Participating in the Title IX Investigation Process as a Student Witness
The following information is provided to increase awareness and knowledge of the investigation process for witnesses, and to address some common questions and concerns regarding witness participation in the investigation process.
An investigation is part of the administrative process the University uses to determine whether University policy has been violated. The investigation is not a legal proceeding, and as a result, a Title IX investigation does not determine guilt or innocence relative to any local, state, or federal law.
In the Title IX investigation process, individuals bringing forward allegations are referred to as Complainants, and individuals responding to allegations are referred to as Respondents. Sometimes complainants and respondents are referred to individually as “a party” or jointly as “the parties.” Individuals who have direct experience with or knowledge of events, issues or circumstances related to the investigation, or with whom Complainants or Respondents want the investigator to speak, are referred to as witnesses.
The Role of the Investigator
The investigator is charged with gathering information and evidence, conducting an analysis of the evidence, and preparing an investigation report. The investigator the University assigns to conduct the investigation does not act as an advocate, provide advice to the University with respect to what actions, if any, should be taken as a result of facts and evidence gathered or provide any legal advice to parties involved in the investigation process.
Interviewing with the Investigator
When a witness meets with the investigator, the investigator will ask the witness questions related to the allegations, and may ask if the witness has any information to submit (e.g. documents, texts, emails, images, etc.) for the investigator to include in their report. In some cases, the investigator may ask to interview a witness more than once if additional information becomes available since the previous interview with the witness and/or to follow up with a witness to clarify information or previous statements.
While the investigator may ask a witness questions about what they may know or have observed, the investigator has a responsibility to protect the privacy of those involved as well as the integrity of the investigation and is not obligated to share investigation details with the witness. However, the investigator has the discretion to share specifics related to an allegation if they determine it is necessary to further information gathering or seek clarification of information already collected.
Notes and Recordings
The investigator will take notes during the interview. However, interviews with the investigator are not recorded, and no recording is permitted by anyone participating in the investigation process, including complainants, respondents, witnesses, and advisors.
The Intersection of Privacy for Witnesses and the Rights of Complainants and Respondents
The University protects the privacy of individuals who participate in the investigation process, including witnesses. This means that information about witnesses, including their identity and what information they share with the investigator is shared only with those individuals involved in the investigation and resolution of a complaint who have a need to know in order to fulfill a responsibility in the investigation and complaint resolution process. However, the University cannot and does not guarantee confidentiality or anonymity to anyone participating in the investigation process, including complainants and respondents.
To ensure fairness, the investigation process provides rights to both complainants and respondents to:
- know the allegations the investigation is seeking to resolve (the scope of the investigator’s inquiry); and,
- be offered a meaningful opportunity to respond to the information gathered during theinvestigation that will be used to analyze and determine whether University policy has been violated, and whether any action will be taken by the University against a respondent. As a result, in most cases, both the complainant and respondent will have knowledge of the information a witness shares with the investigator including the identity of the witness who shared the information.
Additionally, in order to conduct a thorough investigation, there may be times during the investigation when the investigator may be required to share information provided by one witness with other witnesses in order to facilitate the fact-gathering portion of the investigation.
Following the Interview with the Investigator
In order to preserve the privacy of complainants and respondents, the University does not share with witnesses the investigation report or the outcome of the investigation nor any sanction, discipline or any other UniversiThe University protects the privacy of individuals who participate in the investigation process, including witnesses. This means that information about witnesses, including their identity and what information they share with the investigator, is shared only with those individuals involved in the investigation and resolution of a complaint who have a need to know in order to fulfill a responsibility in the investigation and complaint resolution process. However, the University cannot and does not guarantee confidentiality or anonymity to anyone participating in the investigation process, including complainants and respondents.
To protect the privacy of all who are involved in the investigation process (including complainants, respondents, and witnesses), and to protect the integrity of the investigation process, witnesses involved in the investigation are asked to keep information learned during the investigation confidential and sharing such information with any third party is discouraged.
Witnesses should also be willing to participate in a live hearing and be prepared to submit to cross examination. Should a witness fail to appear for the live hearing, the hearing officer may disregard statements the witness provided during the investigation process.
The Decision to Participate in the Investigation Process
An investigation is the mechanism the University uses to determine whether its policies against discrimination and harassment have been violated and to correct and address violations that have occurred. Facts and evidence gathered by the investigator rely directly upon the information provided by the complainant, respondent, and witnesses, forming the foundation upon which the allegations are substantiated and upon which the outcome of the investigation is based. The investigation process relies on the willingness of individuals to participate.
Individuals identified as having information related to the allegations who refuse to participate in the investigation, are by extension withholding information that may be critical to the outcome of an investigation, and in turn a determination about whether University policy has been violated.
The University recognizes the difficulty of participating in an investigation and the concerns that
witnesses have for how their participation may influence or impact their personal life and relationships. Individuals who have such concerns are strongly encouraged to contact the Title IX Officer to discuss possible ways the University may help to prevent potential acts of retaliation, to respond to acts of retaliation that do occur, and/or work with a witness to provide mitigating solutions as appropriate and reasonable that may help a witness to participate in the investigation.
You have a right to participate in the investigation process free from retaliation.
The University prohibits all forms of retaliation against an individual who has engaged in a protected activity such as filing a discrimination or harassment complaint, making a verbal statement of discrimination or harassment, or being a witness in a discrimination or harassment complaint. Retaliation should be promptly reported to the Title IX Coordinator.
Questions and Clarification
If you have any questions or would like additional clarification regarding the investigation process, please contact the Title IX Office at (479) 575-7111 or email email@example.com.