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Fort Lewis College Official Seal

Policy identification number:  To Come

File: Ethical & Responsible Conduct Policies / Anti-Discrimination Policies

Grievance Procedure

Policy Summary

These Procedures are used to handle complaints filed under the following five Fort Lewis College policies:
1. Sexual Misconduct
2. Student Conduct
3. Discriminatory Harassment
4. Disability Anti-Discrimination
5. Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

Policy Owner

Vice President for Student Affairs

Approval Date

October 7, 2016

Effective Date

August 29, 2016

Search Terms

vpsa, grievance, procedure, g

Scheduled for Review

Fall of 2020

I. Policy Statement - General

    1. These Procedures are used to handle complaints filed under the Fort Lewis College Student Conduct Policy, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Sexual Misconduct Policy, Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and Disability AntiDiscrimination Policy.

    2. Respondent may not opt for an alternative grievance procedure from Faculty Handbook or Exempt Staff Handbook. No complainant will be permitted to simultaneously file a complaint under these procedures and a grievance under the State of Colorado Personnel Board Rules or the Faculty Handbook against the same individual arising out of an identical set of facts.

II. Definitions

    1. Disciplinary Authority. The disciplinary authority is the individual who has the authority or delegated authority to impose discipline upon a particular employee, faculty member, or student.
    2. Working Days. Working days are those days when the administrative offices of the College are open.

    3. Complaint. Complaint means a report of discrimination, misconduct, or retaliation submitted as described below, in Section III.

    4. Complainant. Complainant is an individual or organization, including the College, filing a complaint.
    5. Respondent. Respondent is the individual against whom a Complaint has been filed.
    6. Parties. Parties are the complainant and the respondent. The victim may be treated as a party for notice purposes, if the victim is not the complainant.

III. Filing a Complaint

    1. If an individual wishes to notify the College of possible discrimination or misconduct and pursue formal or informal resolution under these Grievance Procedures, he or she must submit a complaint as follows:

      1. Sexual Misconduct Complaints: Information or complaints of sexual misconduct should be directed to the Title IX Coordinator, 230 Miller Student Services, (970) 247-7241, or TellSomeone@fortlewis.eduComplaints concerning sexual misconduct may also be filed online at www.fortlewis.edu/TellSomeone. Complainants may also file a report with campus police or local law enforcement at any time, in addition to filing a complaint with the College. Individuals who would like help can request it from the Title IX Coordinator, counselors, or health center employees. If Fort Lewis College knows about possible sexual misconduct or discrimination through the filing of a complaint or other reliable information sources, it will conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation and resolution. Fort Lewis College will act to end discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on victims and the Fort Lewis College community. No one is required to notify law enforcement about sexual assault or sexual harassment if they do not wish to do so. Similarly, individuals may report an incident to law enforcement without reporting to the College. Individuals reporting that they were a victim of sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking will receive a resource sheet explaining their reporting options and available services.

      2. Discrimination Complaints: Information or complaints involving Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, disability discrimination or discriminatory harassment should be directed in writing to Equal Opportunity Coordinator, 230 Miller Student Services, (970) 382-6977, kim_h@fortlewis.edu or filed online at www.fortlewis.edu/TellSomeone.
      3. Student Conduct Policy Complaints: Individuals wishing to report a Student Conduct Policy violation may file online at www.fortlewis.edu/TellSomeone. Residential students may inform residential housing staff.
    2. Contents of Complaint: Generally, all complaints alleging misconduct, discrimination, or retaliation should be made as soon after the event as possible so that the matter may be investigated in a timely manner. Complaints of alleged misconduct, discrimination, or retaliation should state the “who, when, where, and what" of the situation. 
    3. The complainant may or may not be the victim. A third party may make a report of misconduct, discrimination, or retaliation, or the appropriate Vice President may, on behalf of Fort Lewis College, initiate a complaint, serve as complainant, and initiate proceedings without a formal complaint by the victim of misconduct.

IV. Confidentiality 

    1. Fort Lewis College will honor requests for confidentiality to the extent permitted by law. While all efforts will be made to protect employee and student privacy, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed when other members of the College community may be at risk, or when the College has reason to believe a crime has been committed. In those cases, the College may be required to report information to law enforcement, and/or investigate and take action on the basis of the facts it discovers. In addition, many Fort Lewis College employees are required to report sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.
    2. The College maintains public records of a variety of incidents, such as those required to be reported in the Annual Security Report. These reports are created without the use of personally identifying information of parties.
    3. Measures taken to protect the complainant or victim are confidential to the complainant or victim, except to the extent that confidentiality would inhibit the College from providing the protective measure.
    4. Students who wish discuss an incident a confidential manner can contact: 
      1. A counselor at the Fort Lewis College Counseling Center, 970-247-7212, 230 Noble Hall.
      2. A medical professional at the Student Health Center, 970-247-7355, 170 Miller Student Services Building.
    5. Any individual may access these confidential services: 
      1. Sex Assault Services Organization of Durango (SASO) 24-Hour Hotline, 970-247-5400.
      2. Alternative Horizons Domestic Violence Hotline at 970-247-9619.

V. Retaliation

The College will work to prevent retaliation and respond strongly if retaliation occurs. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, threats, intimidation, coercion, or discrimination (including harassment), against any individual who has participated in the investigation or disciplinary process as a witness, complainant, or respondent. Any complaints of retaliation are grounds for a separate complaint and disciplinary action. Complainants or other participants in the investigation or disciplinary proceedings who experience retaliation should file a report at www.Fortlewis.edu/Tellsomeone or report it in writing to the Coordinator.

VI. Interim Measures and Remedies

    1. Victims need not report incidents to law enforcement in order to receive interim measures and remedies. Victims will receive written notice of the availability of interim measures and remedies at the time that their complaint is made to the relevant Coordinator. Victims may request interim measures and remedies by responding to that communication, or at any time by contacting the relevant Coordinator.
    2. Beginning at the time that a complaint is made, safety measures and remedies for victims may include, but are not limited to:
      1. “No contact” directives from the College;
      2. Assistance with civil or criminal protection orders;
      3. Ensuring that the victim and respondent do not attend the same classes or work in the same office;

      4. Moving the victim or respondent to a different residence hall;
      5. Providing counseling services;
      6. Providing medical services;
      7. Providing academic support services, such as tutoring;
      8. Arranging for the victim to re-take a course or withdraw from a class without academic or financial penalty;

      9. Reviewing any disciplinary actions taken against the victim to see if there is a causal connection between the harassment and the misconduct that may have resulted in the victim being disciplined.

VII. Complaint Resolution - Informal Process

At the request of the complainant and as approved by the appropriate Coordinator, complaints of a less serious nature may be resolved utilizing informal mechanisms such as mediation. A Coordinator will facilitate any mediation under this procedure. The complainant or the Coordinator may end an informal process at any time and begin the formal stage of the complaint process instead. There is no appeal from the results of an informal process. In cases involving sexual violence, informal resolution is not permitted, even on a voluntary basis.

VIII. Complaint Resolution - Formal Process

    1. If the complainant chooses, or if the Coordinator decides that the case is not appropriate for the informal process, or if the informal process is unsuccessful, a Coordinator will begin processing the complaint under this formal process.
    2. Time Frame: Full investigation and resolution of the complaint will generally be completed within 60 working days after the complaint is received. If specific timelines set forth in these procedures require extension due to the complexity of a case or special circumstances, the parties will be simultaneously notified by a Coordinator.
    3. Assigning a Case: If a case involves multiple policies, the Vice President for Student Affairs will assign the case to an appropriate Coordinator. Otherwise, proceedings will be assigned and facilitated as follows:
      1. Sexual Misconduct - Title IX Coordinator.
      2. Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Disability, or another type of Discriminatory Harassment - Equal Opportunity Coordinator or designee.
      3. Student Conduct Policy violation – Student Conduct Coordinator, Dean of Students, or another designee of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
    4. Standard of Proof: Complaints will be evaluated and resolved under a preponderance of the evidence standard (more likely than not) at all times.
    5. Initial Investigation: The Coordinator will conduct an immediate initial investigation to determine if there is a reasonable basis to proceed. Generally, the initial investigation will be completed within ten working days of receipt of a complaint. If there is insufficient basis to proceed, the case will be closed with no further action and the parties involved will be notified of the decision.
    6. Notice of Investigation: If there is sufficient basis to proceed, the Coordinator will issue a written notice of investigation to the parties. If suspension or expulsion from the College or termination from employment is a possible sanction, the Notice will include this information. Where possible, the Coordinator will notify the victim and obtain the victim’s consent before moving forward. 
    7. Formal Investigation: The Coordinator will act as or appoint an investigator who will commence a prompt, thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation. The investigator will examine all relevant documents and interview all witnesses, including the complainant and respondent. The investigator may interview other individuals with relevant information, including College employees, students, or other individuals identified by the parties. During the investigation and any subsequent hearing, the complainant and the respondent will have equal opportunities to present relevant witnesses and other evidence. The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be admissible by the other party in a sexual misconduct investigation or hearing unless such information is determined to be highly relevant by the Investigator or the Chair of the Panel. The formal investigation will generally be concluded within fifteen working days.
    8. Advisors: Any party may choose to have an advisor, including an attorney, present during any meetings with the Coordinator, investigator, or any subsequent hearing, if the party advises the Coordinator, investigator, and/or Hearing Panel at least two working days prior to the date of the interview or hearing. Advisors may not actively participate in, or disrupt the interview or hearing. All parties are responsible for finding and paying for an advisor on their own if they wish to have one.
    9. Investigator’s Report: At the conclusion of the formal investigation, the investigator will make a finding, based on a preponderance of the evidence, as to whether the respondent is responsible for violations of the Fort Lewis College Student Conduct Policy, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Sexual Misconduct Policy, Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and/or Disability Anti-Discrimination Policy. If the investigator makes a finding of responsibility as to one or more policy, he or she will consult with the Coordinator and the appropriate disciplinary authority to craft a recommended sanction. Both parties will receive a simultaneous written notification regarding the findings and sanction recommendations, if applicable, of the investigator within five working days after the completion of the investigator’s report.
    10. Panel Hearing Request: If the Notice of Investigation stated that suspension, expulsion or termination was a possible sanction, either party may request a panel hearing. Individuals seeking a panel hearing shall provide written notification to the Coordinator within five working days following receipt of the investigator’s findings and sanction recommendations. Such written notification shall set forth the specific findings and/or sanction recommendations that are rejected. Findings and sanction recommendations not specifically rejected shall be deemed accepted.
    11. Panel Hearing: The scope of the hearing is limited to the specific findings that were expressly rejected in the Panel Hearing Request.
      1. The Hearing Panel’s proceedings will be facilitated by the responsible Coordinator or designee. The facilitator will appoint a three-person Hearing Panel based on availability and conflict of interest. Any real or perceived conflict of interest by a Hearing Panel member will be disclosed to the parties prior to the hearing.
      2. Parties shall receive electronic written notice of the appointment of the Hearing Panel and the date of the hearing(s).
      3. All hearings should be concluded within fifteen working days following notice to the parties of the formation of the Hearing Panel.
      4. The Hearing Panel consists of three members, drawn from the Fort Lewis College Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Committee, who are trained to conduct hearings in a fair and impartial manner. The Panel will maintain the confidentiality of proceedings and the information obtained in those proceedings. After the members of the Panel are finalized, they will select one member to serve as Chair.
      5. The hearing is not a formal court proceeding, and rules of process, procedure and evidence as established and applied in the civil or criminal justice system do not apply.
          1. The findings of the formal investigation will be admitted, but are not binding on the Panel. The investigator and the parties may give additional information to the Panel.
          2. The parties will have equal opportunities to present relevant witnesses and other evidence to the Panel.
          3. For sexual misconduct complaints, whether the alleged victim is serving as a complainant or witness, alternative testimony options will be given, such as placing a privacy screen in the hearing room, or allowing the alleged victim to testify outside the physical presence of the respondent, such as by telephone or other electronic means.
          4. The parties may not question or cross-examine each other directly.
          5. If one or more party appeals both the investigator’s finding and the recommended sanction(s), the Panel will first hear evidence relevant to whether the respondent is responsible for violating the policies.
          6. If the Hearing Panel issues a finding of responsibility, it will conduct a separate hearing to hear evidence relevant to the appropriate sanction (such as an impact statement of the complainant as well as mitigating factors from the respondent), and make sanction recommendations and/or other appropriate remedies, after consultation with the Coordinator and the appropriate disciplinary authority.
          7. Within five working days following the conclusion of the hearing, the Coordinator will provide written notice simultaneously to both parties of the Panel’s finding and recommended sanction. If applicable, this written notice will provide the basis for any decision or recommended sanction and the appeal procedures.
          8. The Panel has final fact finding authority with regard to formal complaints.
          9. Fort Lewis College will maintain documentation of all proceedings as required by law.

IX. Sanctions

    1. Serious violations of policy by students and employee are likely to result in temporary or permanent separation from Fort Lewis College. Recommended sanctions for employees or students found responsible for violating the Fort Lewis College Student Conduct Policy, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Sexual Misconduct Policy, Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and Disability AntiDiscrimination Policy will be implemented, based on the status of the respondent, as follows:
    2. Students: The Vice President for Student Affairs or designee is responsible for determining all sanctions related to student policy violations. Those recommended sanctions may include, but are not limited to:
      1. Referrals for behavioral assessments from the Counseling Center and/or community based resources and compliance with the results of those assessments.
      2. Limitations on hours for using campus services.
      3. Change in housing assignment.
      4. Restriction from campus facilities, events, co-curricular activities, athletics, and/or residential building(s).

      5. Housing removal.
      6. Restriction from having guests in campus housing.
      7. Payment of restitution.
      8. Written reflection, written apology.
      9. Restriction from leadership role and campus employment.
      10. Campus or community service.
      11. Restriction from enrollment in classes with a victim.
      12. Required educational program(s).
      13. Exploration and utilization of academic support services on campus.
      14. No contact directive(s).
      15. Disciplinary warning.
      16. Disciplinary probation.
      17. Disciplinary suspension.
      18. Expulsion.
      19. Admission to the College may be revoked for fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining admission.

    3. Employees: The employee’s next level supervisor or disciplinary authority is responsible for determining all sanctions relating to employee policy violations.

X. Appeals

    1. If a Panel Hearing was requested and granted, then either party may appeal the Hearing Panel’s decision by giving written notification to the Coordinator of the grounds for appeal within five (5) working days following receipt of the Hearing Panel’s decision. Notice of an appeal will be shared with the other party. The opposing party will have five (5) working days to respond to the appealing party’s grounds for appeal.
    2. Grounds for Appeal: Grounds for appeal are limited to (1) procedural error that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing, (2) bias or (3) the discovery of new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, which could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of any grounds and its potential impact on the finding must be included.
    3. Appeals Authority. The Appeals Authority is the relevant Vice President (Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Advancement, or Finance & Administration). If more than one Vice President is relevant, the President will designate which Vice President is the Appeals Authority. If the case involves a Vice President directly, the Appeals Authority is the President. If the case involves the President directly, the Appeals Authority is the Board of Trustees.
    4. Appeals Process. If the Appeals Authority determines that grounds for appeal do not exist, the findings and sanction(s) of the Hearing Panel will stand. If the appeals authority determines that grounds for appeal do exist, the appeals authority may determine the outcome of the appeal themselves, if this would best cure the grounds for appeal. If grounds for appeal exist and the appeals authority determines that instead the complaint should be reconsidered by the panel, the complaint will be returned to the original hearing panel for reconsideration in light of the stated grounds for appeal, with any instructions necessary. Reconsideration by the panel or the appeals authority is limited to the scope necessary to cure the grounds for appeal. Appellate reconsideration will defer to the original hearing panel’s findings of facts and responsibility. Sanctions imposed by the disciplinary authority will be in effect during the appeal, barring the disciplinary authority’s decision to stay some part of a sanction. Stays of sanctions may only be granted in exigent circumstances. Graduation, study abroad, athletics, internships/externships, etc., do not in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances.
    5. Outcome. The Appeals Authority’s written decision on the appeal will be simultaneously provided to all parties within ten working days from receipt of the appeal. This decision is final. If the Appeals Authority determines that new evidence should be considered, the complaint will be returned to the original Hearing Panel to reconsider the complaint in light of the new evidence, only. The Panel’s determination following reconsideration of the complaint is not appealable. If the Appeals Authority determines that a material procedural or substantive error occurred, it may return the complaint to the original Panel with instructions to reconvene to cure the error. Appeal hearings are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal, and do not include an additional opportunity for the appealing party to appear before the Panel. Appeals decisions are to defer to the original Panel, making changes to the findings only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification.

XI. Individual Student Disciplinary Records

    1. Individual student disciplinary proceeding records are maintained by the Student Affairs Office. These records are confidential and will be released only with the respondent student's written waiver, by court order, or as otherwise permitted by law.
    2. Access. A student may request access to his/her disciplinary proceeding record as provided by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, and the College disciplinary process allows the respondent student to review all of the information in his/her file that may be presented in a disciplinary hearing.
    3. Retention. No permanent record of the disciplinary proceedings may be made except as authorized by the Dean. Student disciplinary files are kept for seven years from the final decision date except for expulsion cases. Files for expelled students are kept indefinitely.

Reason for Policy

To initiate operating procedures for handling complaints filed under the Fort Lewis College Student Conduct Policy, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Sexual Misconduct Policy, Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and Disability AntiDiscrimination Policy.

Responsibilities

For following the policy: All students and employees regardless of their employment classification

For enforcement of the policy: Dean of Students, Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinators

For oversight of the policy: Vice President for Student Affairs

For notification of policy: Policy Librarian

For procedures implementing the policy: Dean of Students, Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinators 

Cross Referenced Policies

Discriminatory Harassment

Disability Anti-Discrimination

Student Conduct

Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

Sexual Misconduct Policy

Revision History

Approved by Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees: February 11, 2009. Revised by Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees: December 6, 2013. Revised by Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees: February 13, 2015. This revised policy was approved by the President's Cabinet on August 24, 2016 and the Board of Trustees on October 7, 2016.