Section H: Frequently Asked Questions about the Formal Process

I am a Respondent. I don’t know if I can study for classes or prepare for exams during this process. What should I do?

The Respondent Support Services person can connect you with priority access to counseling services, with other confidential resources on campus such as free legal resources, the health center and the Ombuds. The Respondent Support person can also assist you, or connect you with a Deputy Coordinator to assist you with any academic or other support that you may need such as talking with professors about moving exams, changing residences or other support that may be appropriate to help reduce the impact of this process on your academic experience.

You can ask to speak with a Respondent Support person, or request a different staff member by calling 541-346-3216 or by emailing the Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator@uoregon.edu.

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Is there a different process if I am a student-employee or graduate-employee?

The context of the allegation, meaning whether it involves conduct directly related to your status as a student or an employee, will determine which process should be followed. This is not always an easy determination, and therefore the OICRC/Title IX Coordinator and the Director will assess each situation involving employees to determine which process will control.

Information about Employee Grievances processes can be found on the Formal Employee Process page.

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I just received a letter titled “Notice of Allegations and Investigation.” What does this mean?

If you have received a Notice of Allegations, it means that the Offices of the OICRC/Title IX Coordinator and Student Conduct and Community Standards received a report that alleged that you were involved in an incident of misconduct, and that there is enough information to begin a formal investigation. The purpose of the formal investigation is to determine if a violation of the Student Conduct Code occurred.

The Notice of Allegations and Investigation should also include an outline of the investigation process, which is a condensed version of these Student Conduct Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

This does NOT mean that you have been found responsible for a violation of the Conduct Code. It simply means that an investigation has been started and that you will be expected to participate in a fact-finding process to help the university determine what, if anything, happened.

Under our Student Conduct Code, you are considered not responsible unless and until the university determines by a preponderance of the information that you are responsible.

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What can I expect if I am interviewed?

During an interview, the Administrator will:

  • Ask you questions related to the complaint
  • Listen
  • Take notes
  • Ask you for the names of any other individuals who may have information or knowledge of the situation and about what happened
  • Provide you an opportunity to present information and material related to the situation and about what happened
  • Request that you keep the information you share with the Administrator confidential while the investigation is happening. This request is made to protect the integrity of the investigation process, and to protect participants and witnesses against allegations of retaliation.

The Administrator determines if, based on the information available, it is more likely than not a violation of University policy occurred. The Administrator does not determine sanctions.

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How do I deny the allegation?

You must schedule an interview with the assigned Administrator in order to deny the allegation. During your initial interview with the Administrator you will find out more information about the details of the complaint and you will be able to respond. You will also have the opportunity to provide the names of witnesses with whom you would like the Administrator to speak, as well as to begin providing any other information you think would help the Administrator in understanding what happened.

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Will all of my questions be asked?

The Administrator will review questions that Complainant and Respondent propose for one another and for witnesses and will determine whether the questions are appropriate to ask.  

Questions which are not appropriate to ask include, but are not limited to, questions that ask for or about irrelevant information and questions that are unduly harassing.  Questions which ask for information which has already been included in the Preliminary Report or Revised Preliminary Report will be considered unduly harassing. Questions may also be determined to be unduly harassing for other reasons. Leading questions and questions that ask for information already in the Record will usually not be asked, or will be rephrased. The Administrator will ask those questions that are determined relevant and not unduly harassing.

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What types of information will be considered? What is relevant?

The Administrator has the sole discretion to determine the relevancy of information submitted and to include or exclude certain information. Information is generally considered relevant if it has a tendency to make a fact that is significant to the investigation more or less probable.

In general, the Administrator will not consider relevant:

  • statements of personal opinion, rather than direct observations or reasonable inferences from the facts;
  • statements as to anyone’s general reputation or character traits;
  • prior or subsequent sexual conduct of either party;
  • statements by advisors;
  • prior or subsequent misconduct of either party;
  • statements from witnesses without actual knowledge relating to the facts;
  • expert witnesses;

There may be circumstances where exceptions will be made to the above list where information may be relevant for other reasons.

Relevance of Information about Prior or Subsequent Misconduct:

Information about prior misconduct can be used in some circumstances to assist in determining if there are patterns of similar behavior, to show that someone had prior knowledge of rules or practices, to demonstrate intent, motive, or absence of mistake.

For example, information of a pattern of prohibited conduct by the Respondent, either before or after the incident in question, regardless of whether there has been a prior finding of a code violation, may be deemed relevant to the determination of responsibility for the allegations under investigation.

The determination of relevance of pattern information will be based on an assessment of whether the previous or subsequent conduct was substantially similar to the conduct under investigation or indicates a pattern of similar conduct.

Such prior or subsequent conduct may also constitute a violation of the Student Conduct Code, in which case it may subject the Respondent to additional sanctions. The Administrator will determine the relevance of this information.

Relevance of Information about Prior or Subsequent Sexual Conduct:

Prior sexual history generally will not be admitted to prove character or reputation and typically will not be used in determining whether the conduct occurred.

Exceptions to this rule include when consent is at issue, in which case prior consensual activity between the two students, while not determinative, may be relevant to determining whether consent was sought and given, to explain an injury, motive or bias, or to establish a pattern or intent.

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What information should I share?

It is important that you share all information relevant to the underlying allegation because the Administrator is tasked with compiling an accurate reflection of the alleged incident throughout the fact-gathering stage of the process should be shared.

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Can I submit a polygraph examinations and test results?

Polygraph examinations and test results generally will not be allowed. The Administrator, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, has the discretion to allow or not allow the admission of polygraph examinations and test results. In making that determination, one factor the Administrator may consider is whether an offered polygraph examination or test result contains pertinent facts relevant to making a decision and such facts cannot be obtained through another method.  

When allowed, polygraph test results will not substitute for the Administrator’s independent assessment of credibility. Complainant or Respondent may request the Administrator to consider submission of a polygraph examination and test results.

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What happens to information that I submitted but that was not considered relevant?

All information submitted will be retained by the Administrator until the period for appeal has expired. Information deemed not relevant may be made available to the Appeals Officer as appropriate. This includes versions of questions that were submitted but were not asked or were rephrased.

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Will the Administrator talk to all of my proposed witnesses?  

The Administrator will make a reasonable effort to talk to all of those witnesses that the Administrator determines may have information relevant to the investigation, and that are not simply duplicative of information already received, or who are simply speaking to the character of the party or witness. The University does not have the ability to compel individuals to provide information. The University also does not have the ability to require individuals who are not affiliated with the University to meet with the Administrator.

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What does it mean when the SOPs say the Decision-maker will assess the credibility of parties and witnesses?

During the investigation, the parties and witnesses will frequently present facts upon which there is no agreement. In order for the Decision-maker to arrive at a decision, they often have to determine which version of the facts is more credible. In other words, they need to determine which version of events is more believable. This decision is based on many factors including the credibility of the party or witness providing the information. In making these determinations, the Decision-maker relies on many factors which are commonly weighed in making credibility determinations.

This list of factors is not exhaustive but generally includes:

  • The opportunity and ability of the person to see or hear or know the things discussed in the person’s statement;
  • The person’s memory;
  • If the information presented corroborated by another person or by other information? (For example, information presented by persons who saw the party soon after or at the time of the underlying occurrence or is there physical or written documentation that corroborates the person’s statements)
  • The person’s manner and demeanor while providing information to the decision-maker;
  • The person’s interest in the outcome of this investigation;
  • The person’s bias or prejudice, if any;
  • Whether other information in the Record contradicts the information presented by the witness or party;
  • The reasonableness of the person’s statements in light of all of the evidence;
  • Is the statement believable on its face? Does it make sense?
  • Past behavior (to the extent relevant under the SOPs);
  • And other factors that bear on believability.

These factors are drawn from resources frequently used by judges and decision-makers in agency processes similar to this process. You can look at the resources if you wish: 1) the 9th Circuit Manual of Model Jury Instructions and the guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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What if I was intoxicated at the time of the incident or can’t remember?

First, to encourage reporting, students reporting incidents of sexual misconduct will not be subject to Student Conduct Code violations or disciplinary sanctions relating to the use of alcohol or drugs in connection with the underlying incident. Learn more about alcohol and drug amnesty in the SOPs.

The use of alcohol or drugs will never function as a defense for engaging in sexual misconduct, harassment or unwanted sexual contact.

Second, if you are concerned about what effects intoxication may have had on your memory of the incident in question or your ability to give or seek explicit consent, you can look here to see how that is considered by a Decision-maker.

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Will the Administrator talk to other witnesses that I don’t suggest?

The University has the responsibility to gather information relevant to the allegations. Consistent with that responsibility, the Administrator may talk with any individual that the Administrator believes may have information relevant to the allegations.

The Administrator may consult with third parties, such as individuals or professionals with specialized knowledge in a particular field in order to understand a relevant fact. If the Administrator consults with someone for these purposes, the parties will have the opportunity to respond to the relied upon information.

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I am concerned the investigator is not treating me fairly. What should I do?

Please see Section C of the standard operating procedures which answers this question.

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Can I do my own investigation? Can I have my advisor or their investigator obtain information and give it to the Administrator?

Statements or information that are obtained by someone other than the Administrator (or an agent of the Administrator), are generally not allowed. This includes information obtained by the participant, an advisor, a private investigator or other person other than the Administrator.   

As described above, if the Complainant or Respondent believe a witness has relevant information, they should submit that person’s name, contact information and a summary of what information the witness may have to the Administrator. 

While witness statements obtained by third parties generally will not be allowed, a Complainant or Respondent can request the inclusion of such information. The Administrator has the discretion to approve or deny the request. In making a decision to approve or deny the request, the Administrator may consider whether the participant requesting the inclusion of the information has submitted sufficient information to establish that the witness is unavailable to be interviewed by the Administrator.  

Unavailable means that the witness cannot be reached in-person, by telephone, written communication or other means. Unavailable does not mean that the witness was not willing to talk to the Administrator.  

If a witness statement obtained by a third party is allowed in to become part of the information that the Administrator considers, the Administrator will determine what weight should be placed on the statement and the statement will not substitute for the Administrator’s independent assessment of credibility.

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Can my advisor submit statements on my behalf?

Factual statements submitted by Advisors will typically not be included in the information considered by the Administrator. The Administrator has the discretion to make an exception to this provision. In determining whether to make an exception, the Administrator may consider whether one of the participants is requesting that the factual statement be included, and whether the statement contains information relevant to the allegations.

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What if there is also a criminal process occurring?

About Concurrent Criminal and Administrative Processes

University of Oregon Police are responsible employees and have an obligation to share information with the OICRC/Title IX Coordinator related to all incidents of sexual misconduct, prohibited discrimination and harassment.

Eugene Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies typically do not share detailed information with the University or UOPD unless asked to do so by the victim.

If the allegations may constitute a violation of both the Student Conduct Code and the criminal code, students have the right to file a criminal complaint, a student conduct complaint, both or neither.

However, initiation of a criminal process does not necessarily mean a University process will also be initiated.

If the criminal process is initiated, at the request of law enforcement the University may temporarily defer all or part of its own investigation until after the active fact-gathering stage of the law enforcement investigation. If the student conduct process is suspended, in most instances, it will promptly resume as soon as the active fact-gathering stage of law enforcement is complete.

The decision to suspend the student conduct process will be made by the Director and the Title IX Coordinator in consultation with the relevant law enforcement agency, in consideration for the health and safety of the campus community, and in accordance with state and federal law.

In cases where there are concurrent criminal and conduct processes, the investigation of both may proceed concurrently and Administrators may conduct joint interviews with law enforcement as appropriate.

While interviews may be conducted jointly, the investigators will retain their own notes, write separate investigative reports and may ask different questions based on the difference between University policies and criminal laws. The joint interviews are undertaken for convenience, efficiency and to reduce the number of times individuals must be interviewed.

Respondents will not be interviewed concurrently.

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Why is there a formal university investigation if no criminal charges are being pursued?

The Student Conduct Code ensures your rights as a student are protected and outlines your responsibilities and the university’s expectations for your behavior as a student. The university’s student conduct investigation is independent of any criminal investigation.

However, if the University receives information regarding a criminal process, it may trigger an obligation on the part of the University to respond as appropriate to ensure the safety of students and the campus community. Title IX, along with other state and federal laws, obligate the university to provide a safe environment free from discrimination and harassment.

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Can I request my transcript during this process?

Due to pending conduct process, if a Respondent requests a copy of the Respondent’s transcript, a letter will accompany the provided transcript stating that there is a student conduct process pending and the charges.

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What happens if I leave or graduate during the conduct process?

An individual who is suspended or expelled (out of status) cannot participate in any University sponsored activity as a student, including graduation or other graduation related events. Therefore, a degree will not be awarded to a student who is suspended or expelled prior to degree conferral. A student may be awarded the degree after the term of suspension is served and the student is back in student status. An expelled student may not regain student status.

The University retains jurisdiction over a Respondent even if the Respondent withdraws from the University prior to resolution of a complaint. If a Complainant or Respondent chooses to not participate, the University will move forward with the student conduct process, including the Administrative Conference and sanctions without the benefit of their participation.

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Will my transcript show that this process occurred?

If the student conduct process results in a responsible finding for which a sanction of suspension or expulsion is assigned, there will be a notation made on the Respondent’s transcript that states either, as applicable:

  • Expelled for Student Conduct.
  • Suspended for Student Conduct (date to date)

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Can I request exceptions to any of these rules?

If a participant wants to request an exception, they should submit a request to the Administrator. Forms can be found on the OICRC website for convenience. In order to be considered, requests must provide a brief written statement regarding the reason for the exception and be received by a date that gives the Administrator a reasonable amount of time to consider the request. In consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, Administrators have the discretion to deny or grant a participant’s request.

Exceptions initiated by the Administrator. For good cause and in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, an Administrator may also make an exception to these procedures. If an exception is made by the Administrator, the Administrator will send out notice of the exception within a reasonable time.

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What kind of training does the Administrator receive?

The Director and Administrators receive annual training on how to handle prohibited discrimination and harassment, and sexual violence complaint investigations and to implement these procedures. For more information on the type of training required, please view

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-title-ix-201709.pdf  (En Español)  

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-title-ix-201709-sp.pdf

Administrators also receive training on how to conduct neutral investigations in a manner that understands techniques such as trauma and clinically informed interviewing and that protects the safety and procedural rights of Complainants, Respondents and witnesses.

Examples of these include those provided by ATIXA, T9 Mastered and the Oregon Attorney General’s training delivered by the Sexual Assault Task Force. These trainings are generally led by attorneys, law enforcement and higher education professionals, psychologists and experts on trauma and focus on the specifics of investigating cases, performing investigative interviews in a trauma-informed manner (often based on a Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI), understanding the impacts of trauma and intoxication or incapacitation on memory, assessing credibility, weighing and determining relevancy of information gathered, analyzing facts and applying policies and other aspects of formal processes.

In a typical year, Administrators at the UO also receive additional training on the nuances of sexual violence, dating and domestic violence; different types of prohibited discrimination and harassment including those based on sex or gender, stalking, and bullying behaviors; procedural fairness and adjudications; implicit bias; mental health disorders; evidence law; running administrative conferences; understanding criminal processes etc.

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What happens if I am found responsible?

When a student has been found responsible for a violation of the Conduct Code under the standard operating procedures, the Notice of Findings will be submitted by the investigator/Decision-maker to the Director of Student Conduct for a determination as to appropriate sanctions. Please see the standard operating procedures that discuss this process.

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How can I get a transcript of the Administrative Conference in preparation for an appeal?

Once the initial decision has been issued, and after the sanctioning decision has been made in cases involving a finding of responsibility, the Preliminary Report, the Revised Preliminary Report, the Notice of Findings and the audio from the Administrative Conference will be shared with the Complainant and the Respondent. This information will remain posted during the period of time within which they may file an appeal. The link to the files will be emailed to the Complainant and the Respondent directly, and requires that each sign in to their account to access the materials.

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What happens if an appeal determines that the Formal Process was unfairly conducted?

If the appeal determines that procedural error may have significantly affected the outcome of the process, or that actual bias was present, or that there was insufficient information (meaning that no reasonable person could have come to that decision based on the information presented), then the decision would be sent back to the Student Conduct office for either a new process or further investigation.

If you believe the process was conducted unfairly, there are also options via a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights or the Department of Justice.

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Is there an external appeal process?

Parties can file an external appeal with the Office for Civil Rights or with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) Parties may also pursue an appeal by filing a writ of review with the Lane County Court. See ORS 34.010-100. Parties are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in order to determine if and how to file an external appeal.

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What are my rights and responsibilities in the Formal Process?

As outlined in the Student Conduct Code and the Standard Operating Procedures for Sexual Misconduct cases (SOPs), you can expect the following protections:

  • To be allowed reasonable time to prepare for any participation in the conference;
  • To be accorded the opportunity to offer a relevant response to any assertions made;
  • To propose relevant witnesses and submit suggested questions to the Director or Administrator;
  • To be assured of confidentiality, in accordance with the terms of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Oregon law;
  • To request that any person conducting a disciplinary conference be disqualified on the ground of personal bias;
  • To be protected against retaliation for filing a complaint;
  • To have an advisor of your choice present at the conference provided that the advisor’s schedule does not unreasonably delay the proceeding. The Director or Administrator shall determine what constitutes an “unreasonable” delay; and
  • Upon request in the case of sexual misconduct, to be present in a separate room instead of the same room as the Respondent.

As indicated on the Notice of Allegations and Investigation and detailed in the SOPs, the Decision-maker will not draw any adverse inference if you choose to remain silent during the investigation. But the decision-maker is free to draw inferences for selective participation if you choose to answer some questions but not others or participate in some portions of the student conduct process but not others.

The university encourages students to fully participate in an investigation.

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How am I ensured equitable treatment throughout the process?

The Formal Process is designed to ensure equitable treatment of both parties throughout the investigation and administrative conference. This means that both the Complainant and Respondent have the same opportunity to designate an advisor at any time during the resolution process; are informed of the outcome of the investigation simultaneously; and may appeal the decision and applicable sanctions.

In short, both parties enjoy the same protections and are subject to the same rules. In addition, both parties may appeal the decision of the Formal Process which would then go to an Appellate Officer for review for any possible procedural errors or bias that may have influenced the outcome. This is not a rubber stamp, but rather a rigorous review by a non-involved trained staff to ensure that the institution has met its burden of proof and followed its own process.

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