the parties to an effective resolution, if possible. Institutionally-imposed sanctions are not possible as the result of an Informal Resolution process, though the parties may agree to accepted sanctions and/or appropriate remedies.

The EOC Coordinator maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution can result in appropriate enforcement actions.

Informal Resolution is not typically the primary resolution mechanism used to address reports of violent behavior of any kind or in other cases of serious violations of policy, though it may be made available after the Formal Resolution process is completed should the parties and the EOC Coordinator believe it could be beneficial. The results of Informal Resolution are not appealable.

i. Respondent Accepts Responsibility for Alleged Violations 

The Respondent may accept responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations at any point during the resolution process. If the Respondent accepts responsibility, the EOC Coordinator makes a determination that the individual is in violation of Hope College Policy.

The EOC Coordinator then determines appropriate sanction(s) or responsive actions, which are promptly implemented in order to effectively stop the harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation; prevent its recurrence; and remedy the effects of the conduct, both on the Complainant and the community.

If the Respondent accepts responsibility for all of the alleged policy violations and the EOC Coordinator or designee has determined appropriate sanction(s) or responsive actions, which are promptly implemented, the process is over. The Complainant will be informed of this outcome.

If the Respondent accepts responsibility for some of the alleged policy violations and the EOC Coordinator has determined appropriate sanction(s) or responsive actions, which are promptly implemented, for those violations, then the remaining allegations will continue to be investigated and resolved. The Complainant will be informed of this outcome. The parties are still able to seek Informal Resolution on the remaining allegations, subject to the stipulations above.

ii. Negotiated Resolution

The EOC Coordinator, with the consent of the parties, may negotiate and implement any agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and Hope College.

b. Formal Resolution 

Formal Resolution can be pursued for any behavior for which the Respondent has not accepted responsibility that constitutes conduct covered by the Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination Policy at any time during the process. Formal Resolution will be provided in a prompt and equitable manner. Formal Resolution includes a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation.

If Formal Resolution is initiated, the EOC Coordinator will provide written notification of the investigation to the parties at an appropriate time during the investigation. Typically, notice is given at least 24 hours in advance of an interview. Advanced notice facilitates the parties’ ability to identify and choose an Advisor, if any, to accompany them to the interview.

Notification will include a meaningful summary of the allegations, will be made in writing, and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official Hope College records, or emailed to the parties’ Hope College-issued or designated email account.

Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. The notification should include the policies allegedly violated, if known at the time. Alternatively, the policies allegedly violated can be provided at a later date, in writing, as the investigation progresses, and details become clearer.

Hope College aims to complete all investigations within a ninety (90) to one-hundred-twenty (120) business day time period, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the EOC Coordinator, with notice to the parties as appropriate.

Once the decision is made to commence a formal investigation, the EOCC Coordinator typically appoints the Hope College Equal Opportunity and Title IX Investigator to conduct the investigation. However, if deemed necessary, it is also possible the EOCC Coordinator could assign one of the following to the investigation: an outside contractor/attorney or a team of two members of the Pool. This will usually occur within two to five (2-5) business days of determining that an investigation should proceed.

Hope Colleges strives to complete investigations expeditiously, normally within thirty (30) business days, though some investigations take weeks or even months, depending on the nature, extent, and complexity of the allegations, availability of witnesses, police involvement, etc.

Hope College will make a good faith effort to complete investigations as promptly as circumstances permit and will communicate regularly with the parties to update them on the progress and timing of the investigation.

Hope College may undertake a short delay in its investigation (several days to weeks, to allow evidence collection) when criminal charges based on the same behaviors that invoke the Hope College’s resolution process are being investigated by law enforcement. Hope College will promptly resume its investigation and resolution process once notified by law enforcement that the initial evidence collection process is complete.

Hope College action(s) are not typically altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the underlying incident(s) have been filed or that criminal charges have been dismissed or reduced.

Investigations involve interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses, obtaining available, relevant evidence, and identifying sources of expert information, as necessary.

All parties have a full and fair opportunity, though the investigation process, to suggest witnesses and questions, to provide evidence, and to fully review and respond to all evidence, on the record.

6. Investigation

The Investigator(s) typically takes the following steps, if not already completed (not necessarily in this order):

  • Determine the identity and contact information of the Complainant
  • In coordination with campus partners (e.g., the EOC Coordinator), initiate or assist with any necessary supportive measures
  • Identify all policies implicated by the alleged misconduct
  • Assist the EOC Coordinator with conducting an initial assessment to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the Respondent has violated policy
  • If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the process is closed with no further action
  • Commence a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended investigation timeframe, and order of interviews for all parties and witnesses
  • Meet with the Complainant to finalize their statement, if necessary 
  • Prepare the initial Notice of Investigation and Allegation (NOIA) on the basis of the initial assessment. Notice may be one step or multiple steps, depending on how the investigation unfolds, and potential policy violations may be added or dropped as more is learned. Investigators will update the NOIA accordingly and provide it to the parties.
  • Notice should inform the parties of their right to have the assistance of a Pool member as a process Advisor appointed by the Hope College or other Advisor of their choosing present for all meetings attended by the advisee
  • When formal notice is being given, it should provide the parties with a written description of the alleged violation(s), a list of all policies allegedly violated, a description of the applicable procedures, and a statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result
  • Give an instruction to the parties to preserve any evidence that is directly related to the allegations
  • Provide the parties and witnesses with an opportunity to review and verify the Investigator’s summary notes from interviews and meetings with that specific party or witness
  • Make good faith efforts to notify the parties of any meeting or interview involving the other party, in advance when possible
  • Interview all relevant individuals and conduct follow-up interviews as necessary
  • Allow each party the opportunity to suggest questions they wish the Investigator(s) to ask of the other party and witnesses
  • Complete the investigation promptly and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline
  • Provide regular status updates to the parties throughout the investigation
  • Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, summarize for the parties the list of witnesses whose information will be used to render a finding
  • Write a comprehensive investigation report fully summarizing the investigation and all evidence
  • Provide parties with a copy of the draft investigation report when it is completed, including all relevant evidence, analysis, credibility assessments, and recommended finding(s)
  • Provide each party with a full and fair opportunity to respond to the report in writing within five (5) days and incorporate that response into the report
  • Investigators may choose to respond in writing in the report to the responses of the parties, and/or to share the responses between the parties for their responses, while also ensuring that they do not create a never-ending feedback loop 
  • Share the report with the EOC Coordinator or legal counsel for review and feedback.
  • Provide the final report to the EOC Coordinator with a recommendation to the Decision-makers on a determination, based on a preponderance of the evidence, whether a policy violation is more likely than not to have occurred.
  • Provide the final report to the EOC Coordinator. Recommend to the EOC Coordinator a finding, based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not).

7. Determination

Within two to three days of receiving the Investigator’s recommendation, the EOC Coordinator will designate a three-member panel from the Pool to serve as Decision-makers. They will review the report and all responses, and then make the final determination on the basis of the preponderance of the evidence.

If the record is incomplete, the EOC Coordinator and/or Decision-makers may direct a re-opening of the investigation, or may direct or conduct any additional inquiry necessary, including informally meeting with the parties or any witnesses, if needed.

The recommendation of the investigation should be strongly considered but is not binding on the Decision-Makers. The Decision-makers may consider impact statements from the parties if and when determining appropriate sanction(s), if any.

The EOC Coordinator then provides the parties with a written Notice of Outcome in a timely manner to include findings, any sanction(s), and a detailed rationale, delivered simultaneously (without undue delay) to the parties

8. Additional Details of the Investigation Process

a. Witness responsibilities 

Witnesses (as distinguished from the parties) who are faculty or staff of Hope College are expected to cooperate with and participate in Hope College’s investigation and resolution process.

b. Remote processes

Parties and witnesses may be interviewed remotely by phone, video conferencing, or similar technologies if the Investigator(s) or Decision-maker determine that timeliness or efficiency dictates a need for remote interviewing. Witnesses may also provide written statements in lieu of interviews, or respond to questions in writing, if deemed appropriate by the Investigator(s), though this approach is not ideal. Where remote technologies are used, the Hope College makes reasonable efforts to ensure privacy, and that any technology does not work to the detriment of any party or subject them to unfairness.

c. Recording

No unauthorized audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during the resolution process. If Investigator(s) elect to audio and/or video record interviews, all involved parties must be made aware of audio and/or video recording.

d. Evidence

Any evidence that is relevant and credible may be considered, including an individual’s prior misconduct history as well as evidence indicating a pattern of misconduct. The process should exclude irrelevant or immaterial evidence and may disregard evidence lacking in credibility or that is improperly prejudicial.

e. Sexual history/patterns 

Unless the EOC Coordinator determines it is appropriate, the investigation and the finding do not consider: (1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; (2) the sexual history of the parties (though there may be a limited exception made with regard to the sexual history between the parties); or (3) the character of the parties.

f. Previous allegations/violations 

While previous conduct violations by the Respondent are not generally admissible as information supporting the current allegation, the Investigator(s) may supply the EOC Coordinator with information about previous good faith allegations and/or findings, when that information suggests potential pattern and/or predatory conduct.

Previous disciplinary action of any kind involving the Respondent may be considered in determining the appropriate sanction(s), if the Hope College uses a progressive discipline system.

g. Notification of outcome 

If the Respondent admits to the violation(s), or is found in violation, the Decision-makers, in consultation with other administrators as appropriate, determines sanction(s) and/or responsive actions, which are promptly implemented in order to effectively to stop the harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation; prevent its recurrence; and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct, both on the Complainant and the community.

The EOC Coordinator informs the parties of the determination within two to three business days of the resolution, ideally simultaneously, but without significant time delay between notifications. Notifications are made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person; mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official Hope College records; or emailed to the parties’ Hope College-issued or designated email account. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice is presumptively delivered.

The Notification of Outcome specifies the finding for each alleged policy violation, any sanction(s) that may result which Hope College is permitted to share pursuant to state or federal law, and the rationale supporting the essential findings to the extent the Hope College is permitted to share under state or federal law.

The notice will detail when the determination is considered final and will detail any changes that are made prior to finalization.

Unless based on an acceptance of violation by the Respondent, the determination may be appealed by either party. The Notification of Outcome also includes the grounds on which the parties may appeal and the steps the parties may take to request an appeal of the findings. More information about the appeal procedures can be found in section 11 below.

9. Sanctions

Factors considered when determining any sanction(s)/responsive action(s) may include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature, severity of, and circumstances surrounding the violation 
  • An individual’s disciplinary history 
  • Previous allegations or allegations involving similar conduct 
  • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to bring an end to the discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation
  • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to prevent the future recurrence of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation
  • The need to remedy the effects of the discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation on the Complainant and the community
  • The impact on the parties
  • Any other information deemed relevant by the EOC Coordinator

The sanction(s) will be implemented as soon as is feasible. The sanctions described in this policy are not exclusive of, and may be in addition to, other actions taken, or sanctions imposed by outside authorities.

a. Student Sanctions 

The following are the usual sanctions that may be imposed upon students or organizations singly or in combination:

Primary sanctions include:

  • Letter of Warning: An official letter of warning is placed in the student’s judicial file.
  • Probation Level I: Probation set for a specific length of time. If an individual is found in violation of any College policy during that time, a more serious sanction will be imposed.
  • Probation Level II: Probation set for a specific length of time. Students on Probation Level II may be removed from leadership positions in student organizations. Any student found in violation of this level of probation will have a more serious sanction imposed, usually Withheld Suspension. Students on Probation Level II may not be permitted to participate in College-affiliated travel (e.g., Spring Break Immersion Trips, study abroad experiences, etc.) and/or leadership positions in Registered Student and/or Greek Letter Organizations.
  • Withheld Suspension: Withheld Suspension is for a specific period of time. Students on Withheld Suspension may be immediately suspended from the College if the student is involved with a violation of any College policy during the stated period of time. This is the most serious sanction short of suspension. Students on Withheld Suspension may not be permitted to participate in College-affiliated travel (e.g., Spring Break Immersion Trips, study abroad experiences, etc.) and/or leadership positions in Registered Student and/or Greek Letter Organizations.
  • Suspension: A set length of time when an individual may not be involved in any aspect of the college. This includes courses, housing, and campus activities. A student may apply for readmission at the end of the suspension period. 
  • Expulsion: A student is dismissed from the College permanently.

Supplemental Sanctions (to be used in addition to primary sanctions):

  • Educational Sanction: The decision-makers may decide to issue a sanction, within reason, that will be beneficial in assisting the student to understand the impact of their behavior on the community. This may include but is not limited to:
    • Writing a research paper or reflective piece relevant to the violation.
    • Meeting with a faculty or staff member to discuss items relevant to the violation.
    • Develop an action plan to deter further violations.
    • Develop a program or publicity campaign relevant to the violation.
  • Withheld Removal from Housing: This sanction means that if a student is involved in a violation of any college policy during the stated period of time, he/she may be immediately removed from college housing. 
  • Housing: A student’s current and future housing status may be changed if such an action is deemed beneficial for either the college or the student. 
  • Referral for Assessment: This could include, but not be limited to, behavioral, psychological, or substance use assessments. 

b. Employee Sanctions

Responsive actions for an employee who has engaged in harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation include:

  • Warning – Verbal or Written
  • Performance Improvement/Management Process
  • Required Counseling 
  • Required Training or Education
  • Probation
  • Loss of Annual Pay Increase
  • Loss of Oversight or Supervisory Responsibility
  • Demotion
  • Suspension with pay
  • Suspension without pay 
  • Termination 
  • Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions, Hope College may assign any other sanctions as deemed appropriate.

10. Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges are Pending 

Students: If a student has an allegation pending for violation of the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination. Hope College may place a hold, bar access to an official transcript, and/or prohibit graduation as necessary to permit the resolution process to be completed.

Employees: Should an employee resign with unresolved allegations pending, the records of the EOC Coordinator will reflect that status, and any Hope College responses to future inquiries regarding employment references for that individual will include the former employee’s unresolved status.

11. Appeals

All requests for appeal consideration must be submitted in writing to the EOC Coordinator within 5 business days of the delivery of the written finding of the Decision-makers. Any party may appeal the findings only under the grounds described below.

A three-member appeals panel chosen from the Pool will be designated by the EOC Coordinator from those who have not been involved in the process previously. One member of the Appeal Panel will be designated as the Chair. Any party may appeal, but appeals are limited to the following grounds:

Appeals are limited to the following grounds:

  • Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
  • New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter; 
  • The EOC Coordinator, Investigator(s), or Decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the specific Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter; and
  • The sanctions imposed fall outside the range of sanctions that Hope College has designated for this offense and the cumulative record of the Respondent. 

When any party requests an appeal, the EOC Coordinator will share the appeal request with the other party(ies) or other appropriate persons such as the Investigator(s), who may file a response within three (3) business days. The other party may also bring their own appeal on separate grounds.

If new grounds are raised, the original appealing party will be permitted to submit a written response to these new grounds within 3 business days. These responses or appeal requests will be shared with each party. The Appeal Panel will typically review the appeal request(s) within three (3) to five (5) business days of completing the pre-appeal exchange of materials. If grounds are not sufficient for an appeal, or the appeal is not timely, the appeal Chair/Panel dismisses the appeal.

When the appeal Chair/panel finds that at least one of the grounds is met by at least one party, additional principles governing the review of appeals include the following:

  • Decisions by the Appeal Chair/Panel are to be deferential to the original decision, making changes to the finding only when there is clear error and to the sanction(s)/responsive action(s) only if there is compelling justification to do so.
  • Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings (de novo) of the allegation(s). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the investigation and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal. 
  • An appeal is not an opportunity for the Appeal Chair/Panel to substitute their judgment for that of the original Investigator(s) or Decision-makers merely because they disagree with the finding and/or sanction(s). 
  • Appeals granted based on new evidence should normally be remanded to the Investigator(s) for reconsideration. Other appeals should be remanded at the discretion of the Appeal Chair/Panel.
  • Sanctions imposed as the result of Formal Resolution are implemented immediately unless the EOC Coordinator delays their implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal.
    • For students: Graduation, study abroad, internships/ externships, etc., do NOT in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances, and students may not be able to participate in those activities during their appeal.
  • All parties will be informed in writing within 3 to 5 business days of the outcome of the appeal without significant time delay between notifications, and in accordance with the standards for Notice of Outcome as defined above.
  • Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final; further appeals are not permitted, even if a decision or sanction is changed on remand. 
  • In rare cases when a procedural error cannot be cured by the original Investigator(s) and/or Decision-makers (as in cases of bias), the Appeal Chair/Panel may recommend a new investigation and/or Formal Resolution process, including a new resolution administrator. 
  • The results of a new Formal Resolution process can be appealed once, on any of the three applicable grounds for appeals. 
  • In cases in which the appeal results in Respondent’s reinstatement to Hope College or resumption of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the Respondent to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irreparable in the short term.

12. Long-Term Remedies/Actions

Following the conclusion of the resolution process, and in addition to any sanctions implemented, the EOC Coordinator may implement long-term remedies or actions with respect to the parties and/or the campus community to stop the harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation; remedy its effects; and prevent its reoccurrence.

These remedies/actions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Referral to counseling and health services
  • Referral to the Employee Assistance Program
  • Education to the community 
  • Permanent alteration of housing assignments
  • Permanent alteration of work arrangements for employees
  • Provision of campus safety escorts
  • Climate surveys
  • Policy modification
  • Provision of transportation accommodations 
  • Implementation of long-term contact limitations between the parties
  • Implementation of adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc. 

At the discretion of the EOC Coordinator, long-term remedies may also be provided to the Complainant even if no policy violation is found.

When no policy violation is found, the EOC Coordinator will address any remedial requirements owed by the Hope College to the Respondent.

13. Failure to Complete Sanctions/Comply with Interim and Long-term Remedies/Responsive Actions

All Respondents are expected to comply with conduct sanctions, responsive actions, and corrective actions within the timeframe specified by the Decision-makers.

Failure to abide by the sanction(s)/action(s) imposed by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect, or any other reason, may result in additional sanction(s)/responsive/corrective action(s), including suspension, expulsion, and/or termination from Hope College.

A suspension will only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the EOC Coordinator.

14. Recordkeeping 

In implementing this policy, records of all allegations, investigations, resolutions, and hearings will be kept for seven years, or as required by state or federal law or institutional policy, by the EOC Coordinator in the EOC Office case database.

15. Statement of the Rights of the Parties (see Appendix C)

 

APPENDIX B – PROCESS B
GRIEVANCE PROCESS FOR ALLEGED TITLE IX SEXUAL HARASSMENT VIOLATIONS (KNOWN AS PROCESS “B”)

1. Overview

Hope College will act on any formal or informal notice/complaint of violation of the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination (“the Policy”) that is received by the EOC Coordinator or any other Official with Authority by applying these procedures, known as “Process B.”

The procedures below apply only to qualifying allegations of Title IX Sexual Harassment (including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as defined above) involving students, staff, administrator, or faculty members.

If other policies are invoked, such as policies on protected class harassment or discrimination above, please see Appendix A for a description of the procedures applicable to the resolution of such offenses, known as “Process A.”

Process A can also apply to sexual harassment (including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as defined above) when jurisdiction does not fall within Process B, as determined by the EOC Coordinator.

The procedures below may be used to address collateral misconduct arising from the investigation of or occurring in conjunction with reported misconduct (e.g., vandalism, physical abuse of another). All other allegations of misconduct unrelated to incidents covered by the Policy will be addressed through procedures elaborated in the student, faculty, and staff handbooks.

2. Notice/Complaint

Upon receipt of a complaint or notice to the EOC Coordinator of an alleged violation of the Policy, Hope College initiates a prompt initial assessment to determine the next steps the College needs to take.

Hope College will initiate at least one of three responses:

  1. Offering supportive measures because the Complainant does not want to proceed formally; and/or
  2. An informal resolution; and/or 
  3. A Formal Grievance Process including an investigation and a hearing. 
    The investigation and grievance process will determine whether or not the Policy has been violated.

3. Initial Assessment

Following receipt of notice or a complaint of an alleged violation of this Policy, the EOC Coordinator [16] engages in an initial assessment, which is typically one to five business days in duration. The steps in an initial assessment can include:

  • If notice is given, the EOC Coordinator seeks to determine if the person impacted wishes to make a formal complaint, and will assist them to do so, if desired. 
    • If they do not wish to do so, the EOC Coordinator determines whether to initiate a complaint because a violence risk assessment indicates a compelling threat to health and/or safety.
  • If a formal complaint is received, the EOC Coordinator assesses its sufficiency and works with the Complainant to make sure it is correctly completed.
  • The EOC Coordinator reaches out to the Complainant to offer supportive measures. 
  • The EOC Coordinator works with the Complainant to ensure they are aware of the right to have an Advisor.
  • The EOC Coordinator works with the Complainant to determine whether the Complainant prefers a supportive and remedial response, an informal resolution option, or a formal investigation and grievance process. 
    • Informal resolution is not available for student complaints against employees. 
    • If a supportive and remedial response is preferred, the EOC Coordinator works with the Complainant to identify their wishes and then seeks to facilitate implementation. If no Formal Grievance Process is initiated, the Complainant can elect to initiate one later, if desired. 
    • If an informal resolution option is preferred, the EOC Coordinator assesses whether the complaint is suitable for informal resolution, which informal mechanism may serve the situation best or is available and may seek to determine if the Respondent is also willing to engage in informal resolution. 
    • If a Formal Grievance Process is preferred, the EOC Coordinator determines if the misconduct alleged falls within the scope of Title IX: 
      • If it does, the EOC Coordinator will initiate the formal investigation and grievance process, directing the investigation to address:
        • an incident, and/or 
        • a pattern of alleged misconduct, and/or 
        • a culture/climate issue, based on the nature of the complaint. 
      • If it does not, the EOC Coordinator determines that Title IX does not apply (and will “dismiss” that aspect of the complaint, if any), assesses which policies may apply and refers the matter for resolution under Process A. Please note that dismissing a complaint under Title IX is just procedural, and does not limit the Hope College’s authority to address a complaint with an appropriate Process and remedies. 

a. Violence Risk Assessment 

In many cases, the EOC Coordinator may determine that a Violence Risk Assessment (VRA) should be conducted by the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) as part of the initial assessment.

Threat assessment is the process of evaluating the actionability of violence by an individual against another person or group following the issuance of a direct or conditional threat. A VRA is a broader term used to assess any potential violence or danger, regardless of the presence of a vague, conditional, or direct threat.

VRAs require specific training and are typically conducted by psychologists, clinical counselors, social workers, case managers, law enforcement officers, student conduct officers, or other Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT)/CARE team members. A VRA authorized by the EOC Coordinator will occur in collaboration with the Behavioral Intervention Team. Where a VRA is required by the EOC Coordinator, a Respondent refusing to cooperate may result in a charge of failure to comply within the appropriate student or employee conduct process.

A VRA is not an evaluation for an involuntary behavioral health hospitalization, nor is it a psychological or mental health assessment. A VRA assesses the risk of actionable violence, often with a focus on targeted/predatory escalations, and is supported by research from the fields of law enforcement, criminology, human resources, and psychology.

b. Dismissal (Mandatory and Discretionary) [17]

Hope College must dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing, it is determined that:

  1. The conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defined in the Policy hereinabove, even if proved; and/or
  2. The conduct did not occur in an educational program or activity controlled by Hope College (including buildings or property controlled by recognized student organizations), and/or Hope College does not have control of the Respondent; and/or
  3. The conduct did not occur against a person in the United States; and/or
  4. At the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant is not participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of Hope College. 

Hope College may dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing:

  1. A Complainant notifies the EOC Coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein; or
  2. The Respondent is no longer enrolled in or employed by the Hope College; or 
  3. Specific circumstances prevent Hope College from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.

Upon any dismissal, Hope College will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and the rationale for doing so simultaneously to the parties.

This dismissal decision is appealable by any party under the procedures for appeal below. A Complainant who decides to withdraw a complaint may later request to reinstate it or refile it.

4. Counterclaims

Hope College is obligated to ensure that the grievance process is not abused for retaliatory purposes. Hope College permits the filing of counterclaims but uses an initial assessment, described above, to assess whether the allegations in the counterclaim are made in good faith. Counterclaims by the Respondent may be made in good faith, but are, on occasion, also made for purposes of retaliation. Counterclaims made with retaliatory intent will not be permitted.

Counterclaims determined to have been reported in good faith will be processed using the grievance procedures below. Investigation of such claims may take place after resolution of the underlying initial allegation, in which case a delay may occur.

Counterclaims may also be resolved through the same investigation as the underlying allegation, at the discretion of the EOC Coordinator. When counterclaims are not made in good faith, they will be considered retaliatory and may constitute a violation of this policy.

5. Right to an Advisor

The parties may each have an Advisor [18] of their choice present with them for all meetings and interviews within the resolution process, if they so choose. The parties may select whoever they wish to serve as their Advisor as long as the Advisor is eligible.

Choosing an Advisor who is also a witness in the process creates potential for bias and conflict-of-interest. A party who chooses an Advisor who is also a witness can anticipate that issues of potential bias will be explored by the hearing Decision-maker(s).

Hope College may permit parties to have more than one Advisor upon special request to the EOC Coordinator. The decision to grant this request is at the sole discretion of the EOC Coordinator and will be granted equitably to all parties.

a. Who Can Serve as an Advisor

The Advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other individual a party chooses to advise, support, and/or consult with them throughout the resolution process. The parties may choose Advisors from inside or outside of the Hope College community.

The EOC Coordinator will also offer to assign a trained Advisor for any party if the party so chooses. If the parties choose an Advisor from the pool available from Hope College, the Advisor will be trained by Hope College and be familiar with the Hope College’s resolution process.

If the parties choose an Advisor from outside the pool of those identified Hope College, the Advisor may not have been trained by Hope College and may not be familiar with Hope College policies and procedures.

Parties also have the right to choose not to have an Advisor in the initial stages of the resolution process, prior to a hearing.

b. Advisors in Hearings/Hope College-Appointed Advisor

Under U.S. Department of Education regulations applicable to Title IX, cross-examination is required during the hearing, but must be conducted by the parties’ Advisors. The parties are not permitted to directly cross-examine each other or any witnesses. If a party does not have an Advisor for a hearing, Hope College will appoint a trained Advisor for the limited purpose of conducting any cross-examination.

A party may reject this appointment and choose their own Advisor, but they may not proceed without an Advisor. If the party’s Advisor will not conduct cross-examination, Hope College will appoint an Advisor who will do so, regardless of the participation or non-participation of the advised party in the hearing itself. Extensive questioning of the parties and witnesses will also be conducted by the Decision-maker(s) during the hearing.

c. Advisor’s Role

The parties may be accompanied by their Advisor in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present, including intake and interviews. Advisors should help the parties prepare for each meeting and are expected to advise ethically, with integrity, and in good faith.

d. Pre-Interview Meetings

Advisors may request to meet with the administrative officials conducting interviews/meetings in advance of these interviews or meetings. This pre-meeting allows Advisors to clarify and understand their role and Hope College’s policies and procedures.

e. Advisor Violations of Hope College Policy

All Advisors are subject to the same Hope College policies and procedures, whether they are attorneys or not. Advisors are expected to advise their advisees without disrupting proceedings. Advisors should not address Hope College officials in a meeting or interview unless invited to (e.g., asking procedural questions). The Advisor may not make a presentation or represent their advisee during any meeting or proceeding and may not speak on behalf of the advisee to the Investigator(s) or other Decision-maker(s) except during a hearing proceeding, during cross-examination.

The parties are expected to ask and respond to questions on their own behalf throughout the investigation phase of the resolution process. Although the Advisor generally may not speak on behalf of their advisee, the Advisor may consult with their advisee, either privately as needed, or by conferring or passing notes during any resolution process meeting or interview. For longer or more involved discussions, the parties and their Advisors should ask for breaks to allow for private consultation.

Any Advisor who oversteps their role as defined by this policy will be warned only once. If the Advisor continues to disrupt or otherwise fails to respect the limits of the Advisor role, the meeting will be ended, or other appropriate measures implemented. Subsequently, the EOC Coordinator will determine how to address the Advisor’s non-compliance and future role.

f. Sharing Information with the Advisor

Hope College expects that the parties may wish to have Hope College share documentation and evidence related to the allegations with their Advisors. Parties may share this information directly with their Advisor or other individuals if they wish. Doing so may help the parties participate more meaningfully in the resolution process.

Hope College also provides a consent form that authorizes the College to share such information directly with their Advisor. The parties must either complete and submit this form to the EOC Coordinator or provide similar documentation demonstrating consent to a release of information to the Advisor before Hope College is able to share records with an Advisor.

g. Privacy of Records Shared with Advisor

Advisors are expected to maintain the privacy of the records shared with them. These records may not be shared with third parties, disclosed publicly, or used for purposes not explicitly authorized by Hope College. Hope College may seek to restrict the role of any Advisor who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by the Hope College’s privacy expectations.

h. Expectations of an Advisor

Hope College generally expects an Advisor to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend Hope College meetings when planned, but may change scheduled meetings to accommodate an Advisor’s inability to attend, if doing so does not cause an unreasonable delay.

Hope College may also make reasonable provisions to allow an Advisor who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, video conferencing, or other similar technologies as may be convenient and available.

i. Expectations of the Parties with Respect to Advisors

A party may elect to change Advisors during the Process and is not obligated to use the same Advisor throughout. The parties are expected to inform the Investigator(s) of the identity of their Advisor at least two (2) business days before the date of their first meeting with Investigators (or as soon as possible if a more expeditious meeting is necessary or desired).

The parties are expected to provide timely notice to the EOC Coordinator if they change Advisors at any time. It is assumed that if a party changes Advisors, consent to share information with the previous Advisor is terminated, and a release for the new Advisor must be secured. Parties are expected to inform the EOC Coordinator of the identity of their hearing Advisor at least two (2) business days before the hearing.

j. Assistance in Securing an Advisor

For representation, Respondents may wish to contact organizations such as:

Complainants may wish to contact organizations such as:

6. Resolution Processes

Resolution proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the resolution Process are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accordance with Hope College policy. While there is an expectation of privacy around what Investigators share with parties during interviews, the parties have discretion to share their own knowledge and evidence with others if they so choose. Hope College encourages parties to discuss this with their Advisors before doing so.

a. Informal Resolution 

Informal Resolution can include three different approaches:

  • When the parties agree to resolve the matter through an informal resolution mechanism including mediation, restorative practices, etc.; 
  • When the Respondent accepts responsibility for violating policy, and desires to accept a sanction and end the resolution process; or
  • When the EOC Coordinator can resolve the matter informally by providing supportive measures to remedy the situation. 

To initiate Informal Resolution, a Complainant needs to submit a formal complaint, as defined above. If a Respondent wishes to initiate Informal Resolution, they should contact the EOC Coordinator to so indicate.

It is not necessary to pursue Informal Resolution first in order to pursue a Formal Grievance Process, and any party participating in Informal Resolution can stop the Process at any time and begin or resume the Formal Grievance Process.

Prior to implementing Informal Resolution, Hope College will provide the parties with written notice of the reported misconduct and any sanctions or measures that may result from participating in such a process, including information regarding any records that will be maintained or shared by Hope College.

Hope College will obtain voluntary, written confirmation that all parties wish to resolve the matter through Informal Resolution before proceeding and will not pressure the parties to participate in Informal Resolution. Informal resolution is not available for sexual harassment allegations filed by students against employees.

Informal Resolution is an informal process, including mediation or restorative practices, etc., by which a mutually agreed upon resolution of an allegation is reached. All parties must consent to the use of Informal Resolution.

The EOC Coordinator may look to the following factors to assess whether Informal Resolution is appropriate, or which form of Informal Resolution may be most successful for the parties:

  • The parties’ amenability to Informal Resolution;
  • Likelihood of potential resolution, taking into account any power dynamics between the parties;
  • The parties’ motivation to participate;
  • Civility of the parties;
  • Cleared violence risk assessment/ongoing risk analysis;
  • Disciplinary history;
  • Whether an emergency removal is needed;
  • Skill of the Informal Resolution facilitator with this type of complaint;
  • Complaint complexity;
  • Emotional investment/intelligence of the parties;
  • Rationality of the parties;
  • Goals of the parties;
  • Adequate resources to invest in Informal Resolution (time, staff, etc.)

The ultimate determination of whether Informal Resolution is available or successful is to be made by the EOC Coordinator. The EOC Coordinator maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive/disciplinary actions. Results of complaints resolved by Informal Resolution are not appealable.

i. Respondent Accepts Responsibility for Alleged Violations 

The Respondent may accept responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations at any point during the resolution process. If the Respondent indicates an intent to accept responsibility for all of the alleged misconduct, the formal process will be paused, and the EOC Coordinator will determine whether Informal Resolution can be used according to the criteria in that section above.

If Informal Resolution is applicable, the EOC Coordinator will determine whether all parties and Hope College are able to agree on responsibility, sanctions, and/or remedies. If so, the EOC Coordinator implements the accepted finding that the Respondent is in violation of Hope College policy and implements agreed-upon sanctions and/or remedies, in coordination with other appropriate administrator(s), as necessary.

This result is not subject to appeal once all parties indicate their written assent to all agreed upon terms of resolution. When the parties cannot agree on all terms of resolution, the Formal Grievance Process will resume at the same point where it was paused.

When a resolution is accomplished, the appropriate sanction or responsive actions are promptly implemented in order to effectively stop the harassment or discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct, both on the Complainant and the community.

ii. Negotiated Resolution

The EOC Coordinator, with the consent of the parties, may negotiate and implement an agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and Hope College. Negotiated Resolutions are not appealable.

b. Formal Resolution

If a Complainant wants formal action in response to their allegations, the formal grievance process will involve an investigation and hearing. “Process B,” is a method of formal resolution designated by Hope College to address conduct that falls within the policy, and which complies with the requirements of 34 CFR Part 106.45.

7. Grievance Process Pool

The Formal Grievance Process relies on a pool of faculty and staff, and in some cases outside contractors, (“the Pool”) to carry out the process. Members of the Pool are announced in an annual distribution of this policy to all students, parents/guardians of students, employees, prospective students, and prospective employees.

The list of Pool members and a description of the Pool can be found at hopecollege.edu/titleix.

a. Pool Member Roles

Members of the Pool are trained annually, and can serve in in the following roles, at the direction of the EOC Coordinator:

  • To act as an Advisor to the parties
  • To serve in a facilitation role in informal resolution or Informal Resolution if appropriately trained in appropriate resolution modalities (e.g., mediation, restorative practices)
  • To investigate complaints
  • To serve as a hearing facilitator (Process administrator, no decision-making role)
  • To serve as a Decision-maker regarding the complaint
  • To serve as an Appeal Decision-maker 

b. Pool Member Appointment

The EOC Coordinator appoints the Pool, which acts with independence and impartiality. While members of the Pool are typically trained in a variety of skill sets and can rotate amongst the different roles listed above in different cases, Hope College can also designate permanent roles for individuals in the Pool, using others as substitutes or to provide greater depth of experience when necessary. This process of role assignment may be the result of particular skills, aptitudes, or talents identified in members of the Pool that make them best suited to particular roles.

c. Pool Member Training

The Pool members receive annual training based on their respective roles. This training includes, but is not limited to:

  • The scope of the Hope College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures
  • How to conduct investigations and hearings that protect the safety of Complainants and Respondents, and promote accountability
  • Implicit bias
  • Disparate treatment and impact 
  • Reporting, confidentiality, and privacy requirements
  • Applicable laws, regulations, and federal regulatory guidance
  • How to implement appropriate and situation-specific remedies
  • How to investigate in a thorough, reliable, and impartial manner
  • How to uphold fairness, equity, and due process
  • How to weigh evidence 
  • How to conduct questioning 
  • How to assess credibility
  • Impartiality and objectivity 
  • How to render findings and generate clear, concise, evidence-based rationales 
  • The definitions of all offenses 
  • How to apply definitions used by the Hope College with respect to consent (or the absence or negation of consent) consistently, impartially, and in accordance with policy 
  • How to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes 
  • How to serve impartially by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias 
  • Any technology to be used at a live hearing 
  • Issues of relevance of questions and evidence
  • Issues of relevance to create an investigation report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence
  • How to determine appropriate sanctions in reference to all forms of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation allegations

Specific training is also provided for Appeal Decision-makers, intake personnel, Advisors (who are Hope College employees), and Chairs. All Pool members are required to attend these trainings annually. The materials used to train all members of the Pool are publicly posted here: hope.edu/offices/title-ix/resources/index.html.

d. Pool Membership

The Pool typically includes:

  • At least 8-10 members of the staff
  • At least 8-10 members of the faculty

ERP pool members are usually appointed to a minimum of a three-year term, with the opportunity to serve consecutive terms if mutually agreed upon. Appointments to the pool should be made with attention to a broad representation of the campus community. Individuals who are interested in serving in the pool are encouraged to contact the EOC Coordinator.

8. Formal Grievance Process: Notice of Investigation and Allegations

The EOC Coordinator will provide written notice of the investigation and allegations (the “NOIA”) to the Respondent upon commencement of the Formal Grievance Process. This facilitates the Respondent’s ability to prepare for the interview and to identify and choose an Advisor to accompany them. The NOIA is also copied to the Complainant, who is to be given advance notice of when the NOIA will be delivered to the Respondent.

The NOIA will include:

  • A meaningful summary of all of allegations,
  • The identity of the involved parties (if known),
  • The precise misconduct being alleged, 
  • The date and location of the alleged incident(s) (if known), 
  • The specific policies implicated, 
  • A description of the applicable procedures, 
  • A statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result, 
  • A statement that Hope College presumes the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the evidence supports a different determination, 
  • A statement that determinations of responsibility are made at the conclusion of the Process and that the parties will be given an opportunity to inspect and review all directly related and/or relevant evidence obtained during the review and comment period, 
  • A statement about Hope College’s policy on retaliation,
  • Information about the privacy of the process,
  • Information on the need for each party to have an Advisor of their choosing and suggestions for ways to identify an Advisor, 
  • A statement informing the parties that Hope College’s Policy prohibits knowingly making false statements, including knowingly submitting false information during the resolution process,
  • Detail on how the party may request disability accommodations during the interview process,
  • A link to Hope College’s VAWA Brochure, 
  • The name(s) of the Investigator(s), along with a process to identify, in advance of the interview process, to the EOC Coordinator any conflict of interest that the Investigator(s) may have, and
  • An instruction to preserve any evidence that is directly related to the allegations.

Amendments and updates to the NOIA may be made as the investigation progresses and more information becomes available regarding the addition or dismissal of various charges.

Notice will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address(es) of the parties as indicated in official Hope College records, or emailed to the parties’ Hope College-issued email or designated accounts. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.

9. Resolution Timeline

Hope College will make a good faith effort to complete the resolution process within a ninety to one hundred twenty (90-120) business day time period, including appeal, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the EOC Coordinator, who will provide notice and rationale for any extensions or delays to the parties as appropriate, as well as an estimate of how much additional time will be needed to complete the process.

10. Appointment of Investigator(s)

Once the decision is made to commence a formal investigation, the EOC Coordinator typically appoints the Hope College Equal Opportunity and Title IX Investigator to conduct the investigation. However, if deemed necessary, it is also possible the EOC Coordinator could assign one of the following to the investigation: an outside contractor/attorney or a team of two members of the Pool. This will usually occur within two to five (2-5) business days of determining that an investigation should proceed.

11. Ensuring Impartiality

Any individual materially involved in the administration of the resolution process [including the EOC Coordinator, Investigator(s), and Decision-maker(s)] may neither have nor demonstrate a conflict of interest or bias for a party generally, or for a specific Complainant or Respondent.

The EOC Coordinator will vet the assigned Investigator(s) to ensure impartiality by ensuring there are no actual or apparent conflicts of interest or disqualifying biases. The parties may, at any time during the resolution process, raise a concern regarding bias or conflict of interest, and the EOC Coordinator will determine whether the concern is reasonable and supportable. If so, another Pool member will be assigned and the impact of the bias or conflict, if any, will be remedied. If the source of the conflict of interest or bias is the EOC Coordinator, concerns should be raised with the Hope College President or designee.

The Formal Grievance Process involves an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence obtained, including evidence which supports that the Respondent engaged in a policy violation and evidence which supports that the Respondent did not engage in a policy violation. Credibility determinations may not be based solely on an individual’s status or participation as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness.

Hope College operates with the presumption that the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the Respondent is determined to be responsible for a policy violation by the preponderance of the evidence.

12. Investigation Timeline

Investigations are completed expeditiously, normally within thirty (30) business days, though some investigations may take weeks or even months, depending on the nature, extent, and complexity of the allegations, availability of witnesses, police involvement, etc.

Hope College will make a good faith effort to complete investigations as promptly as circumstances permit and will communicate regularly with the parties to update them on the progress and timing of the investigation.

13. Delays in the Investigation Process and Interactions with Law Enforcement

Hope College may undertake a short delay in its investigation (several days to a few weeks) if circumstances require. Such circumstances include, but are not limited to: a request from law enforcement to temporarily delay the investigation, the need for language assistance, the absence of parties and/or witnesses, and/or accommodations for disabilities or health conditions.

Hope College will communicate in writing the anticipated duration of the delay and reason to the parties and provide the parties with status updates if necessary. Hope College will promptly resume its investigation and resolution Process as soon as feasible. During such a delay, Hope College will implement supportive measures as deemed appropriate.

Hope College action(s) are not typically altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the underlying incident(s) have been filed or that criminal charges have been dismissed or reduced.

14. Steps in the Investigation Process

All investigations are thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt, and fair. Investigations involve interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses; obtaining available, relevant evidence; and identifying sources of expert information, as necessary.

All parties have a full and fair opportunity, through the investigation process, to suggest witnesses and questions, to provide evidence and expert witnesses, and to fully review and respond to all evidence on the record.

The Investigator(s) typically take(s) the following steps, if not already completed (not necessarily in this order):

  • Determine the identity and contact information of the Complainant
  • In coordination with campus partners (e.g., the EOC Coordinator), initiate or assist with any necessary supportive measures 
  • Identify all policies implicated by the alleged misconduct and notify the Complainant and Respondent of all of the specific policies implicated
  • Assist the EOC Coordinator with conducting a prompt initial assessment to determine if the allegations indicate a potential policy violation 
  • Commence a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation by identifying issues and developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended investigation timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the parties
  • Meet with the Complainant to finalize their interview/statement, if necessary 
  • Prepare the initial Notice of Investigation and Allegation (NOIA). The NOIA may be amended with any additional or dismissed allegations 
    • Notice should inform the parties of their right to have the assistance of an Advisor, who could be a member of the Pool or an Advisor of their choosing present for all meetings attended by the party 
  • Provide each interviewed party and witness an opportunity to review and verify the Investigator’s summary notes (or transcript) of the relevant evidence/testimony from their respective interviews and meetings
  • Make good faith efforts to notify the parties of any meeting or interview involving the other party, in advance when possible 
  • When participation of a party is expected, provide that party with written notice of the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as the expected participants and purpose 
  • Interview all available, relevant witnesses and conduct follow-up interviews as necessary
  • Allow each party the opportunity to suggest witnesses and questions they wish the Investigator(s) to ask of the other party and witnesses, and document in the report which questions were asked, with a rationale for any changes or omissions. 
  • Complete the investigation promptly and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline
  • Provide regular status updates to the parties throughout the investigation.
  • Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) with a list of witnesses whose information will be used to render a finding
  • Write a comprehensive investigation report fairly summarizing the investigation; all witness interviews, and addressing all relevant evidence. Appendices including relevant physical or documentary evidence will be included 
  • The Investigator(s) gather, assess, and synthesize evidence, but make no conclusions, engage in no policy analysis, and render no recommendations as part of their report
  • Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) a secured electronic or hard copy of the draft investigation report as well as an opportunity to inspect and review all of the evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the reported misconduct, including evidence upon which the Hope College does not intend to rely in reaching a determination, for a ten (10) business day review and comment period so that each party may meaningfully respond to the evidence. The parties may elect to waive the full ten days. 
  • The Investigator(s) may elect to respond in writing in the investigation report to the parties’ submitted responses and/or to share the responses between the parties for additional responses
  • The Investigator(s) will incorporate relevant elements of the parties’ written responses into the final investigation report, include any additional relevant evidence, make any necessary revisions, and finalize the report. The Investigator(s) should document all rationales for any changes made after the review and comment period
  • The Investigator(s) shares the report with the EOC Coordinator and/or legal counsel for their review and feedback
  • The Investigator will incorporate any relevant feedback, and the final report is then shared with all parties and their Advisors through secure electronic transmission or hard copy at least ten (10) business days prior to a hearing. The parties are also provided with a file of any directly related evidence that was not included in the report 

15. Role and Participation of Witnesses in the Investigation

Witnesses (as distinguished from the parties) who are employees of Hope College are expected to cooperate with and participate in Hope College’s investigation and resolution process.

While in-person interviews for parties and all potential witnesses are ideal, circumstances (e.g., study abroad, summer break) may require individuals to be interviewed remotely. Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WebEx, or similar technologies may be used for interviews if the Investigator(s) determine that timeliness or efficiency dictate a need for remote interviewing. Hope College will take appropriate steps to reasonably ensure the security/privacy of remote interviews.

16. Recording of Interviews

No unauthorized audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during investigation meetings. If Investigator(s) elect to audio and/or video record interviews, all involved parties must be made aware of audio and/or video recording.

17. Evidentiary Considerations in the Investigation

The investigation does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) the character of the parties; or 3) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior 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.

18. Referral for Hearing

Provided that the complaint is not resolved through Informal Resolution, once the final investigation report is shared with the parties, the EOC Coordinator will refer the matter for a hearing.

The hearing cannot be less than ten (10) business days from the conclusion of the investigation –when the final investigation report is transmitted to the parties and the Decision-maker–unless all parties and the Decision-maker agree to an expedited timeline.

The EOC Coordinator will select appropriate Decision-makers from the Pool depending on whether the Respondent is an employee or a student. Allegations involving student-employees will be directed to the appropriate Decision-maker depending on the context of the alleged misconduct.

19. Hearing Decision-maker Composition

Hope College will designate a single Decision-maker or a three-member panel from the Pool, at the discretion of the EOC Coordinator. The single Decision-maker will also Chair the hearing. With a panel, one of the three members will be appointed as Chair by the EOC Coordinator.

The Decision-maker(s) will not have had any previous involvement with the investigation. The EOC Coordinator may elect to have an alternate from the Pool sit in throughout the resolution process in the event that a substitute is needed for any reason.

The investigator(s) will be a witness in the hearing and therefore may not serve as a Decision-maker. Those who are serving as Advisors for any party may not serve as Decision-makers in that matter.

The EOC Coordinator may not serve as a Decision-maker or Chair in the matter but may serve as an administrative facilitator of the hearing if their previous role(s) in the matter do not create a conflict of interest. Otherwise, a designee may fulfill this role. The hearing will convene at a time determined by the administrative facilitator or designee.

20. Evidentiary Considerations in the Hearing 

Any evidence that the Decision-maker(s) determine(s) is relevant may be considered. The hearing does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) the character of the parties; or 3) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior 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.

Previous disciplinary action of any kind involving the Respondent may be considered in determining an appropriate sanction upon a determination of responsibility, as Hope College uses a progressive discipline system. This information is only considered at the sanction stage of the process.

The parties may each submit a written impact statement prior to the hearing for the consideration of the Decision-maker(s) at the sanction stage of the process when a determination of responsibility is reached.

After post-hearing deliberation, the Decision-maker(s) renders a determination based on the preponderance of the evidence; whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Policy as alleged.

21. Notice of Hearing 

No less than ten (10) business days prior to the hearing, the EOC Coordinator or the Chair will send notice of the hearing to the parties. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.

The notice will contain:

  • A description of the alleged violation(s), a list of all policies allegedly violated a description of the applicable procedures, and a statement of the potential sanctions /responsive actions that could result.
  • The time, date, and location of the hearing and a reminder that attendance is mandatory, superseding all other campus activities. 
  • Any technology that will be used to facilitate the hearing.
  • Information about the option for the live hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms using technology that enables the Decision-maker(s) and parties to see and hear a party or witness answering questions. Such a request must be raised with the EOC Coordinator at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing.
  • A list of all those who will attend the hearing, along with an invitation to object to any Decision-maker on the basis of demonstrated bias. This must be raised with the EOC Coordinator at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
  • Information on how the hearing will be recorded and on access to the recording for the parties after the hearing.
  • A statement that if any party or witness does not appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearing may be held in their absence and the party’s or witness’s testimony and any statements given prior to the hearing will not be considered by the Decision-maker(s). For compelling reasons, the Chair, working with the administrative facilitator, may reschedule the hearing. 
  • Notification that the parties may have the assistance of an Advisor of their choosing at the hearing and will be required to have one present for any questions they may desire to ask. The party must notify the EOC Coordinator if they do not have an Advisor, and Hope College will appoint one. Each party must have an Advisor present. There are no exceptions. 
  • A copy of all the materials provided to the Decision-maker(s) about the matter, unless they have been provided already. [19]
  • An invitation to each party to submit to the Chair an impact statement pre-hearing that the Decision-maker will review during any sanction determination.
  • An invitation to contact the EOC Coordinator to arrange any disability accommodations, language assistance, and/or interpretation services that may be needed at the hearing, at least seven (7) business days prior to the hearing. 
  • Notification that parties can bring mobile phones/devices into the hearing, so long as they are turned off/not a distraction.

Hearings for possible violations that occur near or after the end of an academic term (assuming the Respondent is still subject to this Policy) and are unable to be resolved prior to the end of term will typically be held immediately after the end of the term or during the summer, as needed, to meet the resolution timeline followed by Hope College and remain within the 60-90 business day goal for resolution.

In these cases, if the Respondent is a graduating student, a hold may be placed on graduation and/or official transcripts until the matter are fully resolved (including any appeal). A student facing charges under this Policy is not in good standing to graduate.

22. Alternative Hearing Participation Options 

If a party or parties prefer not to attend or cannot attend the hearing in person, the party should request alternative arrangements from the EOC Coordinator at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing.

The EOC Coordinator or designee can arrange to use technology to allow remote testimony without compromising the fairness of the hearing. Remote options may also be needed for witnesses who cannot appear in person. Any witness who cannot attend in person should let the EOC Coordinator know at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

23. Pre-Hearing Preparation

The Chair or EOC Coordinator, after any necessary consultation with the parties and Investigator(s), will provide the names of persons who will be participating in the hearing, all pertinent documentary evidence, and the final investigation report to the parties at least ten (10) business days prior to the hearing.

Any witness scheduled to participate in the hearing must have been first interviewed by the Investigator(s), unless all parties and the Chair assent to the witness’s participation in the hearing. The same holds for any evidence that is first offered at the hearing. If the parties and Chair do not assent to the admission of evidence newly offered at the hearing, the Chair will delay the hearing and instruct that the investigation needs to be re-opened to consider that evidence.

The parties will be given a list of the names of the Decision-maker(s) at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. All objections to any Decision-maker must be raised in writing, detailing the rationale for the objection, and must be submitted to the EOC Coordinator as soon as possible and no later than two days prior to the hearing. Decision-makers will only be removed if the EOC Coordinator concludes that their bias or conflict of interest precludes an impartial hearing of the allegation(s).

The EOC Coordinator will give the Decision-maker(s) a list of the names of all parties, witnesses, and Advisors at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. Any Decision-maker who cannot make an objective determination must recuse themselves from the proceedings when notified of the identity of the parties, witnesses, and Advisors in advance of the hearing. If a Decision-maker is unsure of whether a bias or conflict of interest exists, they must raise the concern to the EOC Coordinator as soon as possible.

During the ten (10) business day period prior to the hearing, the parties have the opportunity for continued review and comment on the final investigation report and available evidence. That review and comment can be shared with the Chair at the pre-hearing meeting or at the hearing and will be exchanged between each party by the Chair.

24. Pre-Hearing Meetings

The Chair may convene a pre-hearing meeting(s) with the parties and/or their Advisors to invite them to submit the questions or topics they (the parties and/or their Advisors) wish to ask or discuss at the hearing, so that the Chair can rule on their relevance ahead of time to avoid any improper evidentiary introduction in the hearing or provide recommendations for more appropriate phrasing. However, this advance review opportunity does not preclude the Advisors from asking at the hearing for a reconsideration based on any new information or testimony offered at the hearing. The Chair must document and share their rationale for any exclusion or inclusion at this pre-hearing meeting.

The Chair, only with full agreement of the parties, may decide in advance of the hearing that certain witnesses do not need to be present if their testimony can be adequately summarized by the Investigator(s) in the investigation report or during the hearing.

At each pre-hearing meeting with a party and their Advisor, the Chair will consider arguments that evidence identified in the final investigation report as relevant is, in fact, not relevant. Similarly, evidence identified as directly related but not relevant by the Investigator(s) may be argued to be relevant. The Chair may decide on these arguments pre-hearing and will share decisions between the parties prior to the hearing to assist in preparation for the hearing. The Chair may consult with legal counsel and/or the EOC Coordinator, or ask either or both to attend pre-hearing meetings.

The pre-hearing meeting(s) will not be recorded, unless deemed necessary by the chair and with consent of the parties.

25. Hearing Procedures

At the hearing, the Decision-maker(s) has the authority to hear and make determinations on all allegations of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation and may also hear and make determinations on any additional alleged policy violations that have occurred in concert with the discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation, even though those collateral allegations may not specifically fall within the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination.

Participants at the hearing will include the Chair, any additional panelists, the hearing facilitator, the Investigator(s) who conducted the investigation, the parties (or three (3) organizational representatives when an organization is the Respondent), Advisors to the parties, any called witnesses, potentially a hearing facilitator and/or the EOC Coordinator and anyone providing authorized accommodations or assistive services.

The Chair will answer all questions of procedure. Anyone appearing at the hearing to provide information will respond to questions on their own behalf.

The Chair will allow witnesses who have relevant information to appear at a portion of the hearing in order to respond to specific questions from the Decision-maker(s) and the parties and will then be excused.

26. Joint Hearings

In hearings involving more than one Respondent or in which two (2) or more Complainants have accused the same individual of substantially similar conduct; the default procedure will be to hear the allegations jointly.

However, the EOC Coordinator may permit the investigation and/or hearings pertinent to each Respondent to be conducted separately if there is a compelling reason to do so. In joint hearings, separate determinations of responsibility will be made for each Respondent with respect to each alleged policy violation.

27. The Order of the Hearing – Introductions and Explanation of Procedure

The Chair explains the procedures and introduces the participants. This may include a final opportunity for challenge or recusal of the Decision-maker(s) on the basis of bias or conflict of interest. The Chair will rule on any such challenge unless the Chair is the individual who is the subject of the challenge, in which case the EOC Coordinator will review and decide the challenge.

The Chair conducts the hearing according to the hearing script. At the hearing, recording, witness logistics, party logistics, curation of documents, separation of the parties, and other administrative elements of the hearing Process are managed by a non-voting hearing facilitator appointed by the EOC Coordinator. The hearing facilitator, who could be the EOC Coordinator, may attend to: logistics of rooms for various parties/witnesses as they wait; flow of parties/witnesses in and out of the hearing space; ensuring recording and/or virtual conferencing technology is working as intended; copying and distributing materials to participants, as appropriate, etc.

28. Investigator Presents the Final Investigation Report

The Investigator(s) will then present a summary of the final investigation report, including items that are contested and those that are not, and will be subject to questioning by the Decision-maker(s) and the parties (through their Advisors). The Investigator(s) will be present during the entire hearing process, but not during deliberations.

Neither the parties nor the Decision-maker(s) should ask the Investigator(s) their opinions on credibility, recommended findings, or determinations, and the Investigators, Advisors, and parties will refrain from discussion of or questions about these assessments. If such information is introduced, the Chair will direct that it be disregarded.

29. Testimony and Questioning

Once the Investigator(s) present their report and are questioned, the parties and witnesses may provide relevant information in turn, beginning with the Complainant, and then in the order determined by the Chair. The parties/witnesses will submit to questioning by the Decision-maker(s) and then by the parties through their Advisors (“cross-examination”).

All questions are subject to a relevance determination by the Chair. The Advisor, who will remain seated during questioning, will pose the proposed question orally, electronically, or in writing (orally is the default, but other means of submission may be permitted by the Chair upon request or agreed to by the parties and the Chair), the proceeding will pause to allow the Chair to consider it, and the Chair will determine whether the question will be permitted, disallowed, or rephrased.

The Chair may explore arguments regarding relevance with the Advisors, if the Chair so chooses. The Chair will then state their decision on the question for the record and advise the party/witness to whom the question was directed, accordingly. The Chair will explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant, or to reframe it for relevance.

The Chair will limit or disallow questions on the basis that they are irrelevant, unduly repetitious (and thus irrelevant), or abusive. The Chair has final say on all questions and determinations of relevance, subject to any appeal. The Chair may consult with legal counsel on any questions of admissibility. The Chair may ask advisors to frame why a question is or is not relevant from their perspective but will not entertain argument from the advisors on relevance once the Chair has ruled on a question.

If the parties raise an issue of bias or conflict of interest of an Investigator or Decision-maker at the hearing, the Chair may elect to address those issues, consult with legal counsel, and/or refer them to the EOC Coordinator, and/or preserve them for appeal. If bias is not in issue at the hearing, the Chair should not permit irrelevant questions that probe for bias.

30. Refusal to Submit to Cross-Examination and Inferences

If a party or witness chooses not to submit to cross-examination at the hearing, either because they do not attend the meeting, or they attend but refuse to participate in questioning, then the Decision-maker(s) may not rely on any prior statement made by that party or witness at the hearing (including those contained in the investigation report) in the ultimate determination of responsibility. The Decision-maker(s) must disregard that statement. Evidence provided that is something other than a statement by the party or witness may be considered.

If the party or witness attends the hearing and answers some cross-examination questions, only statements related to the cross-examination questions they refuse to answer cannot be relied upon. However, if the statements of the party who is refusing to submit to cross-examination or refuses to attend the hearing are the subject of the allegation itself (e.g., the case is about verbal harassment or a quid pro quo offer), then those statements are not precluded from admission.

The Decision-maker(s) may not draw any inference solely from a party’s or witness’s absence from the hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.

If charges of policy violations other than sexual harassment are considered at the same hearing, the Decision-maker(s) may consider all evidence it deems relevant, may rely on any relevant statement as long as the opportunity for cross-examination is afforded to all parties through their Advisors, and may draw reasonable inferences from any decision by any party or witness not to participate or respond to questions.

If a party’s Advisor of choice refuses to comply with Hope College’s established rules of decorum for the hearing, Hope College may require the party to use a different Advisor. If a Hope College-provided Advisor refuses to comply with the rules of decorum, Hope College may provide that party with a different Advisor to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party.

31. Recording Hearings

Hearings (but not deliberations) are recorded by Hope College for purposes of review in the event of an appeal. The parties may not record the proceedings and no other unauthorized recordings are permitted.

The Decision-maker(s), the parties, their Advisors, and appropriate administrators of Hope College will be permitted to listen to the recording in a controlled environment determined by the EOC Coordinator.

32. Deliberation, Decision-making, and Standard of Proof

The Decision-maker(s) will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question. If a panel is used, a simple majority vote is required to determine the finding. The preponderance of the evidence standard of proof is used. The hearing facilitator may be invited to attend the deliberation by the Chair, but is there only to facilitate procedurally, not to address the substance of the allegations.

When there is a finding of responsibility on one or more of the allegations, the Decision-maker(s) may then consider the previously submitted party impact statements in determining appropriate sanction(s).

The Chair will ensure that each of the parties has an opportunity to review any impact statement submitted by the other party(ies). The Decision-maker(s) may – at their discretion – consider the statements, but they are not binding.

The Decision-maker(s) will review the statements and any pertinent conduct history provided by the EOC Coordinator and will determine the appropriate sanction(s) for students. For employees, the Decision-maker(s) will recommend the appropriate sanction(s), in consultation with other appropriate administrators (such as the Director of Human Resources and/or the Provost).

The Chair will then prepare a written deliberation statement and deliver it to the EOC Coordinator, detailing the determination, rationale, the evidence used in support of its determination, the evidence disregarded, credibility assessments, and any sanctions or recommendations.

33. Notice of Outcome

The Notice of Outcome will then be shared with the parties simultaneously. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official Hope College records, or emailed to the parties’ Hope College-issued email or otherwise approved account. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.

The Notice of Outcome will identify the specific policy(ies) reported to have been violated, including the relevant policy section, and will contain a description of the procedural steps taken by the Hope College from the receipt of the misconduct report to the determination, including any and all notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to obtain evidence, and hearings held.

The Notice of Outcome will specify the finding on each alleged policy violation; the findings of fact that support the determination; conclusions regarding the application of the relevant policy to the facts at issue; a statement of, and rationale for, the result of each allegation to the extent the Hope College is permitted to share such information under state or federal law; any sanctions issued which Hope College is permitted to share according to state or federal law; and any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to ensure access to Hope College’s educational or employment program or activity, to the extent Hope College is permitted to share such information under state or federal law (this detail is not typically shared with the Respondent unless the remedy directly relates to the Respondent).

The Notice of Outcome will also include information on when the results are considered by Hope College to be final, any changes that occur prior to finalization, and the relevant procedures and bases for any available appeal options.

34. Statement of the Rights of the Parties (see Appendix C)

35. Sanctions

Factors considered when determining a sanction/responsive action may include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature, severity of, and circumstances surrounding the violation(s) 
  • The Respondent’s disciplinary history 
  • Previous allegations or allegations involving similar conduct 
  • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to bring an end to the discrimination, 
    harassment, and/or retaliation
  • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to prevent the future recurrence of 
    discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation
  • The need to remedy the effects of the discrimination, harassment, and/or 
    Retaliation on the Complainant and the community
  • The impact on the parties
  • Any other information deemed relevant by the Decision-maker(s)

The sanctions will be implemented as soon as is feasible, either upon the outcome of any appeal or the expiration of the window to appeal without an appeal being requested.

The sanctions described in this policy are not exclusive of, and may be in addition to, other actions taken or sanctions imposed by external authorities.

a. Student Sanctions 

The following are the usual sanctions that may be imposed upon students or organizations singly or in combination:

Primary sanctions include:

  • Letter of Warning: An official letter of warning is placed in the student’s judicial file.
  • Probation Level I: Probation set for a specific length of time. If an individual is found in violation of any College policy during that time, a more serious sanction will be imposed.
  • Probation Level II: Probation set for a specific length of time. Students on Probation Level II may be removed from leadership positions in student organizations. Any student found in violation of this level of probation will have a more serious sanction imposed, usually Withheld Suspension. Students on Probation Level II may not be permitted to participate in College-affiliated travel (e.g., Spring Break Immersion Trips, study abroad experiences, etc.) and/or leadership positions in Registered Student and/or Greek Letter Organizations.
  • Withheld Suspension: Withheld Suspension is for a specific period of time. Students on Withheld Suspension may be immediately suspended from the College if the student is involved with a violation of any College policy during the stated period of time. This is the most serious sanction short of suspension. Students on Withheld Suspension may not be permitted to participate in College-affiliated travel (e.g., Spring Break Immersion Trips, study abroad experiences, etc.) and/or leadership positions in Registered Student and/or Greek Letter Organizations.
  • Suspension: A set length of time when an individual may not be involved in any aspect of the college. This includes courses, housing, and campus activities. A student may apply for readmission at the end of the suspension period. 
  • Expulsion: A student is dismissed from the College permanently.

Supplemental Sanctions (to be used in addition to primary sanctions):

  • Educational Sanction: The decision-makers may decide to issue a sanction, within reason, that will be beneficial in assisting the student to understand the impact of their behavior on the community. This may include but is not limited to: 
    • Writing a research paper or reflective piece relevant to the violation.
    • Meeting with a faculty or staff member to discuss items relevant to the violation.
    • Develop an action plan to deter further violations.
    • Develop a program or publicity campaign relevant to the violation.
  • Withheld Removal from Housing: This sanction means that if a student is involved in a violation of any college policy during the stated period of time, he/she may be immediately removed from college housing. 
  • Housing: A student’s current and future housing status may be changed if such an action is deemed beneficial for either the college or the student. 
  • Referral for Assessment: This could include, but not be limited to, behavioral, psychological, or substance use assessments. 

b. Employee Sanctions

Responsive actions for an employee who has engaged in harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation include:

  • Warning – Verbal or Written
  • Performance Improvement/Management Process
  • Required Counseling 
  • Required Training or Education
  • Probation
  • Loss of Annual Pay Increase
  • Loss of Oversight or Supervisory Responsibility
  • Demotion
  • Suspension with pay
  • Suspension without pay 
  • Termination
  • Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions, Hope College may assign any other sanctions as deemed appropriate.

36. Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges Pending 

Students: If a student has an allegation pending for violation of the Policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination, Hope College may place a hold on a student’s ability to graduate and/or to receive an official transcript/diploma.

Should a student decide to not participate in the resolution process, the process proceeds absent their participation to a reasonable resolution? Should a student Respondent permanently withdraw from Hope College, the resolution process ends, as Hope College no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the withdrawn student?

However, Hope College will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues, variables that may have contributed to the alleged violation(s), and any ongoing effects of the alleged harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation. The student who withdraws or leaves while the process is pending may not return to Hope College. A hold will be placed on their ability to be readmitted. They may also be barred from Hope College property and/or events.

If the student Respondent only withdraws or takes a leave for a specified period of time (e.g., one semester or term), the resolution process may continue remotely and that student is not permitted to return to Hope College unless and until all sanctions have been satisfied.

During the resolution process, Hope College may put a hold on a responding student’s transcript due to the pending disciplinary matter.

Employees: Should an employee Respondent resign with unresolved allegations pending, the resolution process ends, as Hope College no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the resigned employee.

However, Hope College will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues, variables that contributed to the alleged violation(s), and any ongoing effects of the alleged harassment or discrimination.

The employee who resigns with unresolved allegations pending is not eligible for rehire with Hope College, and the records retained by the EOC Coordinator will reflect that status.

All Hope College responses to future inquiries regarding employment references for that individual will include that the former employee resigned during a pending disciplinary matter.

37. Appeals

Any party may file a request for appeal (“Request for Appeal”), but it must be submitted in writing to the EOC Coordinator within 5 business days of the delivery of the Notice of Outcome.

A three-member appeal panel chosen from the Pool will be designated by the EOC Coordinator. No appeal panelists will have been involved in the process previously, including any dismissal appeal that may have been heard earlier in the process. A voting Chair of the Appeal panel will be designated.

The Request for Appeal will be forwarded to the Appeal Chair for consideration to determine if the request meets the grounds for appeal (a Review for Standing).

This review is not a review of the merits of the appeal, but solely a determination as to whether the request meets the grounds and is timely filed.

a. Grounds for Appeal

Appeals are limited to the following grounds:

  • Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
  • New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter; 
  • The EOC Coordinator, Investigator(s), or Decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the specific Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter; and
  • The sanctions imposed fall outside the range of sanctions that Hope College has designated for this offense and the cumulative record of the Respondent. 

If any of the grounds in the Request for Appeal do not meet the grounds in this Policy, that request will be denied by the Chair and the parties and their Advisors will be notified in writing of the denial and the rationale.

If any of the grounds in the Request for Appeal meet the grounds in this Policy, then the EOC Coordinator or Chair will notify the other party(ies) and their Advisors and, when appropriate, the Investigators and/or the original Decision-maker(s).

The other party(ies) and their Advisors and, when appropriate, the Investigators and/or the original Decision-maker(s) will be mailed, emailed, and/or provided a hard copy of the request with the approved grounds and then be given three (3) business days to submit a response to the portion of the appeal that was approved and involves them. All responses will be forwarded by the EOC Coordinator or Chair to all parties for review and comment.

The non-appealing party (if any) may also choose to raise a new ground for appeal at this time. If so, that will be reviewed for standing by the Appeal Chair and either denied or approved. If approved, it will be forwarded to the party who initially requested an appeal, the Investigator(s) and/or original Decision-maker(s), as necessary, who will submit their responses in three (3) business days, which will be circulated for review and comment by all parties.

Neither party may submit any new requests for appeal after this time period. The Appeal Chair will collect any additional information needed and all documentation regarding the approved grounds and the subsequent responses will be shared with the Appeal Panel, and the Panel will render a decision in no more than three (3) to five (5) business days, barring exigent circumstances. All decisions are by majority vote and apply the preponderance of the evidence standard.

A Notice of Appeal Outcome will be sent to all parties simultaneously including the decision on each approved ground and rationale for each decision. The Notice of Appeal Outcome will specify the finding on each ground for appeal, any specific instructions for remand or reconsideration, any sanctions that may result which Hope College is permitted to share according to state or federal law, and the rationale supporting the essential findings to the extent Hope College is permitted to share under state or federal law.

Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official institutional records, or emailed to the parties’ Hope College-issued email or otherwise approved account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.

b. Sanctions Status during the Appeal

Sanctions imposed as a result of the hearing will not be in effect during the appeal process. Supportive measures may be reinstated, subject to the same supportive measure procedures above.

If any of the sanctions are to be implemented immediately post-hearing, then emergency removal procedures (detailed above) for a hearing on the justification for doing so must be permitted within 48 hours of implementation.

Hope College may still place holds on official transcripts, diplomas, graduations, and course registration pending the outcome of an appeal when the original sanctions included separation.

c. Appeal Considerations

  • Decisions on appeal are to be deferential to the original decision, making changes to the finding only when there is clear error and to the sanction(s)/responsive action(s) only if there is a compelling justification to do so.
  • Appeals are not intended to provide for a full re-hearing (de novo) of the allegation(s). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing and pertinent documentation regarding the specific grounds for appeal. 
  • An appeal is not an opportunity for Appeal Decision-makers to substitute their judgment for that of the original Decision-maker(s) merely because they disagree with the finding and/or sanction(s). 
  • The Appeal Chair/Panel may consult with the EOC Coordinator on questions of procedure or rationale, for clarification, if needed. Documentation of all such consultation will be maintained.
  • Appeals granted based on new evidence should normally be remanded to the original Investigator(s) and/or Decision-maker(s) for reconsideration. Other appeals may be remanded at the discretion of the EOC Coordinator or, in limited circumstances, decided on appeal.
  • Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final: further appeals are not permitted, even if a decision or sanction is changed (except in the case of a new hearing). 
  • In rare cases where a procedural error cannot be cured by the original Decision-maker(s) (as in cases of bias), the appeal may order a new hearing with a new Decision-maker(s). 
  • Results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on any of the three available appeal grounds. 
  • In cases in which the appeal results in reinstatement to Hope College or resumption of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the Respondent to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irreparable in the short term.

38. Long-Term Remedies/Other Actions

Following the conclusion of the resolution process, and in addition to any sanctions implemented, the EOC Coordinator may implement additional long-term remedies or actions with respect to the parties and/or the campus community that are intended to stop the harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation, remedy the effects, and prevent reoccurrence.

These remedies/actions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Referral to counseling and health services
  • Referral to the Employee Assistance Program
  • Education to the individual and/or the community 
  • Permanent alteration of housing assignments
  • Permanent alteration of work arrangements for employees
  • Provision of campus safety escorts
  • Climate surveys
  • Policy modification and/or training
  • Provision of transportation accommodations 
  • Implementation of long-term contact limitations between the parties
  • Implementation of adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc. 

At the discretion of the EOC Coordinator, certain long-term support or measures may also be provided to the parties even if no policy violation is found.

When no policy violation is found, the EOC Coordinator will address any remedies owed by Hope College to the Respondent to ensure no effective denial of educational access.

Hope College will maintain the privacy of any long-term remedies/actions/measures, provided privacy does not impair Hope College’s ability to provide these services.

39. Failure to Comply with Sanctions and/or Interim and Long-term Remedies and/or Responsive Actions

All Respondents are expected to comply with the assigned sanctions, responsive actions, and/or corrective actions within the timeframe specified by the final Decision-maker(s) (including the Appeal Panel).

Failure to abide by the sanction(s)/action(s) imposed by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect, or any other reason, may result in additional sanction(s)/action(s), including suspension, expulsion, and/or termination from Hope College.

A suspension will only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the EOC Coordinator.

40. Recordkeeping 

Hope College will maintain for a period of at least seven years records of:

  1. Each sexual harassment investigation including any determination regarding responsibility and any audio or audiovisual recording or transcript required under federal regulation;
  2. Any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the Respondent; 
  3. Any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to restore or preserve equal access to Hope College’s education program or activity;
  4. Any appeal and the result therefrom;
  5. Any Informal Resolution and the result therefrom; 
  6. All materials used to train EOC Coordinators, Investigators, Decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an Informal Resolution process. Hope College will make these training materials publicly available on Hope College’s website; and
  7. Any actions, including any supportive measures, taken in response to a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, including:
    1. The basis for all conclusions that the response was not deliberately indifferent; 
    2. Any measures designed to restore or preserve equal access to Hope College’s education program or activity; and 
    3. If no supportive measures were provided to the Complainant, document the reasons why such a response was not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances. 

Hope College will also maintain any and all records in accordance with state and federal laws.

APPENDIX C – STATEMENT OF RIGHTS OF THE PARTIES

  • The right to an equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of prohibited harassment or discrimination made in good faith to Hope College officials.

  • The right to timely written notice of all alleged violations, including the identity of the parties involved (if known), the precise misconduct being alleged, the date and location of the alleged misconduct (if known), the implicated policies and procedures, and possible sanctions.
  • The right to timely written notice of any material adjustments to the allegations (e.g., additional incidents or allegations, additional Complainants, unsubstantiated allegations) and any attendant adjustments needed to clarify potentially implicated policy violations.

  • The right to be informed in advance of any public release of information regarding the allegation(s) or underlying incident(s), whenever possible.

  • The right not to have any personally identifiable information released to the public without consent provided, except to the extent permitted by law.

  • The right to be treated with respect by Hope College officials.

  • The right to have Hope College policies and procedures followed without material deviation.

  • The right not to be pressured to mediate or otherwise informally resolve any reported misconduct involving violence, including sexual violence.

  • The right not to be discouraged by Hope College officials from reporting sexual misconduct or discrimination to both on-campus and off-campus authorities.

  • The right to be informed by Hope College officials of options to notify proper law enforcement authorities, including on-campus and local police, and the option(s) to be assisted by Hope College authorities in notifying such authorities, if the party so chooses. This also includes the right not to be pressured to report, as well.

  • The right to have allegations of violations of this Policy responded to promptly and with sensitivity by Hope College Campus Safety and/or other Hope College officials.

  • The right to be informed of available interim actions and supportive measures, such as counseling; advocacy; health care; student financial aid; or other services, both on campus and in the community.

  • The right to a Hope College-implemented no-contact order [or a no-trespass order against a non-affiliated third party] when a person has engaged in or threatens to engage in stalking, threatening, harassing, or other improper conduct that presents a danger to the welfare of the party or others.

  • The right to be informed of available assistance in changing academic, living, and/or working situations after an alleged incident of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation, if such changes are reasonably available. No formal report, or investigation, either campus or criminal, needs to occur before this option is available. Such actions may include, but are not limited to:
    • Relocating an on-campus student’s housing to a different on-campus location
    • Changing an employee’s work environment (e.g., reporting structure, office/workspace relocation)
    • Transferring class sections
    • Campus safety escorts
    • Alternative course completion options.

  • The right to have Hope College maintain such actions for as long as necessary and for supportive measures to remain private, provided privacy does not impair the Hope College’s ability to provide the supportive measures.

  • The right to receive sufficiently advanced, written notice of any meeting or interview involving the other party, when possible.

  • The right to ask the Investigator(s) and Decision-maker(s) to identify and question relevant witnesses, including expert witnesses.

  • The right to provide the Investigator(s)/Decision-maker(s) with a list of questions that, if deemed relevant by the Investigator(s)/Chair, may be asked of any party or witness.

  • The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history or character admitted as evidence.

  • The right to know the relevant and directly related evidence obtained and to respond to that evidence.

  • The right to fair opportunity to provide the Investigator(s) with their account of the alleged misconduct and have that account be on the record.

  • The right to receive a copy of the investigation report, including all factual, policy, and/or credibility analyses performed, and all relevant and directly related evidence available and used to produce the investigation report, subject to the privacy limitations imposed by state and federal law, prior to the hearing, and the right to have at least ten (10) business days to review the report prior to the hearing.

  • The right to respond to the investigation report, including comments providing any additional relevant evidence after the opportunity to review the investigation report, and to have that response on the record.

  • The right to be informed of the names of all witnesses whose information will be used to make a finding, in advance of that finding, when relevant.

  • The right to regular updates on the status of the investigation and/or resolution.

  • The right to have reports of alleged Policy violations addressed by Investigators, EOCC Coordinators, and Decision-maker(s) who have received relevant required training.

  • The right to preservation of privacy, to the extent possible and permitted by law.

  • The right to meetings, interviews, and/or hearings that are closed to the public.

  • The right to petition that any Hope College representative in the process be recused on the basis of disqualifying bias and/or conflict of interest.

  • The right to have an Advisor of their choice to accompany and assist the party in all meetings and/or interviews associated with the resolution process.

  • The right to the use of the appropriate standard of evidence, preponderance of the evidence, to make a finding after an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence.

  • The right to be present, including presence via remote technology, during all testimony given and evidence presented during any formal grievance hearing.

  • The right to have an impact statement considered by the Decision-maker(s) following a determination of responsibility for any allegation, but prior to sanctioning.

  • The right to be promptly informed in a written Notice of Outcome letter of the finding(s) and sanction(s) in Process B and a detailed rationale therefore (including an explanation of how credibility was assessed), delivered simultaneously (without undue delay) to the parties.

  • The right to be informed in writing of when a decision by Hope College is considered final and any changes to the sanction(s) that occur before the decision is finalized.

  • The right to be informed of the opportunity to appeal the finding(s) and sanction(s) of the resolution process, and the procedures for doing so in accordance with the standards for appeal established by Hope College.

  • The right to a fundamentally fair resolution as defined in these procedures.

This Policy was adapted from the ATIXA 2020 ONE POLICY, TWO PROCEDURES MODEL THROUGH A LIMITED LICENSE TO HOPE COLLEGE. ALL OTHER RIGHTS RESERVED. ©2020. ATIXA

NOTES:

  1. Not to be confused with those mandated by state law to report child abuse, elder abuse, and/or abuse of individuals with disabilities to appropriate officials, though these responsibilities may overlap with those who have mandated reporting responsibility in this Policy.
  2. For the purpose of this policy, Hope College defines “student” as any individual who has accepted an offer of admission, or who is registered or enrolled for credit or non-credit bearing coursework, and who maintains an ongoing relationship with Hope College. 
  3. OCR and the EEOC have jurisdiction over Title IX employment claims.
  4. For the purpose of this policy, privacy and confidentiality have distinct meanings. Privacy means that information related to a complaint will be shared with a limited number of Hope College employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the assessment, investigation, and resolution of the report. All employees who are involved in the Hope College’s response to notice under this policy receive specific training and guidance about sharing and safeguarding private information in accordance with state and federal law. The privacy of student education records will be protected in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), as outlined in the Hope College’s FERPA policy. The privacy of employee records will be protected in accordance with Human Resources policies. Confidentiality exists in the context of laws that protect certain relationships, including those who provide services related to medical and clinical care, mental health providers, counselors, and ordained clergy. The law creates a privilege between certain health care providers, mental health care providers, attorneys, clergy, spouses, and others, with their patients, clients, parishioners, and spouses. Hope College has designated individuals who have the ability to have privileged communications as Confidential Resources. For more information about Confidential Resources, see page 22. When information is shared by a Complainant with a Confidential Resource, the Confidential Resource cannot reveal the information to any third party except when an applicable law or a court order requires or permits disclosure of such information. For example, information may be disclosed when: (i) the individual gives written consent for its disclosure; (ii) there is a concern that the individual will likely cause serious physical harm to self or others; or (iii) the information concerns conduct involving suspected abuse or neglect of a minor under the age of 18, elders, or individuals with disabilities. Non-identifiable information may be shared by Confidential Resources for statistical tracking purposes as required by the federal Clery Act. Other information may be shared as required by law.
  5. Unwelcomeness is subjective and determined by the Complainant (except when the Complainant is below the age of consent). Severity, pervasiveness, and objective offensiveness are evaluated based on the totality of the circumstances from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances (“in the shoes of the Complainant”), including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced. 
  6. Unwelcomeness is subjective and determined by the Complainant (except when the Complainant is below the age of consent). Severity, pervasiveness, and objective offensiveness are evaluated based on the totality of the circumstances from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances (“in the shoes of the Complainant”), including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced. 
  7. 16 in the State of Michigan, per state law. 
  8. Violation of this section are typically a Human Resources/Employee Relations matter and will not be addressed under this resolution process unless the elements of the definition of harassment are met.
  9. The state of Michigan does not specifically define consent, but Criminal Sexual Conduct laws explicitly state consent can be absent based on age, mental challenges or incapacitation. While we use the definition outlined in the policy to address campus policy violations, MI penal code section 750.520 should be reviewed as it is applicable to criminal prosecutions for sex offenses in Michigan.
  10. Bondage, discipline/dominance, submission/sadism, and masochism.
  11. Except in circumstances dictated by state law and/or other college policies, such as the Youth Protection Policy.
  12. VAWA is the Violence Against Women Act, enacted in 1994 codified in part at 42 U.S.C. sections 13701 through 14040.
  13. All references herein to the EOC Coordinator also include a designee of the EOC Coordinator. 
  14. If circumstances require, the President or EOC Coordinator will designate another person to oversee the process below should an allegation be made about the EOC Coordinator or the EOC Coordinator be otherwise unavailable or unable to fulfill their duties.
  15. The Advisor cannot have institutionally conflicting roles, such as being a Title IX administrator who has an active role in the matter, or a supervisor who must monitor and implement sanctions. An advisor may include an attorney, advocate, or support person. Witnesses are not entitled to Advisors within the process, though they can be advised externally.
  16. If circumstances require, the President or EOC Coordinator will designate another person to oversee the process below should an allegation be made about the EOC Coordinator or the EOC Coordinator be otherwise unavailable or unable to fulfill their duties.
  17. These dismissal requirements are mandated by the 2020 Title IX Regulations, 34 CFR Part 106.45. 
  18. The Advisor cannot have institutionally conflicting roles, such as being a Title IX administrator who has an active role in the matter, or a supervisor who must monitor and implement sanctions.
  19. The final investigation report may be shared using electronic means that preclude downloading, forwarding, or otherwise sharing.