Policy FH Full PDF Version

In compliance with the State of Texas Education Code Section 1, Section 51.9363, this policy is required to be reviewed by South Plains College each biennium, and with approval of the Board of Regents, revise the policy as necessary.

As used in this document, the term “reporting party” refers to the person impacted by alleged discrimination. The term “responding party” refers to the person who has allegedly engaged in discrimination.

Applicable Scope

South Plains College affirms its commitment to promote the goals of fairness and equity in all aspects of the educational enterprise. All policies below are subject to resolution using the College’s Equity Resolution Process (ERP) as detailed below.  When the responding party is a member of the College community, the ERP is applicable regardless of the status of the reporting party who may be a member or non-member of the campus community, including students, student organizations, faculty, administrators, staff, guests, visitors, campers, etc. 

Title IX Coordinator

The Vice President for Student Affairs serves as the Title IX Coordinator and ADA/504 Coordinator and oversees implementation of the College’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity plan, disability compliance and the College’s policy on equal opportunity, harassment and nondiscrimination. The Title IX Coordinator heads the Title IX Team and acts with independence and authority free of conflicts of interest. To raise any concern involving a conflict of interest by the Title IX Coordinator, contact the College President at (806) 716-2201.  To raise concerns regarding a potential conflict of interest with any other administrator involved in the ERP, please contact the Title IX Coordinator.

Inquiries about and reports regarding this policy and procedure may be made internally to:

Stan DeMerritt, Ph.D.

Title IX Coordinator

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs

1401 S. College Avenue

Student Services Building

Levelland, TX  79336

(806) 716-2360 complaints@southplainscollege.edu

 

Deputy Title IX Coordinators:

Ms. Jeri Ann Dewbre

Director of Human Resources

(806) 716-2111

jdewbre@southplainscollege.edu

 

Ms. Kara Martinez

Dean of the Reese Center

(806) 716-4700

kmartinez@southplainscollege.edu

 

Mr. Ben Alexander

Executive Director of the Lubbock Center

(806) 716-4608

balexander@southplainscollege.edu

 

Ms. Jolee Dietrich

Director of the Plainview Center

(806) 716-2301

jdeitrich@southplainscollege.edu

Inquiries may be made externally to:

Office for Civil Rights (OCR) – Dallas, Texas Office

1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620

Dallas, TX  75201-6810

Customer Service Hotline: (800) 421-3481

Telephone: (214) 661-9600

Facsimile: (214) 661-9587

TDD: (800) 877-8339

Email: OCR.Dallas@ed.gov

Web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr

 

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202-1100
Customer Service Hotline: (800) 421-3481

Facsimile: (202) 453-6012 
TDD: (877) 521-2172

Email: OCR@ed.gov

Web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr

 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – El Paso Area Office

100 Stanton Towers

100 N. Stanton Street, Suite 600

El Paso, TX 79901-1433

Telephone: (800) 669-4000

Facsimile: (915) 534-6701

TTY: (800) 669-6820

ASL Video Phone: (844) 234-5122

Online inquiry/appointment scheduler: https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/portal/

Web: http://www.eeoc.gov

Reporting Discrimination

Reports of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation may be made using any of the following options.  There is no time limitation on the filing of allegations. However, if the responding party is no longer subject to the College’s jurisdiction, the ability to investigate, respond and provide remedies may be more limited:

1) Report directly to the Title IX Coordinator or deputies noted above 

2) Report online, using the reporting form posted at   http://www.southplainscollege.edu/about/campussafety/complaints.php; and/or

3) Report using the sexual harassment hotline (806) 716-2396.

All reports are acted upon promptly while every effort is made by the College to preserve the privacy of reports. Such reports may also be anonymous. Anonymous reports will be investigated to determine if remedies can be provided. Additionally, all employees of the College are designated as mandated reporters and will share a report with the Title IX Coordinator promptly. Confidentiality and mandated reporting is addressed more specifically below. Reports of misconduct or discrimination committed by the Title IX Coordinator should be reported to the College President at (806) 716-2201. 

Jurisdiction

See Attachment A – ATIXA Rubric for Determining Jurisdiction

This policy applies to behaviors that take place on the campus, at College-sponsored events and may apply off-campus and to actions online, when the Title IX Coordinator determines that the off-campus conduct affects a substantial College interest. A substantial College interest is defined to include:

a) Any action that constitutes a criminal offense as defined by law. This includes, but is not limited to, single or repeat violations of any local, state or federal law;

b) Any situation where it appears that the responding party may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of self or others;

c) Any situation that significantly impinges upon the rights, property or achievements of self or others or significantly breaches the peace and/or causes social disorder; and/or

d) Any situation that is detrimental to the educational interests of the College.

Any online postings or other electronic communication by students, including cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, cyber-harassment, etc. occurring completely outside of the College’s control (e.g. not on College networks, websites or between College email accounts) will only be subject to this policy when those online behaviors can be shown to cause a substantial on-campus disruption. Otherwise, such communications are considered speech protected by the United State Constitution’s First Amendment. Remedies for such conduct will be provided, but protected speech cannot be legally subjected to discipline.

Off-campus discriminatory or harassing speech by employees may be regulated by the College only when such speech is made in an employee’s official or work-related capacity.

 

1.  College Policy on Nondiscrimination 

South Plains College adheres to all federal and state civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in public institutions of higher education. South Plains College will not discriminate against any employee, applicant for employment, student or applicant for admission on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or any other protected category under applicable local, state or federal law, including protections for those opposing discrimination or participating in any resolution process on campus or within the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or other human rights agencies. 

This policy covers nondiscrimination in employment and in access to educational opportunities. Therefore, any member of the campus community who acts to deny, deprive or limit the educational, employment, residential and/or social access, benefits and/or opportunities of any member of the campus community, guest or visitor on the basis of their actual or perceived membership in the protected classes listed above is in violation of the College policy on nondiscrimination.  When brought to the attention of the College, any such discrimination will be appropriately addressed and remedied by the College according to the Equity Resolution Process described below. Non-members of the campus community who engage in discriminatory actions within South Plains College programs or on College property are not under the jurisdiction of this policy, but can be subject to actions that limit their access and/or involvement with College programs as the result of their misconduct. All vendors serving the College through third-party contracts are subject by those contracts to the policies and procedures of their employers or to these policies and procedures, to which their employer has agreed to be bound.

2. College Policy on Accommodation of Disabilities

South Plains College is committed to full compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA and ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities, as well as other federal and state laws pertaining to individuals with disabilities.  Under the ADA and its amendments, a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.  The ADA also protects individuals who have a record of a substantially limiting impairment or who are regarded as disabled by the institution whether qualified or not.  A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking or caring for oneself. 

The Vice President for Student Affairs has been designated as the ADA/504 Coordinator responsible for coordinating efforts to comply with these disability laws, including investigation of any allegation of noncompliance. 

a. Students with Disabilities (see SPC Policy FP Services for Students with Disabilities)

South Plains College is committed to providing qualified students with disabilities with reasonable accommodations and support needed to ensure equal access to the academic programs and activities of the College.

All accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.  A student requesting any accommodation should first contact the Office of Disability Services whom coordinates services for students with disabilities.  The Coordinator of Disability Services reviews documentation provided by the student and, in consultation with the student, determines which accommodations are appropriate to the student’s particular needs and academic programs.

b.  Employees with Disabilities

Pursuant to the ADA, South Plains College will provide reasonable accommodation(s) to all qualified employees with known disabilities, where their disability affects the performance of their essential job functions, except where doing so would be unduly disruptive or would result in undue hardship.

Please see SPC Policy DAA Americans with Disabilities Act for more information.

3.  College Policy on Discriminatory Harassment (see SPC Policy DDE Employee Conduct and Work Rules for additional information related to unacceptable employee conduct)

Students and employees are entitled to a working environment and educational environment free of discriminatory harassment. South Plains College’s harassment policy is not meant to inhibit or prohibit educational content or discussions inside or outside of the classroom that include germane, but controversial or sensitive subject matters protected by academic freedom. The sections below describe the specific forms of legally prohibited harassment that are also prohibited under College policy.

 

a. Discriminatory and Bias-Related Harassment

Harassment constitutes a form of discrimination that is prohibited by College policy as well as the law. South Plains College condemns and will not tolerate discriminatory harassment against any employee, student, visitor or guest on the basis of any status protected by policy or law. SPC will remedy all forms of harassment when reported, whether or not the harassment rises to the level of creating a hostile environment.  When harassment rises to the level of creating a hostile environment, SPC may also impose sanctions on the harasser through application of the Equity Resolution Process. SPC’s harassment policy explicitly prohibits any form of harassment, defined as unwelcome conduct on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a protected class, by any member or group of the community.

A hostile environment may be created by harassing verbal, written, graphic, or physical conduct that is severe or persistent/pervasive, and objectively offensive such that it interferes with, limits or denies the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from educational programs or activities or employment access, benefits or opportunities. 

The College reserves the right to address offensive conduct and/or harassment that 1) does not rise to the level of creating a hostile environment, or 2) that is of a generic nature not on the basis of a protected status. Addressing such behaviors may not result in the imposition of discipline under College policy, but will be addressed through respectful confrontation, remedial actions, education and/or effective conflict resolution mechanisms.  For assistance with conflict resolution techniques, employees should contact the Director of Human Resources and students should contact the Dean of Students or respective center Director or Dean. 

b. Sexual Harassment

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the State of Texas regard sexual harassment as a form of sex/gender discrimination and, therefore, as an unlawful discriminatory practice.  South Plains College has adopted the following definition of sexual harassment, in order to address the special environment of an academic community, which consists not only of employer and employees, but of students as well.

Sexual harassment is:

            • unwelcome,
            • sexual, sex-based and/or gender-based,
            • verbal, written, online and/or physical conduct.

 

Anyone experiencing sexual harassment in any SPC program is encouraged to report it immediately to the Title IX Coordinator or a deputy. Remedies, education and/or training will be provided in response.

Sexual harassment may be disciplined when it takes the form of quid pro quo harassment, retaliatory harassment and/or creates a hostile environment.  

A hostile environment is created when sexual harassment is:

            • Severe, or
            • persistent or pervasive, and
            • objectively offensive, such that it:
    • in the educational context, the conduct interferes with a students’ ability to participate in or benefit from educational programs or activities. 
    • in the employment context, unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work/learning environment.

 

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a person having power or authority over another constitutes sexual harassment when submission to such sexual conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of rating or evaluating an individual’s educational development or performance.

 

Some examples of possible Sexual Harassment include:

    •  A professor insists that a student have sex with him/her in exchange for a good grade. This is harassment regardless of whether the student accedes to the request and irrespective of whether a good grade is promised or a bad grade is threatened.
    • A student repeatedly sends sexually oriented jokes around on an email list s/he created, even when asked to stop, causing one recipient to avoid the sender on campus and in the residence hall in which they both live. 
    • Explicit sexual pictures are displayed in a professor’s office or on the exterior of a residence hall door.
    • Two supervisors frequently ‘rate’ several employees’ bodies and sex appeal, commenting suggestively about their clothing and appearance.
    • A professor engages students in her class in discussions about their past sexual experiences, yet the conversation is not in any way germane to the subject matter of the class.  She probes for explicit details, and demands that students answer her, though they are clearly uncomfortable and hesitant. 
    • An ex-girlfriend widely spreads false stories about her sex life with her former boyfriend to the clear discomfort of the boyfriend, turning him into a social pariah on campus.
    • Male students take to calling a particular brunette student “Monica” because of her resemblance to Monica Lewinsky.  Soon, everyone adopts this nickname for her, and she is the target of relentless remarks about cigars, the president, “sexual relations” and Weight Watchers.
    • A student grabbed another student by the hair, then grabbed her breast and put his mouth on it.  While this is sexual harassment, it is also a form of sexual violence. 

c.  Sexual Misconduct

State law defines various violent and/or non-consensual sexual acts as crimes. While some of these acts may have parallels in criminal law, South Plains College has defined categories of sex/gender discrimination as sexual misconduct, as stated below, for which action under this policy may be imposed. Generally speaking, SPC considers Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse violations to be the most serious of these offenses, and therefore typically imposes the most severe sanctions, including suspension or expulsion for students and termination for employees. However, SPC reserves the right to impose any level of sanction, ranging from a reprimand up to and including suspension or expulsion/termination, for any act of sexual misconduct or other sex/gender-based offenses, including intimate partner (dating and/or domestic) violence, non-consensual sexual contact and/or stalking based on the facts and circumstances of the particular allegation. Acts of sexual misconduct may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity of those involved. Violations include:

i. Sexual Harassment (as defined in section b above)

ii. Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse/Sexual Assault

Defined by the State of Texas in Education Code 51.9365 as:

Sexual contact or intercourse with a person without the person’s consent including sexual contact or intercourse against the person’s will or in a circumstance in which the person is incapable of consenting to the contact or intercourse.    

Sexual intercourse includes:

Vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger or object, or oral copulation (mouth to genital contact) no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

iii. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact

Defined by the State of Texas in Education Code 51.9365 as:

Sexual contact or intercourse with a person without the person’s consent including sexual contact or intercourse against the person’s will or in a circumstance in which the person is incapable of consenting to the contact or intercourse.    

Sexual touching includes:

    • Intentional contact with the breasts, groin, or genitals, mouth or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts; or
    •  Any other bodily contact in a sexual manner.

iv. Sexual Exploitation

Sexual Exploitation refers to a situation in which a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another, and that behavior does not otherwise fall within the definitions of Sexual Harassment, Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse or Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. Examples of Sexual Exploitation include, but are not limited to:

    • Sexual voyeurism (such as watching a person undressing, using the bathroom or engaged in sexual acts without the consent of the person observed).
    • Invasion of sexual privacy.
    • Taking pictures or video or audio recording another in a sexual act, or in any other private activity without the consent of all involved in the activity, or exceeding the boundaries of consent (such as allowing another person to hide in a closet and observe sexual activity, or disseminating sexual pictures without the photographed person’s consent).
    • Prostitution.
    • Sexual exploitation also includes engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection (STI) without informing the other person of the infection.
    • Administering alcohol or drugs (such as “date rape” drugs) to another person without his or her knowledge or consent (assuming the act is not completed).
    • Exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances.
    • Sexually-based stalking and/or bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation.

v. Force, Consent and Incapacitation

Force: (See Texas Penal Code Title 4, Subtitle A, Chapter 71, Section 71.0021) Force is the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent (“Have sex with me or I’ll hit you.” “Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.”).   

Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity.  Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another.  When someone makes clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive. 

NOTE: Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. There is no requirement on a party to resist the sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. The presence of consent is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.

Consent: (See Texas Penal Code Title 1, Chapter 1, Sec. 1.07, 19) Consent is knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct. Consent can be withdrawn once given, as long as the withdrawal is clearly communicated.

Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). A current or previous dating relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent. The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar previous patterns that may be evidenced.

Incapacitation: A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs. An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is physically or mentally incapacitated has violated this policy. 

It is not an excuse that the responding party was intoxicated and, therefore, did not realize the incapacity of the reporting party.

Incapacitation is defined as a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing/informed consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction). This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, involuntary physical restraint and/or from the taking of incapacitating drugs.

In the State of Texas, a minor (meaning a person under the age of 18 years) cannot consent to sexual activity. This means that sexual contact by an adult with a person younger than 18 years old may be a crime, and a potential violation of this policy, even if the minor wanted to engage in the act. 

 

Examples of lack of consent:

1. Amanda and Bill meet at a party.  They spend the evening dancing and getting to know each other.  Bill convinces Amanda to come up to his room.  From 11:00pm until 3:00am, Bill uses every line he can think of to convince Amanda to have sex with him, but she adamantly refuses.  He keeps at her, begins to question her religious convictions, and accuses her of being “a prude.”   Finally, it seems to Bill that her resolve is weakening, and he convinces her to give him a "hand job" (hand to genital contact).  Amanda would never had done it but for Bill's incessant advances.   He feels that he successfully seduced her, and that she wanted to do it all along, but was playing shy and hard to get.  Why else would she have come up to his room alone after the party?  If she really did not want it, she could have left.  Bill is responsible for violating the college Non-Consensual Sexual Contact policy. It is likely that campus decision-makers would find that the degree and duration of the pressure Bill applied to Amanda are unreasonable.  Bill coerced Amanda into performing unwanted sexual touching upon him.  Where sexual activity is coerced, it is forced.  Consent is not valid when forced.  Sex without consent is sexual misconduct.

2. Jiang is a sophomore at the college.  Beth is a freshman.  Jiang comes to Beth’s residence hall room with some mutual friends to watch a movie.  Jiang and Beth, who have never met before, are attracted to each other.  After the movie, everyone leaves, and Jiang and Beth are alone.  They hit it off, and are soon becoming more intimate.  They start to make out.  Jiang verbally expresses his desire to have sex with Beth.  Beth, who was abused by a baby-sitter when she was five, and has not had any sexual relations since, is shocked at how quickly things are progressing.  As Jiang takes her by the wrist over to the bed, lays her down, undresses her, and begins to have intercourse with her, Beth has a severe flashback to her childhood trauma.  She wants to tell Jiang to stop, but cannot.  Beth is stiff and unresponsive during the intercourse.  Is this a policy violation? Jiang would be held responsible in this scenario for Non Consensual Sexual Intercourse.  It is the duty of the sexual initiator, Jiang, to make sure that he has mutually understandable consent to engage in sex.  Though consent need not be verbal, it is the clearest form of consent.  Here, Jiang had no verbal or non-verbal mutually understandable indication from Beth that she consented to sexual intercourse.  Of course, wherever possible, it is important to be as clear as possible as to whether or not sexual contact is desired, and to be aware that for psychological reasons, or because of alcohol or drug use, one’s partner may not be in a position to provide as clear an indication as the policy requires.  As the policy makes clear, consent must be actively, not passively, given.

3. Kevin and John are at a party.  Kevin is not sure how much John has been drinking, but he is pretty sure it’s a lot. After the party, he walks John to his room, and John comes on to Kevin, initiating sexual activity.  Kevin asks him if he is really up to this, and John says yes.  Clothes go flying, and they end up in John’s bed.  Suddenly, John runs for the bathroom.  When he returns, his face is pale, and Kevin thinks he may have thrown up.  John gets back into bed, and they begin to have sexual intercourse.  Kevin is having a good time, though he can’t help but notice that John seems pretty groggy and passive, and he thinks John may have even passed out briefly during the sex, but he does not let that stop him. When Kevin runs into John the next day, he thanks him for the wild night. John remembers nothing, and decides to make a report to the Dean.  This is a violation of the Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse Policy.  Kevin should have known that John was incapable of making a rational, reasonable decision about sex.  Even if John seemed to consent, Kevin was well aware that John had consumed a large amount of alcohol, and Kevin thought John was physically ill, and that he passed out during sex.  Kevin should be held accountable for taking advantage of John in his condition.  This is not the level of respectful conduct the college expects.

 

4. Other Civil Rights Offenses

In addition to the forms of sexual misconduct described above, the following behaviors are also prohibited as forms of discrimination when the act is based upon the reporting party’s actual or perceived membership in a protected class.

    • Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person;
    • Discrimination, defined as actions that deprive, limit or deny other members of the community of educational or employment access, benefits or opportunities;
    •  Intimidation, defined as implied threats or acts that cause an unreasonable fear of harm in another;
    • Hazing, defined as acts likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within the college community, when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining, or any other group-affiliation activity (as defined further in the Hazing Policy);
    • Bullying, defined as
    • Repeated and/or severe
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control or diminish another person, physically or mentally
    • That is not speech or conduct otherwise protected by the First Amendment.
    • Intimate Partner Violence or Dating Violence, as defined by the State of Texas Education Code 51.9365, is abuse or violence, or a threat of abuse or violence, against a person with whom the respondent has or has had a social relationship of romantic or intimate nature. 
    • Examples:
      • A boyfriend shoves his girlfriend into a wall upon seeing her talking to a male friend. This physical assault based in jealousy is a violation of the Intimate Partner Violence policy.
      • An ex-girlfriend shames her female partner, threatening to out her as a lesbian if she doesn’t give the ex another chance. Psychological abuse is a form of Intimate Partner Violence.
      • A graduate student refuses to wear a condom and forces his girlfriend to take hormonal birth control though it makes her ill, in order to prevent pregnancy. 
      • Married employees are witnessed in the parking garage, with one partner slapping and scratching the other in the midst of an argument.
      • Stalking

The State of Texas (Education Code 61.003) defines stalking as:

A course of conduct directed at a person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or to suffer substantial emotional distress.

 

South Plains College allows for two levels of stalking, which are often based on levels of severe, persistent/pervasive behaviors. 

    • Stalking 1:
      •  A course of conduct
      •  Directed at a specific person
      •  On the basis of actual or perceived membership in a protected class
      •  That is unwelcome, AND
      •  Would cause a reasonable person to feel fear
    • Stalking 2:
      • Repetitive and Menacing
      •  Pursuit, following, harassing and/or interfering with the peace and/or safety of another

 

Examples of Stalking

      • A student repeatedly shows up at another student's on-campus residence, always notifying the front desk attendant that they are there to see the resident. Upon a call to the resident, the student informs residence hall staff that this visitor is uninvited and continuously attempts to see them, even so far as waiting for them outside of classes and showing up to their on-campus place of employment requesting that they go out on a date together (Stalking 1).
      • A graduate student working as an on-campus tutor received flowers and gifts delivered to their office. After learning the gifts were from a student they recently tutored, the graduate student thanked the student and stated that it was not necessary and would appreciate if the gift deliveries stop. The student then started leaving notes of love and gratitude on the graduate assistant's car, both on-campus and at home. Asked again to stop, the student stated by email: “You can ask me to stop, but I’m not giving up. We are meant to be together, and I’ll do anything necessary to make you have the feelings for me that I have for you.” When the tutor did not respond, the student emailed again, “You cannot escape me. I will track you to the ends of the earth. We are meant to be together” (Stalking 2).

 

Any other College policies may fall within this section when a violation is motivated by the actual or perceived membership of the reporting party’s sex or gender.

Sanctions for the above-listed “Other Civil Rights Behaviors” behaviors range from reprimand through expulsion (students) or termination of employment.

 

5. Retaliation

Retaliation is defined as any adverse action taken against a person participating in a protected activity because of their participation in that protected activity. Retaliation against an individual for alleging harassment, supporting a party bringing an allegation or for assisting in providing information relevant to a claim of harassment is a serious violation of South Plains College policy and will be treated as another possible instance of harassment or discrimination. Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator and will be promptly investigated.  South Plains College is prepared to take appropriate steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.

 

Examples of Retaliation:

      • Student-athlete A files an allegation against a coach for sexual harassment; the coach subsequently cuts the student-athlete’s playing time in half without a legitimate justification
      • A faculty member complains of gender inequity in pay within her department; the Department Chair then revokes his prior approval allowing her to attend a national conference, citing the faculty member’s tendency to “ruffle feathers.”
      • A student from Organization A participates in a sexual misconduct hearing against the responding individual – also a member of Organization A; the student is subsequently removed as a member of Organization A because he participated in the hearing.

 

6.  Remedial Action

Upon notice of alleged discrimination, South Plains College will implement initial remedial, responsive and/or protective actions upon notice of alleged harassment, retaliation and/or discrimination. Such actions could include but are not limited to: no contact orders, providing counseling and/or medical services, academic support, living arrangement adjustments, transportation accommodations, visa and immigration assistance, student financial aid counseling, providing a campus escort, academic or work schedule and assignment accommodations, safety planning, referral to campus and community support resources.

SPC will take additional prompt remedial and/or disciplinary action with respect to any member of the community, guest or visitor upon a finding that they have engaged in harassing or discriminatory behavior or retaliation. 

The College will maintain as confidential any accommodations or protective measures, provided confidentiality does not impair the College’s ability to provide the accommodations or protective measures.

Procedures for handling reported incidents are fully described below.

 

7.  Confidentiality and Reporting of Offenses under This Policy

All South Plains College employees (faculty, staff, and administrators) are expected to report actual or suspected discrimination or harassment to appropriate officials immediately, though there are some limited exceptions. In order to make informed choices, it is important to be aware of confidentiality and mandatory reporting requirements when consulting campus resources. On campus, some resources may maintain confidentiality – meaning they are not required to report actual or suspected discrimination or harassment to appropriate college officials – thereby offering options and advice without any obligation to inform an outside agency or campus official unless a reporting party has requested information to be shared. Other resources exist for reporting parties to report crimes and policy violations and these resources will take action when an incident is reported to them. The following describes the reporting options at SPC:

      1. a. Confidential Reporting

If a reporting party would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, the reporting party may speak with:

    • On-campus licensed professional counselors and staff
    • On-campus health service providers and staff
    • On-campus Victim Advocates
    • Athletic trainers if licensed, privileged under state statute and/or working under the supervision of a health professional
    • Off-campus (non-employees):
    • Licensed professional counselors
    • Local rape crisis counselors
    • Domestic violence resources
    • Local or state assistance agencies
    • Clergy/Chaplains

 

All of the above-listed individuals will maintain confidentiality except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or abuse of a minor. Campus counselors (for student) and/or the Employee Assistance Program (for employees) are available to help free of charge and can be seen on an emergency basis during normal business hours.  College employees listed above will submit anonymous statistical information for Clery Act purposes unless they believe it would be harmful to their client, patient or parishioner.   

b. Formal Reporting Options

All South Plains College employees have a duty to report, unless they fall under the “Confidential Reporting” section above.  Reporting parties may want to consider carefully whether they share personally identifiable details with non-confidential employees, as those details must be shared with the Title IX Coordinator. Employees must promptly share all details of the reports they receive. Generally, climate surveys, classroom writing assignments or discussions, human subjects research, or events or speak-outs do not provide notice that must be reported to the Coordinator by employees, unless the reporting party clearly indicates that they wish a report to be made. Remedial actions may result from such disclosures without formal SPC action.

If a reporting party does not wish for their name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place, or does not want a formal resolution to be pursued, the reporting party may make such a request to the Title IX Coordinator, who will evaluate that request in light of the duty to ensure the safety of the campus and comply with federal law.  Note that the SPC’s ability to remedy and respond to a reported incident may be limited if the reporting party does not want the institution to proceed with an investigation and/or the Equity Resolution Process.

In cases indicating pattern, predation, threat, weapons and/or violence, the SPC will likely be unable to honor a request for confidentiality.  In cases where the reporting party requests confidentiality and the circumstances allow the SPC to honor that request, the College will offer interim supports and remedies to the reporting party and the community, but will not otherwise pursue formal action. A reporting party has the right, and can expect, to have allegations taken seriously by SPC when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through these procedures.

Formal reporting still affords privacy to the reporter, and only a small group of officials who need to know will be told, including but not limited to: Vice President for Student Affairs/Title IX Coordinator/504 Coordinator, Director of Human Resources, Dean of Students or Director or Dean of an external center, Campus Police, and the CARE (Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation) Team. Information will be shared as necessary with investigators, witnesses and the responding party. The circle of people with this knowledge will be kept as tight as possible to preserve a reporting party’s rights and privacy. Additionally, anonymous reports can be made by victims and/or third parties using the online reporting form posted at http://www.southplainscollege.edu/about/campussafety/complaints.php, or the reporting hotline at 806-716-2396. Note that these anonymous reports may prompt a need for the institution to investigate.]

Failure of a non-confidential employee, as described in this section, to report an incident or incidents of sex/gender harassment or discrimination of which they become aware is a violation of College policy and can be subject to disciplinary action. 

 

8.  Federal Timely Warning Obligations

Parties reporting sexual misconduct should be aware that under the Clery Act, South Plains College administrators must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The College will ensure that a victim’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger.

 

9.  False Allegations

Deliberately false and/or malicious accusations under this policy, as opposed to allegations which, even if erroneous, are made in good faith, are a serious offense and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

 

10.  Amnesty for Reporting Party and Witnesses

The South Plains College community encourages the reporting of misconduct and crimes by reporting parties and witnesses. Sometimes, reporting parties or witnesses are hesitant to report to College officials or participate in resolution processes because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident.  It is in the best interests of this community that reporting parties choose to report to SPC officials, and that witnesses come forward to share what they know.  To encourage reporting, SPC pursues a policy of offering reporting parties and witnesses amnesty from minor policy violations related to the incident. 

 

Students: Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a sexual misconduct victim to the Campus Police). The College pursues a policy of amnesty for students who offer help to others in need. While policy violations cannot be overlooked, the college will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.

 

11. Parental Notification (allegations involving students)

 The College reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status or conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations.  The college may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under age 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations. Where a student is non-dependent, the College will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant and articulable health and/or safety risk. The College also reserves the right to designate which SPC officials have a need to know about incidents that fall within this policy, pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

 

12.  Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations

Certain campus officials – those deemed Campus Security Authorities per Policies HHB and HHE - have a duty to report sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking for federal statistical reporting purposes (Clery Act).  All personally identifiable information is kept confidential, but statistical information must be passed along to campus law enforcement regarding the type of incident and its general location (on or off-campus, in the surrounding area, but no addresses are given) for publication in the Annual Security Report. The incident can be reported online at http://www.southplainscollege.edu/about/campussafety/complaints.php and then selecting the Campus Security Authority Report.  The Annual Security Report helps to provide the community with a clear picture of the extent and nature of campus crime, to ensure greater community safety. Mandated federal reporters are outlined in Policy HHE.  The information to be shared includes the date, the location of the incident (using Clery location categories) and the Clery crime category. This reporting protects the identity of the victim and may be done anonymously.

Equity RESOLUTION Process for ALLEGATIONS of Harassment, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT and OTHER FORMS OF Discrimination

 

South Plains College will act on any formal or informal allegation or notice of violation of this policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination, that is received by the Title IX Coordinator or a member of the administration, faculty, or other employee.

 

The procedures described below apply to all allegations of harassment or discrimination on the basis of protected class involving students, staff or faculty members with the exception of at-will employees. These procedures may also be used to address collateral misconduct occurring in conjunction with harassing or discriminatory conduct (e.g.: vandalism, physical abuse of another, etc.). All other allegations of misconduct unrelated to incidents covered by this policy will be addressed through the procedures elaborated in the respective student, faculty and staff handbooks and policies.

 

Overview

Upon notice to the Title IX Coordinator, this resolution process involves a prompt preliminary inquiry to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the nondiscrimination policy has been violated. If so, the College will initiate a confidential investigation that is thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt and fair. The investigation and the subsequent resolution process determines whether the nondiscrimination policy has been violated. If so, the College will promptly implement effective remedies designed to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.

 

1.  Equity Resolution Process (ERP)

Allegations under the policy on nondiscrimination are resolved using the ERP. Members of the ERP pool are announced in an annual distribution of this policy to campus, prospective students, their parents and prospective employees.  The list of members and a description of the panel is available in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.  Members of the ERP pool are trained in all aspects of the resolution process, and can serve in any of the following roles, at the direction of the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases):

 

      • To provide sensitive intake for and initial advice pertaining to allegations
      • To serve in a mediation or restorative justice role in conflict resolution
      • To investigate allegations
      • To act as process advocates to those involved in the Equity Resolution Process
      • To serve on hearing panels for allegations
      • To serve on appeal panels for allegations

 

ERP pool members also recommend proactive policies, and serve in an educative role for the community. The President, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator and the Deputy Title IX Coordinators, appoints the ERP pool, which reports to the Title IX Coordinator in collaboration with the Director of Human Resources. ERP pool members receive annual training organized by the Title IX Coordinator, including a review of College policies and procedures as well as applicable federal and state laws and regulations so that they are able to appropriately address allegations, provide accurate information to members of the community, protect safety and promote accountability. This training will include, but is not limited to: how to appropriately remedy, investigate, render findings and determine appropriate sanctions in reference to all forms of harassment and discrimination allegations; the College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policies and Procedures (including Sexual Misconduct); confidentiality and privacy; and applicable laws, regulations and federal regulatory guidance. All ERP pool members are required to attend this annual training.

The ERP pool will include a representative set of employees of the college. Appointments to the pool should be made with attention to representation of groups protected by the harassment and non-discrimination policy. Individuals who are interested in serving in the pool are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources.

 

2.  Reporting Misconduct

Any member of the community, guest or visitor who believes that the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination has been violated should contact the Vice President for Student Affairs/Title IX Coordinator.

It is also possible for employees to notify a supervisor, or for students to notify an administrative advisor or faculty member. Any member of the community, including visitors, may contact SPC Campus Police Department to make a report.  The SPC PD will in turn notify the Vice President for Student Affairs/Title IX Coordinator.  The South Plains College website also includes a reporting form at http://www.southplainscollege.edu/about/campussafety/complaints.php, which may serve to initiate the resolution process.

All employees receiving reports of a potential violation of this policy are expected to promptly contact the Vice President for Student Affairs/Title IX Coordinator or the Director for Human Resources, within 24 hours of becoming aware of a report or incident.  All initial contacts will be treated with privacy: specific information on any allegations received by any party will be reported to the Title IX Coordinator, but, subject to the College’s obligation to redress violations, every effort will be made to maintain the privacy of those initiating an allegation. In all cases, SPC will give consideration to the reporting party with respect to how the reported misconduct is pursued, but reserves the right, when necessary to protect the community, to investigate and pursue a resolution even when a reporting party chooses not to initiate or participate in the resolution process. 

 

3. Preliminary Inquiry

Following receipt of notice or a report of misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator assigns the case to a Title IX investigator who engages in a preliminary inquiry to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the nondiscrimination policy has been violated. The preliminary inquiry is typically 1-3 days in duration. This inquiry may also serve to help the Title IX Coordinator and/or Director of Human Resources to determine if the allegations evidence violence, threat, pattern, predation and/or weapon, in the event that the reporting party has asked for no action to be taken.  In any case where violence, threat, pattern, predation, and/or weapon is not evidenced, the Title IX Coordinator may respect a reporting party’s request for no action, and will investigate only so far as necessary to determine appropriate remedies. As necessary, South Plains College reserves the right to initiate resolution proceedings without a formal report or participation by the reporting party. 

 

In cases where the reporting party wishes to proceed or SPC determines it must proceed, and the preliminary inquiry shows that reasonable cause exists, the Title IX Coordinator will charge the Title IX investigator to direct a formal investigation to commence and the allegation will be resolved through one of three processes discussed briefly here and in greater detail below:

      • Conflict Resolution – typically used for less serious offenses and only when both parties agree to conflict resolution
      • Informal Resolution – a resolution without a hearing panel, or
      • Formal Resolution – a resolution of contested allegations with a hearing panel.

 

The process followed considers the preference of the parties, but is ultimately determined at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator. Conflict Resolution may only occur if selected by all parties. The parties can elect for Informal Resolution, but Informal Resolution may also apply if the responding party accepts responsibility for all alleged violations of policy. If either party or both parties select Formal Resolution, or the Title IX Coordinator determines that Formal Resolution is appropriate, the allegation will be addressed using the Formal Resolution option.

If conflict resolution is desired by the reporting party, and appears appropriate given the nature of the alleged behavior, then the report does not proceed to investigation, unless a pattern of misconduct is suspected or there is an actual or perceived threat of further harm to the community or any of its members.

Once a formal investigation is commenced, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notification of the investigation to the parties at an appropriate time during the investigation. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person; mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official South Plains College records; or emailed to the parties’ SPC-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.  The reporting party is typically copied on such correspondence. 

During the investigation process, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the President of the College of the status of the case.

South Plains College aims to complete all investigations within a sixty (60) calendar daytime period, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX Coordinator with notice to the parties as appropriate.

If, during the preliminary inquiry or at any point during the formal investigation, the Title IX Coordinator determines that there is no reasonable cause to believe that policy has been violated, the process will end unless the reporting party requests that the Title IX Coordinator makes an extraordinary determination to re-open the investigation or to forward the matter for a hearing. This decision lies in the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator.

 

4.  Interim Remedies/Actions

The Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources as appropriate, may provide interim remedies intended to address the short-term effects of harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation, i.e., to redress harm to the reporting party and the community and to prevent further violations.

These remedies may include, but are not limited to:

      • Student referral to the Office of Health and Wellness
      • Employee referral to the Employee Assistance Program
      • Education to the community
      • Altering the housing situation of an the responding party (resident student or resident employee (or the reporting party, if desired))
      •  Altering work arrangements for employees
      • Providing campus escorts
      • Providing transportation accommodations
      • Implementing contact limitations between the parties
      • Offering adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc. 

 

The College may interim suspend a student, employee or organization pending the completion of the investigation and procedures, particularly when in the judgment of the Title IX Coordinator the safety or well-being of any member(s) of the campus community may be jeopardized by the presence on-campus of the responding party or the ongoing activity of a student organization whose behavior is in question. In all cases in which an interim suspension is imposed, the student, employee or student organization will be given the option to meet with the Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resource when appropriate, prior to such suspension being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the suspension should not be implemented. The Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resource when appropriate, has sole discretion to implement or stay an interim suspension and to determine its conditions and duration. Violation of an interim suspension under this policy will be grounds for expulsion or termination. 

 

During an interim suspension or administrative leave, a student or employee may be denied access to South Plains College housing and/or SPC campus/facilities/events. As determined by the Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources when appropriate, this restriction can include classes and/or all other SPC activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible. At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources when appropriate, alternative coursework options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an impact as possible on the responding party.

The institution will maintain as confidential any interim actions or protective measures, provided confidentiality does not impair the institution’s ability to provide the interim actions or protective measures.

5.  Investigation

Once the decision is made to commence a formal investigation, the Title IX Coordinator appoints ERP pool member(s) to conduct the investigation (number of ERP pool members is dependent upon the scope of the investigation), usually within two (2) days of receiving a complaint. Investigations are completed expeditiously, normally within ten (10) business days, though some investigations take weeks or even months, depending on the nature, extent and complexity of the allegations, availability of witnesses, police involvement, etc.

South Plains College may undertake a short delay its investigation (several days to weeks, to allow evidence collection) when criminal charges on the basis of the same behaviors that invoke this process are being investigated.  The College will promptly resume its investigation and resolution processes once notified by law enforcement that the initial evidence collection process is complete. SPC action will not typically be altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the same incident have been filed or that charges have been dismissed or reduced.

 

All investigations will be thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt and fair. Investigations entail interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses, obtaining available evidence and identifying sources of expert information, as necessary.

 

The investigation will typically take the following steps, if not already completed (not necessarily in order):

    • In coordination with campus partners (e.g.: the Title IX Coordinator), initiate or assist with any necessary remedial actions;
    • Determine the identity and contact information of the reporting party;
    • Identify all policies allegedly violated;
    • Assist the Title IX Coordinator with an immediate preliminary inquiry to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the responding party has violated policy.
    • If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the inquiry should be closed with no further action;
    • Meet with the reporting party to finalize their statement;
    • Prepare the notice of allegations [charges] on the basis of the preliminary inquiry;
    • Commence a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the responding party, who may be given notice prior to or at the time of the interview;
    • Prepare the notice of allegation on the basis of the preliminary inquiry;
    • Meet with the reporting party to finalize their statement, if necessary;
    • If possible, provide written notification to the parties prior to their interviews that they may have the assistance of a ERP pool member or other advocate of their choosing present for all meetings attended by the advisee;
    • Provide the parties with a written description of the alleged violation(s), a list of all policies allegedly violated, a description of the applicable procedures and a statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result;
    • Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the reporting party and the responding party with a list of witnesses whose information will be used to render a finding;
    • Allow each party the opportunity to suggest questions they wish the investigators to ask of the other party and witnesses.
    • Provide the parties with all relevant evidence to be used in rendering a determination and provide each with a full and fair opportunity to address that evidence prior to a finding being rendered;
    • Complete the investigation promptly, and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline;
    • Provide regular updates to the reporting party throughout the investigation, and to the responding party, as appropriate;
    • Once the report is complete, the report is shared with the parties for their review and comment. The investigators may incorporate feedback from the parties as appropriate.
    • Make a report of investigation to the Dean of Students (for cases involving students) or the Director of Human Resources (for employee only)  based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not);
    • The Dean of Students (for cases involving students) or the Director of Human Resources (for employee only) finalize and present the findings to the responding party, who may accept the findings, accept the findings in part and reject them in part, or may reject all findings;
    • The Dean of Students (for cases involving students) or the Director of Human Resources (for employee only) share the findings and update the reporting party on the status of the investigation and responding party’s decision on the finding, without undue delay. 

 

At any point during the investigation, if it is determined there is no reasonable cause to believe that South Plains College policy has been violated, the Title IX Coordinator has authority to terminate the investigation and end resolution proceedings.

 

Witnesses (as distinguished from the parties) are expected to cooperate with and participate in the College’s investigation and the Equity Resolution Process. Any witness who declines to participate in or cooperate with an investigation will not be permitted to offer evidence or testimony later in a hearing (if a hearing is held). Failure of a student witness to cooperate with and/or participate in the investigation or Equity Resolution Process constitutes a violation of policy and may be subject to discipline. Witnesses may provide written statements in lieu of interviews during the investigation and may be interviewed remotely by phone, online video conferencing (or similar technology), if they cannot be interviewed in person or if the investigators determine that timeliness or efficiency dictate a need for remote interviewing. Parties who elect not to participate in the investigation or to withhold information from the investigation will not have the opportunity to offer evidence during the hearing and/or appeal stages of the process if it could have been offered during the investigation. Failure to offer evidence prior to an appeal does not constitute grounds for appeal on the basis of new evidence.

No unauthorized audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during investigation meetings or other Equity Resolution Process proceedings. 

 

6.  Advocates

Each party is allowed to have an advocate of their choice present with them for all ERP meetings and proceedings, from intake through to final determination. The parties may select whomever they wish to serve as their advocate as long as the advocate is eligible and available, and usually not otherwise involved in the resolution process, such as serving as a witness. The advocate may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney or any other supporter a party chooses to advise them who is available and eligible. Witnesses cannot also serve as advocates. The parties may choose advocates from inside or outside the campus community. The Title IX Coordinator will also offer to assign a trained ERP pool member to work as an advocate for any party. The parties may choose their advocate from the ERP pool, choose a non-trained advocate from outside the pool, if preferred, or proceed without an advocate. 

The parties may be accompanied by their advocate in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present, including intake and interviews. Advocates should help their advisees prepare for each meeting, and are expected to advocate ethically, with integrity and in good faith.  South Plains College cannot guarantee equal advocacy rights, meaning that if one party selects an advocate who is an attorney, but the other party does not, or cannot afford an attorney, the College is not obligated to provide one.  However, the College maintains a listing of local attorneys who may offer their services pro bono for students. Employees may access attorneys through the Employee Assistance Program or local pro bono services.  This list may be found in the Department of Health and Wellness. 

All advocates are subject to the same campus rules, whether they are attorneys or not.  Advocates may not address campus officials in a meeting or interview unless invited to. The advocate may not make a presentation or represent the reporting party or the responding party during any meeting or proceeding and may not speak on behalf of the advisee to the investigators or hearing panelists. The parties are expected to ask and respond to questions on their own behalf, without representation by their advocate. Advocates may confer quietly with their advisees or in writing as necessary, as long as they do not disrupt the process.  For longer or more involved discussions, the parties and their advocates should ask for breaks or step out of meetings to allow for private conversation. Advocates will typically be given an opportunity to meet in advance of any interview or meeting with the administrative officials conducting that interview or meeting. This pre-meeting will allow advocates to clarify any questions they may have, and allows the College an opportunity to clarify the role the advocate is expected to take. 

Advocates are expected to refrain from interference with the investigation and resolution.  Any advocate who steps out of their role will be warned once and only once. If the advocate continues to disrupt or otherwise fails to respect the limits of the advocate role, the advocate will be asked to leave the meeting.  When an advocate is removed from a meeting, that meeting will typically continue without the advocate present. Subsequently, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the advocate may be reinstated, may be replaced by a different advocate, or whether the party will forfeit the right to an advocate for the remainder of the process. 

South Plains College expects that the parties will wish to share documentation related to the allegations with their advocates. The College provides a consent form that authorizes such sharing (SPC’s Authorization to Release Student Information Form is required by students; written statement is required to allow release by the employee) and is available from the College Registrar in the Office of Admissions and Records.  The parties must complete this form before the College is able to share records with an advocate, though parties may share the information directly with their advocate if they wish. Advocates are expected to maintain the privacy of the records shared with them. These records may not be shared with third parties, disclosed publicly, or used for purposes not explicitly authorized by South Plains College. The College may seek to restrict the role of any advocate who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by the College’s privacy expectations.   

The College expects an advocate to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend SPC meetings when scheduled. The College does not typically change scheduled meetings to accommodate an advocate’s inability to attend.  The College will make reasonable provisions to allow an advocate who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, video and/or virtual meeting technologies as may be convenient and available. 

A party may elect to change advocates during the process, and is not locked into using the same advocate throughout. 

The parties must advise the investigators of the identity of their advocate at least one (1) day before the date of their first meeting with investigators (or as soon as possible if a more expeditious meeting is necessary or desired). The parties must provide timely notice to investigators if they change advocates at any time.

7.  Conflict Resolution and Informal Resolution

Conflict resolution and informal resolution proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the resolution session are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accord with College policy. While the contents of the resolution sessions are private, the parties have discretion to share their own experiences if they so choose, and should discuss doing so with their advocates.  

a.  Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution is often used for less serious, yet inappropriate, behaviors and is encouraged as an alternative to the formal hearing process to resolve conflicts. The Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources when appropriate, will determine if conflict resolution is appropriate, based on the willingness of the parties, the nature of the conduct at issue and the susceptibility of the conduct to conflict resolution. In a conflict resolution meeting, a trained administrator will facilitate a dialogue with the parties to an effective resolution, if possible. Sanctions are not possible as the result of a conflict resolution process, though the parties may agree to appropriate remedies. The Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources when appropriate, will keep records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the accord can result in appropriate responsive actions.

Conflict Resolution will not be the primary resolution mechanism used to address reports of violent behavior of any kind or in other cases of serious violations of policy, though it may be made available after the formal process is completed should the parties and the Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources when appropriate, believe that it could be beneficial. Mediation will not be used in cases of sexual violence. It is not necessary to pursue conflict resolution first in order to pursue Informal or Formal Resolution, and either party participating in Conflict Resolution can stop that process at any time and request a shift to either Informal or Formal Resolution.

 b.  Informal Resolution: Resolution without a Hearing Body 

Informal Resolution or Resolution without a Hearing Body can be pursued for any behavior that falls within the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination, at any time during the process.  This option may be used when:

    • A responding party admits responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations at any point in the process;
    • When the investigation reaches a finding that the parties accept;
    • When both parties elect to resolve the allegation using the Informal Resolution process and the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources, when appropriate, assents;
    • When the Title IX Coordinator and the Director of Human Resources implements the results of an investigation for an at-will employee.

 

In Informal Resolution, the investigator has the authority to address all collateral misconduct, meaning that they hear all allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, but also may address any additional alleged policy violations that have occurred in concert with the discrimination, harassment or retaliation, even though those collateral allegations may not specifically fall within the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination. Accordingly, investigations should be conducted with as wide a scope as necessary.  

Any evidence that the investigator believes is relevant and credible may be considered, including history and pattern evidence. The investigator may exclude irrelevant or immaterial evidence and may choose to disregard evidence lacking in credibility or that is improperly prejudicial.

Unless the investigator determines it is appropriate, the investigation and the finding will not consider: (1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they show a pattern, (2) the sexual history of the reporting party (though there may be a limited exception made in regards to the sexual history between the parties), (3) or the character of the reporting party. While previous conduct violations by the responding party are not generally admissible as information about the present allegation, the investigators may consider information about previous good faith allegations and/or findings to consider as evidence of pattern and/or predatory conduct. 

The investigator(s) will not meet with character witnesses, but investigators will accept up to two (2) letters supporting the character of each of the parties.

The investigator(s) will base the determination(s) on the preponderance of the evidence, whether it is more likely than not that the responding party violated policy as alleged. 

Typically, within ten (10) days of the close of an investigation which determines that a responding party is in violation of policy, the Dean of Students (in cases involving student(s)) or the Director of Human Resources (in cases involving employee(s) will meet with the responding party to explain the finding(s) of the investigation. Once informed, the responding party may choose to admit responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations. If the responding party admits responsibility, in whole or in part, the Title IX Coordinator will render a determination that the individual is in violation of College policy for the admitted conduct.  At the same time, the responding party may also continue with an informal hearing with the Dean of Students or the Director of Human Resources, as appropriate, to discuss any remaining violations.  If the responding party does not accept responsibility or the reporting party(ies) do not accept the findings, a formal hearing body will be convened.

 

If the responding party admits to the violation(s):

    • Employee as responding party: a sanctioning body will convene comprised of the following:
        1. Supervisor for the responding party or designee
        2. Vice president of the responding party’s or designee
        3. Director of Human Resources or designee

 

The sanctioning body will determine an appropriate sanction or responsive action based on College policy. If the sanction/responsive action is accepted by both the reporting party and responding party, the Title IX Coordinator in conjunction with the Director of Human Resources will implement the finding and sanction, and act promptly and effectively to stop the harassment or discrimination, prevent its recurrence and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct.  No appeal is permitted.

          • Student as responding party: the Dean of Students will determine an appropriate sanction or responsive action. If the sanction/responsive action is accepted by both the reporting party and responding party, the Title IX Coordinator in conjunction with the Dean of Students will implement the finding and sanction, and act promptly and effectively to stop the harassment or discrimination, prevent its recurrence and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct.  No appeal is permitted.

If either party rejects the sanction/responsive action, a formal hearing will be held on the sanction/responsive action only, according to the Formal Resolution procedures below.

 

If alleged misconduct is resolved at this stage, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the parties of the final determination within three (3) days of the resolution, without significant time delay between notifications. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person; mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official College records; or emailed to the parties’ South Plains College-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. The notification of outcome will specify the finding on each alleged policy violation, any sanctions that may result which the College is permitted to share according to state or federal law, and the rationale supporting the essential findings to the extent the College is permitted to share under state or federal law. The notice will also include information on when the results are considered by the College to be final and any changes that occur prior to finalization. Because the alleged misconduct is resolved at this stage, the decision is final and appeals options are not available. 

At any point during the Informal Resolution process, including at its conclusion, either party may request that the matter be referred to the Formal Resolution Process for presentation before a hearing panel, except in cases where the responding party is an at-will employee.

In cases involving at-will employees, all findings and responsive actions will be determined by the [Director of Human Resources in collaboration with the Title IX Coordinator], based on the results of the investigation.   

c.  Formal Resolution: Resolution with a Hearing Panel

 

For all contested allegations that are not resolved through either Conflict Resolution or Informal Resolution, the Title IX Coordinator will initiate a formal hearing panel within ten (10) business days of the conclusion of the investigation, barring unusual circumstances.

8.  Formal Hearing Panel Procedures

a.  Hearing Panels

The Title IX Coordinator will refer the investigation findings to the Dean of Students or the Director for Human Resources, depending on the investigation parties involved.

Employee Hearing Panel: at least three of the following members must be included in the hearing panel, including the employee of the party’s choice.  The panel must be gender diverse in order to ensure equity to the reporting party and the respondent.

          • Vice President for area of responsibility (will act as the non-voting chair of the panel; if reporting directly to a vice president or president, an additional dean or area supervisor under the executive level position may be used)
          • Dean NOT over area of responsibility
          • Supervisor (director of chair) NOT over area of responsibility
          • Director of Human Resources
          • One employee of the involved parties choice (this person cannot be the same as the advocate)
          • Additional member from the investigator pool (member must not have been previously involved with the allegation)

 

Student Hearing Panel: at least three, preferably five, of the following must be included in the hearing panel.  The panel must be gender diverse in order to ensure equity to the reporting party and the respondent.

          • At least one from the following, depending on where the student attends: Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Students, Dean of Reese Center, Director of the Plainview Center, Executive Director of the Lubbock center (one will act as the non-voting chair of the committee)
          • Instructional Dean of the student’s major or designee
          • Department Chairperson of the student’s major or designee
          • Faculty member of the student’s choice (if student does not provide a choice, another person should be selected to the panel who has not been previously involved with the allegation; this person cannot be the same as the advocate)
          • President of the Student Government Association or other designated SGA officer
          • Additional member from the investigator pool (member must not have been previously involved with the allegation)

 

Those who served as investigators will be witnesses in the hearing of the allegation and therefore may not serve as hearing panel members. Those who are serving the parties as advocate, if any, are not eligible to serve as panelists. The panel will meet at a time and location determined by the Chair. 

 

b.  Notice of Hearing

At least five (5) business days prior to the hearing, or as far in advance as is reasonably possible if an accelerated hearing is scheduled with the consent of the parties, the Chair will send a letter to the parties with the following information. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. The letter will contain:

          1. A description of the alleged violation(s), a list of all policies allegedly violated, a description of the applicable procedures and a statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result.
          2. The time, date and location of the hearing and a reminder that attendance is mandatory, superseding all other campus activities. If any party does not appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearing will be held in their absence. For compelling reasons, the Chair may reschedule the hearing.
          3. Notification that the parties may have the assistance of a panel member or other advocate of their choosing at the hearing (See Section 6: “Advocates” above).

 

Hearings for possible violations that occur near or after the end of an academic term and are unable to be resolved prior to the end of term will typically be held immediately after the end of the term or during the summer, as needed, to meet the resolution timeline followed by South Plains College and remain within the sixty (60) day goal for resolution.

 

c.  Hearing Procedures

 Hearing panels will usually be convened within ten (10) business days of the completion of the investigation, and will be conducted in private. The panel has the authority to hear all collateral misconduct, meaning that it hears all allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, but also may hear any additional alleged policy violations that have occurred in concert with the discrimination, harassment or retaliation, even though those collateral allegations may not specifically fall within the panel’s jurisdiction. Accordingly, investigations should be conducted with as wide a scope as necessary. 

 

Participants will include the non-voting Chair, the members of the panel as outlined previously, the investigator(s) who conducted the investigation, the reporting party, responding party (or three (3) organizational representatives where an organization is charged), advocates to the parties and any called witnesses. 

Pre-Hearing

The Chair will exchange the names of witnesses who will be participating in the hearing, all pertinent documentary evidence and the investigation report between the parties at least two (2) days prior to the hearing. Any witness scheduled to participate in the hearing must have been interviewed first by investigators (or have proffered a written statement), unless all parties consent to the participation of that witness in the hearing. In addition, the parties will be given a list of the names of each of the hearing panel members at least two (2) business days in advance of the hearing. All objections to any panelist must be raised in writing to the Chair as soon as possible. Hearing panel members will only be unseated if the Chair concludes that their bias precludes an impartial hearing of the allegation. The panelists will be given a list of the names of each parties and witnesses at least two (2) business days in advance of the hearing. Any panelist or Chair who cannot make an objective determination must recuse themselves from the proceedings when notified of the identity of the parties and all witnesses in advance of the hearing. 

 The Chair, in consultation with the parties and investigators, may decide in advance of the hearing that certain witnesses do not need to be physically present if their testimony can be adequately summarized by the investigator(s) in the investigation report or during the hearing. All parties will have ample opportunity to present facts and arguments in full and question all present witnesses during the hearing, though formal cross-examination is not used between the parties. If alternative attendance or questioning mechanisms are desired, such as the reporting party not wanting to be in the same room as the responding party for the hearing (screens, Skype, questions directed through the Chair, etc.), the parties should request them from the Chair at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing. In the case of documented disabilities for which accommodations in the process are necessary, South Plains College will make reasonable accommodations for the parties when requested in advance.

 

Investigator Presents the Report

Once the procedures are explained and the participants are introduced, the investigator will present the report of the investigation first, and be subject to questioning by the parties and the panel. The investigator(s) will be present during the entire hearing process, but will only be present during deliberations at the request of the Chair. The findings of the investigation are not binding on the panel, though any undisputed conclusions of the investigation report will not be revisited, except as necessary to determine sanctions/responsive actions. Once the investigator(s) present their report and are questioned, the panel will permit the parties to provide relevant information in turn and permit questioning of and by the parties. The panel will then permit all present witnesses to provide relevant information and the panel and the parties will each be allowed to ask questions of the witnesses. Questions are usually directed to the parties and witnesses through the panel at the discretion of the Chair. 

Evidence Presented at the Hearing

Formal rules of evidence do not apply. Any evidence that the panel believes is relevant and credible may be considered, including history and pattern evidence. The Chair will address any evidentiary concerns prior to and/or during the hearing, may exclude irrelevant or immaterial evidence and may ask the panel to disregard evidence lacking in credibility or that is improperly prejudicial. The Chair will determine all questions of procedure and evidence. Anyone appearing at the hearing to provide information will respond to questions on his/her own behalf.

Unless the Chair determines it is appropriate, no one will present information or raise questions concerning: (1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they show a pattern, (2) the sexual history of the reporting party (though there may be a limited exception made in regards to the sexual history between the parties), or (3) the character of the reporting party. While previous conduct violations by the responding party are not generally admissible as information about the present allegation, the investigators will supply the panel with information about previous good faith allegations and/or findings to consider as evidence of pattern and/or predatory conduct.  

There will be no observers in the hearing. The Chair may allow witnesses who have relevant information to appear at a portion of the hearing in order to respond to specific questions from the panel or the parties involved, and then be excused. The panel does not hear from character witnesses, but will accept up to two (2) letters supporting the character of each of the parties. 

In hearings involving more than one responding party or in which two (2) or more reporting parties have accused the same individual of substantially similar conduct, the standard procedure will be to hear the allegations jointly; however, the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) may permit the hearing pertinent to each responding party to be conducted separately. In joint hearings, separate determinations of responsibility will be made for each responding party. 

Proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the hearing are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accord with South Plains College policy. While the contents of the hearing are private, the parties have discretion to share their own experiences if they so choose, and should discuss doing so with their advocates.  

Hearings (except for deliberations) are recorded for purposes of review in the event of an appeal. The parties may not record the proceedings and no other unauthorized recordings are permitted. Panel members, the parties, and appropriate administrative officers of the College will be allowed to listen to the recording in a location determined by the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases). No person will be given or be allowed to make a copy of the recording without permission of the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases).

 

Alternative Testimony Options

For sexual misconduct reports, and other reports of a sensitive nature, the reporting party will be offered alternative testimony options, such as placing a privacy screen in the hearing room, or testifying outside the physical presence of the responding party, such as by Skype or phone. While these options are intended to help make the reporting party more comfortable, they are not intended to work to the disadvantage of the responding party.

 

d.  Deliberation and Decisions 

The members of the hearing panel and the non-voting Chair will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the responding party is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question. The panel will base its determination(s) on a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., whether it is more likely than not that the responding party committed each alleged violation). If a responding party or organization is found responsible by a majority of the panel, the panel will recommend appropriate sanctions.

 

The Chair will prepare a written deliberation report and deliver it to the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases), detailing the recommended finding, the information cited by the panel in support of its recommendation and any information the hearing panel excluded from its consideration and why. The report should conclude with any recommended sanctions. This report should not exceed two (2) pages in length and must be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) within two (2) business days of the end of deliberations, unless the Title IX Coordinator grants an extension. 

 

The Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) will finalize the recommendations and will inform the parties of the final determination – both the finding(s) and applicable sanction(s) within three (3) business days of receipt of the deliberation report from the hearing panel , without significant time delay between notifications. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person; mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official South Plains College records; or emailed to the parties’ SPC-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered. The notification of outcome will specify the finding on each alleged policy violation, any sanctions that may result which the College is permitted to share according to state or federal law, and the rationale supporting the essential findings to the extent SPC is permitted to share under state or federal law. The notice will also include information on when the results are considered by the College to be final, any changes that occur prior to finalization and any appeals options that are available. 

 

e.  Sanctions

The hearing panel assigned to the resolution will recommend sanctions or responsive actions to the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases). Factors considered when determining a sanction/responsive action may include:

          • The nature, severity of, and circumstances surrounding the violation
          • An individual’s disciplinary history
          • Previous allegations or allegations involving similar conduct
          • Any other information deemed relevant by the hearing panel
          • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to bring an end to the discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation
          • The need for sanctions/responsive actions to prevent the future recurrence of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation
          • The need to remedy the effects of the discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation on the reporting party and the community

 

    i.  Student Sanctions

The following are the usual sanctions that may be imposed upon students or organizations singly or in combination:

          • Warning or ReprimandAll offenses that may be punishable by reprimand or warning shall be regarded as minor offenses. These actions are cumulative and are considered official college actions and are recorded in the Office of the Dean of Students.
          • Referral to Health & Wellness – Under certain situations, a student may be referred to Health and Wellness for counseling services. A set number of visits is established within a given amount of time.  Failure to complete prescribed sessions will result in a hold being placed on the student’s account for failure to comply.  The hold may be lifted once the requirements for all sanctions have been fulfilled.
          • Restriction – It may be determined that a student should be restricted from specified campus facilities, organizations or activities as a part of disciplinary action.
          • Community Service - A student may be assigned to do additional class work or other community service jobs on campus, as determined by the Dean of Students, the Dean of the Reese Center, the Executive Director of the Lubbock Center, or the Director of the Plainview Center.
          • Disciplinary Probation – Any offense leading to disciplinary probation is regarded as a major offense. Disciplinary probation is applied for a stated period with or without specified restrictive conditions. Restrictive conditions may include but are not limited to: removing the right of the student to receive any college award, scholarships, or financial aid; removing the right to occupy any position of leadership in any college or student organization or activity; removing the right to operate a motor vehicle on campus. The student is required to show appropriate changes in attitude and behavior during the probationary period.
          • Disciplinary Suspension – Any offense leading to disciplinary suspension is regarded as a major offense. Suspension is normally for a stated period, but never less than the remainder of the semester in which the offense is committed.

 

During suspension, the student shall not attend classes, participate in any college related activity, or be on campus for any reason except application for readmission. Readmission on probation may be granted at the end of the suspension period.

 

          • Expulsion – Expulsion is the permanent removal from South Plains College with no opportunity for readmission. Expulsion shall be used only in cases of extreme misconduct.
          • Removal from College Housing – In certain instances, the Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students may remove a student from college housing and allow him/her to continue attending classes.

 

    ii.  Employee Sanctions

Responsive actions for an employee who has engaged in harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation include

          • Warning – Verbal or Written
          • Performance Improvement/Management Process
          • Required Counseling
          • Required Training or Education
          • Probation
          • Loss of Oversight or Supervisory Responsibility
          • Demotion
          • Suspension with pay
          • Suspension without pay
          • Termination
          • Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions, the South Plains College may assign any other sanctions as deemed appropriate.

 

f.  Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges Pending

Students: South Plains College does not permit a student to withdraw if that student has an allegation pending for violation of the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination. Should a student decide to leave and/or not participate in the ERP, the process will nonetheless proceed in the student’s absence to a reasonable resolution and that student will not be permitted to return to SPC unless all sanctions have been satisfied. The student will not have access to an official academic transcript until the allegations have been resolved.

 

Employees: Should an employee resign with unresolved allegations pending, the records of the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) will reflect that status, and any South Plains College responses to future inquiries regarding employment references for that individual will indicate the former employee is ineligible for rehire.

 

g.  Appeals

All requests for appeal consideration must be submitted in writing to the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) within five (5) business days of the delivery of the written finding of the hearing panel. Any party may appeal the findings and/or sanctions only under the grounds described, below

A three-member appeals panel chosen from the ERP pool will be designated by the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) from those who have not been involved in the process previously.  Any party may appeal, but appeals are limited to the following grounds:

          1. A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.).
          2. To consider new evidence, unknown or unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.
          3. The sanctions imposed fall outside the range of sanctions South Plains College has designated for this offense and the cumulative record of the responding party.

The appeals panel will review the appeal request(s). The original finding and sanction/responsive actions will stand if the appeal is not timely or is not based on the grounds listed above, and such a decision is final. The party requesting appeal must show that the grounds for an appeal request have been met, and the other party or parties may show the grounds have not been met, or that additional grounds are met.  The original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. When any party requests an appeal, the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) will share the appeal request with the other party(ies), who may file a response within three (3) business days and/or bring their own appeal on separate grounds within the original timeframe.  If new grounds are raised, the original appealing party will be permitted to submit a written response to these new grounds within three (3) business days. Any response or appeal request will be shared with each party.

Where the appeals panel finds that at least one of the grounds is met by at least one party, additional principles governing the hearing of appeals will include the following:

        •  Decisions by the appeals panel are to be deferential to the original decision, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction/responsive action only if there is a compelling justification to do so.
        •  Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings (de novo) of the allegation. In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal. An appeal is not an opportunity for appeals panelists to substitute their judgment for that of the original hearing panel merely because they disagree with its finding and/or sanctions.
        •  Appeals granted based on new evidence should normally be remanded to the original hearing panel or investigators for reconsideration. Other appeals may be remanded at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) or, in limited circumstances, heard by the three-member appeals panel.
        •  Sanctions imposed as the result of the Formal or Informal Resolution processes are implemented immediately unless the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases), or designee stays their implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal.
    •  For students: Graduation, study abroad, internships/ externships, etc. do NOT in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances, and students may not be able to participate in those activities during their appeal.
    •  The Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases) will confer with the appeals panel, incorporate the results of any remanded grounds, and render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within three (3) business days from hearing of the appeal or remand.
    •  All parties should be informed of whether the grounds for an appeal are accepted and the results of the appeal decision or remand.
    •  Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final: further appeals are not permitted, even if a decision or sanction is changed on remand (except in the case of a new hearing). Where appeals result in no change to the finding or sanction, that decision is final. Where an appeal results in a new finding or sanction, that finding or sanction can be appealed one final time on the grounds listed above, and in accordance with these procedures.
    •  All parties will be informed in writing within three (3) business days of the outcome of the Appeals Panel, without significant time delay between notifications, and in accordance with the standards for notice of outcome as defined above.
    •  In rare cases where a procedural or substantive error cannot be cured by the original hearing panel (as in cases of bias), the appeals panel may recommend a new hearing with a new hearing panel. The results of a remand to a hearing panel cannot be appealed. The results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on any of the three applicable grounds for appeals. 
    •  In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the College or resumption of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the responding party to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irreparable in the short term.

 

h. Long-Term Remedies/Actions

Following the conclusion of the Equity Resolution Process and in addition to any sanctions implemented, the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources may utilize long-term remedies or actions stop the harassment or discrimination, remedy its effects and prevent their reoccurrence. These remedies/actions may include, but are not limited to:

    •  Student referral to counseling and health services
    •  Employee referral to the Employee Assistance Programs
    •  Education to the community
    •  Permanently altering the housing situation of an the responding party (resident student or resident employee (or the reporting party, if desired))
    •  Permanently altering work arrangements for employees
    •  Providing campus escorts
    •  Climate surveys
    •  Policy modification
    •  Providing transportation accommodations
    •  Implementing long-term contact limitations between the parties
    •  Offering adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc. 

At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources, long-term remedies may also be provided even when the responding party is found not responsible.

The institution will maintain as confidential any long-term remedies/actions or protective measures, provided confidentiality does not impair the institution’s ability to provide the actions or protective measures.

i.   Failure to Complete Sanctions/Comply with Interim and Long-term Remedies/Responsive Actions

All responding parties are expected to comply with conduct sanctions, responsive actions and corrective actions within the timeframe specified by the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases). Failure to abide by these conduct sanctions, responsive actions and corrective actions by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect or any other reason, may result in additional sanctions/responsive/ corrective actions and/or suspension, expulsion and/or termination from the College and may be noted on a student’s official transcript or on the employees file. A suspension will only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the Title IX Coordinator (student sanctions) or Director of Human Resources (employee sanctions).   

 

j.  Records

In implementing this policy, records of all allegations, investigations, resolutions, and hearings will be kept by the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Human Resources indefinitely in the Maxient Title IX Coordinator database (for student cases) and in the designated HR database (for employee-only cases). 

k.  Statement of the Rights of the Parties

 

Statement of the Reporting Party’s rights:

    • The right to investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible allegations of sexual misconduct or discrimination made in good faith to South Plains officials;
    •  The right to be informed in advance of any public release of information regarding the incident;
    •  The right not to have any personally identifiable information released to the public, without their consent;
    •  The right to be treated with respect by South Plains College officials.
    •  The right to have South Plains College policies and procedures followed without material deviation;
    •  The right not to be pressured to mediate or otherwise informally resolve any reported misconduct involving violence, including sexual violence; 
    •  The right not to be discouraged by South Plains College officials from reporting sexual misconduct or discrimination to both on-campus and off-campus authorities;
    •  The right to be informed by South Plains College officials of options to notify proper law enforcement authorities, including the SPC Police Department and local police, and the option to be assisted by campus authorities in notifying such authorities, if the reporting party so chooses. This also includes the right not to be pressured to report, as well;
    •  The right to have reports of sexual misconduct responded to promptly and with sensitivity by the SPC Police Department and other campus officials;
    •  The right to be notified of available counseling, mental health, victim advocacy, health, legal assistance, student financial aid, visa and immigration assistance, or other student services, both on campus and in the community;
    •  The right to a campus no contact order (or a trespass order against a non-affiliated third party) when someone has engaged in or threatens to engage in stalking, threatening, harassing or other improper behavior that presents a danger to the welfare of the reporting party or others;
    •  The right to notification of and options for, and available assistance in, changing academic and living situations after an alleged sexual misconduct incident, if so requested by the reporting party and if such changes are reasonably available (no formal report, or investigation, campus or criminal, need occur before this option is available).  Accommodations may include:
      •  Change of an on-campus student’s housing to a different on-campus location;
      •  Assistance from South Plains College support staff in completing the relocation;
      •  Transportation accommodations;
      •  Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund;
      •  Exam (paper, assignment) rescheduling;
      •  Taking an incomplete in a class;
      •  Transferring class sections;
      •  Temporary withdrawal;
      •  Alternative course completion options.

The right to have South Plains College maintain such accommodations for as long as is necessary, and for protective measures to remain confidential, provided confidentiality does not impair the institution’s ability to provide the accommodations or protective measures;

The right to be fully informed of campus policies and procedures as well as the nature and extent of all alleged violations contained within the report;

The right to ask the investigators to identify and question relevant witnesses, including expert witnesses;

The right to review all documentary evidence available regarding the report, subject to the privacy limitations imposed by state and federal law, at least 48 hours prior to the hearing;

The right to be informed of the names of all witnesses who will be called to give testimony, at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing, except in cases where a witness’s identity will not be revealed to the responding party for compelling safety reasons (this does not include the name of the reporting party, which will always be revealed);

The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history admitted as evidence;

The right to regular updates on the status of the investigation and/or resolution.

The right to have reports heard by hearing and appeals officers who have received annual sexual misconduct training;

The right to a panel that is not single-sex in its composition, if a panel is used;

The right to preservation of privacy, to the extent possible and permitted by law;

The right to meetings, interviews and/or hearings that are closed to the public;

The right to petition that any South Plains College representative in the process be recused on the basis of demonstrated bias and/or conflict of interest;

The right to bring a victim advocate of the reporting party’s choosing to all phases of the investigation and resolution proceeding;

The right to provide evidence by means other than being in the same room with the responding party;

The right to have South Plains College compel the participation of student, faculty and staff witnesses, and the opportunity (if desired) to ask questions, directly or indirectly, of all present witnesses including the responding party, and the right to challenge documentary evidence;

The right to be present for all testimony given and evidence presented during any resolution-related hearing;

The right to submit an impact statement in person or in writing to the hearing officers following determination of responsibility, but prior to sanctioning;

The right to be promptly informed of the outcome and sanction of the resolution process in writing, without undue delay between the notifications to the parties;

The right to be informed in writing of when a decision by South Plains College is considered final, any changes to the sanction to occur before the decision is finalized, to be informed of the right to appeal the finding and sanction of the resolution process, and the procedures for doing so in accordance with the standards for appeal established by South Plains.

 

Statement of the Responding Party’s rights:

The right to investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible reports of sexual misconduct and/or discrimination made in good faith to South Plains administrators;

The right to be informed in advance, when possible, of any public release of information regarding the report;

The right to be treated with respect by South Plains College officials;

The right to have South Plains College policies and procedures followed without material deviation;

The right to be informed of and have access to resources for medical, health, counseling, and advisory services;

The right to timely written notice of all alleged violations, including the nature of the violation(s), the applicable policies and procedures and possible sanctions; 

The right to a hearing on the report, including timely notice of the hearing date, and adequate time for preparation; (does not apply to at-will employees)

The right to review all documentary evidence available regarding the report, subject to the privacy limitations imposed by state and federal law, at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing;

The right to be informed of the names of all witnesses who will be called to give testimony, at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing, except in cases where a witness’s identity will not be revealed to the responding party for compelling safety reasons (this does not include the name of the reporting party, which will always be revealed);

The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history admitted as evidence in a campus resolution process;

The right to have reports heard by hearing and appeals officers who have received annual training;

The right to petition that any South Plains College representative be recused from the resolution process on the basis of demonstrated bias and/or conflict of interest;

The right to a panel that is not single-sex in its composition, if a panel is used;

The right to meetings, interviews and hearings that are closed to the public;

The right to have South Plains College compel the participation of student, faculty and staff witnesses, and the opportunity to ask questions, directly or indirectly, of all present witnesses, and the right to challenge documentary evidence;

The right to have an advocate of their choice to accompany and assist in the campus resolution process;

The right to a fundamentally fair resolution, as defined in these procedures;

The right to submit an impact statement in person or in writing to the hearing officers board following any determination of responsibility, but prior to sanctioning;

The right to a decision based solely on evidence presented during the resolution process.  Such evidence shall be credible, relevant, based in fact, and without prejudice;

The right to be promptly informed of the outcome and sanction of the resolution process in writing, without undue delay between the notifications to the parties;

The right to be informed in writing of when a decision of South Plains College is considered final, any changes to the sanction to occur before the decision is finalized, to be informed of the right to appeal the finding and sanction of the resolution process, and the procedures for doing so in accordance with the standards for appeal established by South Plains College.

 

9.  Disabilities Accommodation in the Equity Resolution Process

 

South Plains College is committed to providing qualified students, employees or others with disabilities with reasonable accommodations and support needed to ensure equal access to the Equity Resolution Process at the College. Students needing such accommodations or support should contact the Coordinator of Disability Services and employees should contact the Director of Human Resources, who will review the request and, in consultation with the person requesting the accommodation, and the Title IX Coordinator or Director of Human Resources (for employee-only cases), determine which accommodations are appropriate and necessary for full participation.

10. Revision

These policies and procedures will be reviewed and updated annually by the Title IX Coordinator in coordination with the Director Human Resources and the ERP with final review and edits enacted by the Board of Regents (Texas Education Code 51.9363 (b)(2) and (g).  South Plains College reserves the right to make changes to this document as necessary and once those changes are posted online, they are in effect. The Title IX Coordinator in coordination with the Director of Human Resources may make minor modifications to procedure that do not materially jeopardize the fairness owed to any party, such as to accommodate summer schedules, etc. The Title IX Coordinator in coordination with the Director of Human Resources may also vary procedures materially with notice (on the institutional web site, with appropriate date of effect identified) upon determining that changes to law or regulation require policy or procedural alterations not reflected in this policy and procedure. Procedures in effect at the time of the resolution will apply to resolution of incidents, regardless of when the incident occurred. Policy in effect at the time of the offense will apply even if the policy is changed subsequently but prior to resolution, unless the parties consent to be bound by the current policy. If government regulations change in a way that impacts this document, this document will be construed to comply with government regulations in their most recent form.

This document does not create legally enforceable protections beyond the protection of the background state and federal laws, which frame such codes generally.

 

Policy Revision: July 6, 2018

Executive Council Approval: July 30, 2018

Board of Regents Approval: September 13, 2018