Providing Evidence and Determining Witnesses

It is the responsibility of the university to gather evidence. Both parties will be asked to provide evidence and the names of potential witnesses to the investigator.

Providing Evidence as Part of an Investigation

Evidence can be any information that corroborates or contradicts the allegations. Both parties will have an equal opportunity to present evidence.

Examples of potential evidence:

  • Text messages between complainant and respondent
  • Voicemail messages
  • Snapchat screenshots
  • ·Photos of physical injuries
  •  Information from a party or witness

I am aware of evidence that could impact the decision about responsibility for the alleged conduct. What should I do?

During the investigation phase of the process, you may provide evidence to the investigator and you may suggest that the investigator obtain specific evidence, including the names of witnesses to be interviewed. You may bring evidence with you to your interview, and you may also email it to the investigator.

Per the University’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), both parties are expected to comply with requests from the investigator to provide relevant information or material from any source. Both parties expected to not delete, destroy or otherwise alter any relevant information or material. Failure to comply with this expectation may result in a negative inference as to the information or material destroyed or altered. You should let the investigator know about any evidence in the possession of another person which you believe is relevant and the investigator can then take steps to obtain that evidence and to prevent it from being lost or destroyed.

It is also important for witnesses with information that could impact the decision about responsibility for the alleged conduct to participate in an interview. The university endeavors to gather all information that is relevant to a determination of whether the alleged conduct occurred. Witnesses are critical to the University’s investigation.

Are there time limits on when I can provide and suggest evidence?

Parties are encouraged to provide all material information as soon as possible to facilitate a prompt resolution. The SOPs state that parties are expected to provide names, contact information, and a summary of expected information for any proposed witnesses, and any relevant documents, within 15 business days of receiving the Notice of Allegations. Evidence must be submitted before the close of fact-gathering in order to be included in the Evidence File. Evidence not submitted during fact-gathering should be submitted as part of the response to the Evidence File for inclusion in the Investigation Report.

Will I be able to see all of the evidence the investigator has gathered?

Evidence that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint will be made available for review by the parties as part of the Evidence File. Evidence that is relevant to the allegations raised in the formal complaint will be included in the Investigation Report. The SOPs describe how the investigator will determine whether evidence is relevant and will be included in the Investigation Report.

When does my interview need to take place in order for the decision-maker to consider the information I provide?

The University requires sufficient information to file a formal complaint. This means that either a Complainant or a witness to the alleged incident must participate in an initial interview and provide the information that is the basis of the formal complaint. Aside from this, you must be interviewed before the close of fact-gathering in order for the information you provide to be included in the Evidence File. If you decide that you are willing to participate in an interview after reviewing the Evidence File, let the investigator know. You can still participate in an interview up until a few days before the Investigation Report is scheduled to be released. All interviews must be completed a few days before the Investigation Report is released to allow time for the investigator to get the information into the Investigation Report.

If I did not participate in an interview during the investigation, can I still provide information at the Administrative Conference?

A party who does not provide information during the investigation phase of the process may still provide information at the Administrative Conference. This applies to both complainants and respondents.

Can I submit new documentary evidence at the Administrative Conference and can I ask a witness not interviewed by the investigator to provide information at the Administrative Conference?

Parties may not submit new documents (copies emails, texts, records of social media posts or other electronic records or communication) or introduce new witnesses after the Investigation Report without approval from the decision-maker. Parties can request approval by submitting a petition which demonstrates good cause why the document or witness was not submitted earlier. Petitions requesting to introduce new documents or witnesses at the Administrative Conference should be included with the party’s pre-Conference submissions. It is possible for the introduction of new evidence to result in a postponement of the Administrative Conference.

Determining Who to Propose as Witnesses

Who should I propose as my witnesses?

Parties should propose fact witnesses for the investigator to interview. Fact witnesses are persons who have knowledge of facts or circumstances concerning the allegations being investigated. A fact witnesses can be any person who:

  • saw or heard all or part of the alleged incident;
  • observed the condition of one or both parties near in time to when the alleged incident took place
  •  communicated with one or both parties about the alleged incident.
  •  has any other knowledge of facts or circumstances or who can provide evidence that makes it more or less likely that the conduct occurred as alleged.

Witnesses who do not have direct knowledge about the allegations being investigated and who would speak only to character (e.g. positive or negative character traits or reputation in the community) are likely to be given less weight by the decision-maker.

To decide who you may want to propose as a witness, think about who was present for any part of the alleged incident(s). Any person who may have seen or heard any or all of what occurred, any person who saw or communicated with you or the other party around the time of the alleged incident(s) may have relevant information, as well as any person who you or the other party may have spoken to or communicated with via text message, social media, or other electronic means about the events underlying the allegations(s).

How do I let the investigator know who I have chosen as my witnesses?

During the investigation you may propose witnesses for the investigator to interview. You can provide this information to the investigator during your interview, or you can email the investigator with this information. It is helpful if you let the investigator know what information you believe can be obtained from each witness.

I am concerned that the individuals I am proposing as witnesses may have forgotten information. Should I talk to them before they are interviewed in order to refresh their recollection?

No. It is best that you not try to refresh a witnesses’ recollection. If you provide them with your perspective on the incident(s) or refresh their recollection, it could be difficult for the Decision-maker to tell what information the witness actually remembered themselves versus what you told them. This may lead the Decision-maker to give less weight to information from that witness.