Introduction

Stonehill College, an academic community within the Catholic tradition, committed to its Holy Cross roots, holds high expectations for how its members live and interact with one another.  Stonehill has enacted Policies relating to these expectations, and procedures to address all parties’ failure to comply with those Policies.  

In accordance with the College’s Procedures in Support of S1.14 Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct and Interpersonal Violence, these Investigation and Hearing Procedures are to inform and guide expected decorum and procedure throughout those processes.

DEFINITIONS

The following definitions are used in these Investigation and Hearing Procedures, as well as in the corresponding Policies as detailed below.

Advisor

An individual who is selected by a party who helps the party prepare for meetings and hearings, accompanies the party in any proceedings, and advises the party during the appeals process. The Advisor can, but is not required to, be an attorney, and may be any person who is not a party, witness, or otherwise involved in the investigation

Complainant

Title IX regulations define the Complainant as the individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment. The College further expands the definition to include any person who is alleged to be the victim of genderbased misconduct. At times, when referring to a law enforcement process or in other circumstances, the Complainant may also be referred to as a “victim” or “reporting party.” The College may use these words interchangeably, and no weight should be given to the word choice as an indication of the College’s opinion of, or position on, the allegations presented.

Hearing

Title IX requires schools to prevent sexual discrimination and its effects, which includes sexual harassment and assault. Title IX requires universities to investigate all accusations of sexual harassment and maintain a safe environment on campus. Universities use Title IX hearings to investigate and remediate accusations involving sexual assault or harassment.

The Stonehill College Title IX Hearing (the Hearing) is a proceeding conducted by a college official or third party hired by the College who is knowledgably in the Title IX law and regulations who administers the College’s adjudicative process for formal disputes involving the College’s compliance with Title IX. Hearings resemble judicial proceedings in many ways with there being pre-hearing matters, complaints, presentation of opposing arguments and evidence, and a final recommendation of responsibility. However, Hearings do not follow court rules of evidence and the hearing officer uses the preponderance of evidence standard in making their determinations.

Hearing Officer

Person designated by the General Counsel to oversee the Hearing. The Hearing Officer's duties include but are not limited to receiving and reviewing the Investigative Report, coordinating with the parties to schedule the Hearing, delaying the hearing for a legitimate purpose with notice to the parties in writing, judging whether a question posed by a party at the hearing is allowable, and submitting a recommendation of determination to the Decision Maker at the conclusion of the hearing. The Hearing Officer and the Decision Maker are not the same individual.

Relevant Evidence

Testimony, documents, or media files that relate directly to the issue disputed or discussed.

Respondent

The Title IX Regulations define Respondent as the individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment. The College has expanded the definition of Respondent to include any person who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment or was complicit in the act(s) of gender-based misconduct.

CONDUCT AND PROCEDURES FOR INVESTIGATIONS AND HEARINGS

Students who are interviewed as a part of an investigation or testify at a Hearing in accordance with Policy S1.14 are also subjected to the requirements of the College’s Community Standards.

College Policy S1.3 Community Standards and Student Conduct Process outlines behavior and conduct that will result in disciplinary proceedings for students.

“Prohibited Conduct"

The following conduct will constitute violations of the Community Standards and will be subject to action and sanctions outlined in the Student Conduct Process.

  1. ACTS OF DISHONESTY

1.1 Acts of dishonesty including, but not limited to, furnishing false information to any faculty member, College official, or department; forgery, alteration, or misuse of any College document record, or instrument of identification; or misrepresenting oneself as another. This may also include violations of the Academic Integrity Policy. Alleged academic dishonesty violations will be addressed according to the provisions of the Academic Integrity Policy.”

Formal Hearing Procedures

At any time during the pendency of a Formal Hearing, the parties may agree to an Informal Resolution.  The parties may continue to negotiate an Informal Resolution while the Formal Hearing process takes place and may at any time notify the Investigator or Hearing Officer, if one has been so assigned, that they have reached an Informal Resolution. 

As detailed in the College’s Procedures in Support of Policy S1.14, the Hearing Officer shall conduct the Hearing, remind all parties of the consequences of lying during these proceedings as relates to the College’s Community Standards and College Process, make all decisions on the admission or exclusion of evidence, and resolve questions of procedure.  The Hearing Officer may not ask questions of the witnesses.

At all times during the Hearing, the parties, witnesses, and advisors are expected to act in a respectful and professional manner.  The Investigator will conduct the direct examination of witnesses and Advisors will have an opportunity to ask cross-examining questions. At no time are the complainant or respondent allowed to address the witness or speak during the hearing unless they themselves are the witness.  Witnesses should wait until the entire question is asked before attempting to answer. All parties to the Hearing are to be behave in a respectful manner. If any party or witness fails repeatedly to follow these rules, the Hearing Officer may recess the Hearing to allow all parties to take a break but may also reschedule the Hearing for an alternative day.

To begin, the Hearing Officer will call the Hearing to order.  The Hearing Officer will record the hearing and give notice to the Complainant, Respondent, and their respective Advisors that such recording is taking place.  A request for a copy of the recording may be made by either party after the conclusion of the Hearing, and such copy shall be provided to the requesting party as soon as reasonably possible.

The following are not allowed during the Hearing:

  • Audio recording of the proceedings via cell phone, computer, or any other means
  • Video recording of the proceedings via cell phone, computer, or any other means
  • Telephone calls during the proceedings
  • Allowing a person, not a party to the proceedings, to watch or listen live to the hearing via FaceTime, phone call, Zoom, or any other means
  • Allowing a person, not identified to the other participants in the Hearing, to remain in the room with you, off camera, during a Hearing conducted via Zoom or other video conferencing software or platform
  • If the Hearing is conducted via Zoom or other video conferencing software or platform, the only people allowed in the room during the proceedings are parties, witnesses, and Advisors. Parents are not to watch the Hearing off camera via Zoom.
  • Any other such prohibitions as the Hearing Officer may make.

Any student who violates or fails to comply with the above list, or knowingly allows another person to record or listen to the Hearing, shall be subject to disciplinary action under the College’s Community Standards and Student Conduct Process.

The Investigator shall determine the order of any witnesses to be called.  The Investigator shall inform the Hearing Officer of the witness to be called and the Hearing Officer shall call said witness. The Hearing Officer shall notify each witness that the Hearing is being recorded and, if the witness is a current, enrolled student of the College, any and all consequences of lying during these proceedings as relates to the College’s Community Standards and Student Conduct Process.

The Investigator shall ask questions of the parties and witnesses called. The parties and their Advisors may not participate or speak during the Investigator’s direct questioning of parties or witnesses. The parties may take notes, or, at their own expense, have a transcriber present, but are not allowed to audio or video tape the interviews on their own.  As explained above, a recording will be provided by the College.

After the completion of the Investigator’s direct examination, the Advisor for the Complainant shall have the opportunity to ask additional questions.  Once complete, the Advisor for the Respondent shall have the opportunity to ask questions. The Investigator shall have the opportunity to cross-examine any witness or party. The Hearing Officer shall be the final arbitrator on the permissibility of any question asked. Parties may not conduct direct or cross examination themselves unless they do not have an Advisor; all such examinations must be conducted by their Advisor.  

During the Hearing, the Hearing Officer may, at the request of a party or the Investigator, allow additional witnesses not previously identified, including witnesses not initially interviewed by the Investigator, to offer information that becomes known after the commencement of the Hearing, becomes relevant as a result of information discovered at the Hearing, or rebuts or supports information provided at the Hearing.  The Hearing Officer shall use usual and standard determinations of relevance in deciding whether to allow additional witnesses.  If such witnesses are allowed, they shall be questioned in the same manner as detailed above.