The Sexual Misconduct Policy is reviewed annually. While the types of conduct prohibited by the policy and Furman’s process remain substantially the same as last year, the following changes and additions were made to the policy for the 2018-19 year:
- Rachael Simpson, Assistant Athletic Director/Compliance & Student-Athlete development, has replaced Elaine Baker as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator
- Language was added to clarify that if the University investigates a report of Sexual Misconduct that is alleged to have occurred during a time a different Sexual Misconduct Policy or version was in effect, the policy currently in place will govern the procedures utilized in investigating and adjudicating the report, while the Sexual Misconduct Policy definitions in effect at the time of the alleged conduct will apply in determining whether a University policy was violated.
- The following language was added regarding Furman’s commitment to academic freedom:
- “Furman affirms its commitment to academic freedom, but notes that academic freedom does not allow any form of Sexual Misconduct. Furman recognizes that an essential function of education is a probing of opinions and an exploration of ideas, some of which, because they are controversial, may cause students and others discomfort. This discomfort, as a product of free academic inquiry within a faculty member’s area(s) of expertise, shall in no way be considered or construed as a form of discrimination or harassment. Academic inquiry may involve teaching, research and extramural speech. Furthermore, nothing in this Policy shall be interpreted to prohibit bona fide academic requirements for a specific University program, course or activity.”
- In several places during the process, language was added to formalize the role of the Dean of Faculty:
- (Section 1.03) When investigating complaints that a party or the Title IX Coordinator believes may involve issues of academic freedom, the Title IX Coordinator will consult with the Dean of Faculty with respect to contemporary academic practices and standards.
- (Section 6.02) Appeals of any interim disciplinary measures for Respondents who are members of the faculty may be appealed to the Dean of Faculty.
- If the Complaint involves one or more faculty members, the Dean of Faculty will participate in selecting the
- Gender-based harassment was added as a type of prohibited conduct with the following definition: “Gender-based harassment is verbal, nonverbal, graphic or physical aggression, intimidation or hostile conduct based on gender, gender-stereotyping, sexual orientation or gender identity, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities. For example, persistent disparagement of a person based upon a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity or exclusion from an activity based on a perceived orientation or gender identity may also violate this policy.” This type of conduct was previously included under the definition of “sexual harassment.”
- The definition of sexual harassment was changed to the following:
- Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either (i) or (ii) below applies:
(i) Submission to, consent to or rejection of the behavior carries or is reasonably believed to carry consequences for the individual’s education, employment, on‐campus living environment, or participation in a University activity. Examples of this type of sexual harassment include:
(1) pressuring an individual to engage in sexual behavior for some educational or employment benefit, or
(2) making a real or perceived threat that rejecting sexual behavior will carry a negative educational or employment consequence for the individual.
(ii) The behavior is severe, persistent or pervasive and objectively offensive, such that it unreasonably limits or interferes with the individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education, on-campus living, or employment programs or activities by creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or demeaning environment. Whether the conduct creates a hostile environment may depend on a variety of factors, including: the degree to which the conduct affected the education or employment of another person; the type, frequency and duration of the conduct; the relationship between the parties; the number of people involved; and the context in which the conduct occurred. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repeated pattern of conduct. Examples of this type of sexual harassment include:
(1) persistent unwelcome efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship;
(2) unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors;
(3) unwelcome commentary about an individual's body or sexual activities;
(4) inappropriately touching an individual’s body;
(5) unwelcome sexually‐oriented teasing, joking, flirting, or lewd comments, innuendos or gestures; and
(6) verbal abuse of a sexual nature.
- Language was added to clarify that the University reserves the right to address offensive conduct and/or unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that does not rise to the level of creating a hostile environment. Addressing such behaviors may not result in the imposition of discipline under University policy, but will be addressed through respectful confrontation, remedial actions, education and/or conflict resolution efforts.
- Language was added to clarify that amnesty for illegal use of drugs or alcohol applies when evidence of such use is discovered in the course of a Sexual Misconduct investigation.
- In Section 4.02, language was added to clarify that no organization is authorized to investigate or resolve complaints involving alleged Sexual Misconduct without the approval and involvement of the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator.
- In Section 5.04, language was added to clarify that Responsible Employees are expected to inform the Title IX Coordinator of any reported Sexual Misconduct within 24 hours of receiving a report, and the Title IX Coordinator generally will contact the Complainant or Third-party reporter within one business day of receiving a report from a Responsible Employee.
- In the same section, language also was added to state that the University generally will contact a Respondent to advise them of the receipt of a Complaint within five business days of a Complainant advising the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator that they wish to proceed with a Complaint and do not request heightened confidentiality.
- The anticipated timeframe for investigation and resolution of a complaint was changed from 60 to 90 days.
- The time in which the parties will receive the Final Outcome Letter was changed from 5 calendar days after the hearing to 10 calendar days.
- In 6.01, the following language was added to clarify that not every report proceeds to become a complaint:
- The University recognizes that not every individual who reports Sexual Misconduct intends to initiate a Complaint. For that reason, if a Complainant does not wish to initiate a full investigation and disciplinary process and requests Heighted Confidentiality, the University will not consider the Complainant to have initiated the Complaint process and will proceed as outlined in Section 3.02. In addition, the Title IX Coordinator is a resource for the University Community, and the University recognizes that some students and employees may wish to consult with the Title IX Coordinator regarding situations that do not rise to the level of Material Sexual Misconduct or may wish to obtain information about reporting options, interim measures and available support without initiating a Complaint. In such a situation, the Title IX Coordinator or Assigned Deputy Title IX Coordinator may work with the Complainant and/or Respondent to implement interim measures and/or take measures to stop the identified behavior (such as through consultation with both parties) without the Complainant initiating a Complaint. If at any time, the Complainant initiates a Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator or Assigned Deputy Title IX Coordinator will proceed as set forth in this Article.
- Language was added to clarify that investigators may be University employees, non-employee investigators or a combination of the two.
- In Section 6.04(f), the timeframe for the parties to submit a written statement in response to information in the Investigative Report was changed from “within two” to “within three” days of receipt of the Notice of Hearing and Composition of the Hearing Board.
- While cases involving allegations of Non-consensual Sexual Penetration still are not eligible for informal resolution, some limited cases involving Non-consensual Sexual Contact may be eligible for informal resolution, provided that the parties both wish to resolve the Complaint using informal resolution and the Assigned Deputy Title IX Coordinator determines that informal resolution is an appropriate mechanism for resolving the Complaint.
- For hearing boards in cases involving only faculty members, the Dean of Faculty and the Title IX Coordinator will attempt to assign three faculty to the Hearing Board.
- In addition, in cases involving at least one faculty member, the Dean of Faculty and the Title IX Coordinator will attempt to assign at least one faculty member to the Hearing Board, and in cases involving at least one staff member, the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources and the Title IX Coordinator will attempt to assign at least one staff member to the Hearing Board.
- The parties will receive written notice of the date, time and location of the hearing, as well as the names of the individuals selected to serve on the Hearing Board, at least seven calendar days prior to the hearing (previously was five calendar days).
- Language was added to Section 7.02 to clarify that neither party may communicate with members of the Hearing Board regarding matters germane to the hearing outside of the hearing.
- Language was added to Section 7.02(c) to clarify that the Hearing Board generally will communicate the finding of “Responsible” or “Not Responsible” to the parties on the day of the hearing. Additional information regarding the decision, including the rationale and any sanctions, if applicable, will be communicated in the Final Outcome Letter.
- Language was added to clarify that, in determining appropriate sanctions, a Hearing Board will consider the impact of separating a student from his or her education.
- In determining appropriate sanctions, the Hearing Board may also consider any prior disciplinary history of a Respondent.
- The sanctioning matrix was changed to specify that training and/or relocation of office are potential sanctions for employee Respondents.
- The policy now specifies that if one party appeals, the other party will have three calendar days to submit a written response to the appeal.
- Because additional process protections have been built into the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the separate appeal of a sanction of termination by a tenured faculty member pursuant to the Due Process Policy has been removed.