Grievance Process

The Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion investigates allegations of civil rights violations at Sam Houston State University. This includes harassment and discrimination based on sex, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and other sexual misconduct. We also investigate allegations of retaliation for reporting or participating in the investigation of any of the above behaviors. The Title IX Coordinator offers consultations for students, faculty and staff who have questions or concerns. In addition, a person may contact the Title IX Coordinator anonymously to discuss their situation and receive information and may decide what to do later.

  • Notification of Alleged Incident

    Complainant files a report with the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion via phone, email or through the online reporting form.

    Reporting
  • Outreach to Complainant

    Once the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion has been notified by the Complainant, a Responsible Employee or any other party with information pertaining to the incident, the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion will reach out to the Complainant.

    The Complainant will be sent an email, which will include available information and resources and a request for them to contact the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion. The email specifies that a request for information or services does not carry an obligation to file a formal complaint.

    Once the Complainant responds or contacts the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion, they will be invited to schedule an intake interview with the Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Deputy Coordinator.

  • Intake (Initial) Interview

    During the intake meeting, the Coordinator will ask clarifying questions surrounding the Complainant’s concerns. Additionally, the Complainant will be informed of supportive measures and available resources such as counseling, medical, mental health, law enforcement and other services for Complainants and Respondents, both on campus and in the community.

    Please Note: The Complainant may request supportive measures without filing a formal complaint.

    Support Services
  • Determine Proceedings

    The Complainant will be advised of the difference between administrative and criminal proceedings and that they may request for their concerns be addressed administratively by the University and criminally by the University Police Department or law enforcement. The Complainant may choose to report to the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion, to law enforcement, to both or to neither. Complainants may simultaneously pursue actions through both avenues. The University will support Complainants in understanding, assessing and pursuing these options.

  • Resolutions

    Informal

    The Complainant will also be advised of informal resolution options such as mediation services or to allow the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator to assist them in resolving their issues informally. For instance, contacting the Respondent to discuss the Complainant’s concerns and possible alternatives and/or other methods to address concerns at the lowest level possible.

    Formal

    The Complainant may request a formal investigation. The Title IX Coordinator shall review all allegations to determine if the allegations will be classified as Title IX Sexual Harassment or Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct.

    If the decision is made by the Complainant or Title IX Coordinator to move forward with a formal investigation, an Investigator will be assigned at that time.The Investigator will conduct a prompt, thorough, fair and equitable investigation. A formal investigation will generally be completed within one hundred and twenty (120) calendar days of the complaint, absent extenuating circumstances.

    Title IX vs Non-Title IX

    Title IX Sexual Misconduct is unwelcome sex-based, verbal or physical conduct that occurs against a person participating or attempting to participate in an education program or activity:

    • Includes on campus
    • Includes education programs or activities off-campus
    • Includes houses owned or controlled by university-recognized student organizations.
    • Does not apply to off-campus, private settings that are not an education program or activity.

    Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct is all other sexual misconduct that does not meet the definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment.

  • Official Notice

    A Notice of Allegations will be sent to the Complainant and Respondent by the assigned Investigator. The Notice of Allegations will provide prompt notice of the investigation to include the allegations in writing, identity of the parties involved and notice that either party may have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be an attorney. A copy of the TSUS Sexual Misconduct Policy and a list of resources will also be attached.

  • Complainant or Respondent First Interview

    In most cases the Complainant’s interview will be conducted first, then the Respondent will be scheduled for an interview.

    The Investigator will go over a checklist that advises the Complainant/Respondent of policies and procedures, the Investigator’s role, privacy of data and confidentiality, consequences for providing false information, the investigative process, confidential and support resources and a reminder that retaliation is prohibited. It will be explained to the Complainant that s/he may have one advisor present at all meetings to provide them with support, guidance or advice; however, the advisor may not directly participate in the meetings. The advisor will be limited to the role of an observer. The advisor may be any person selected by the Complainant/Respondent, including an attorney. It is preferred that the advisor not be a witness that will be used during the investigation.

    During the Complainant’s interview, the Investigator will ask the Complainant to provide a detailed account of the incident, as well as any pertinent details prior to or following the incident. The Investigator will ask clarifying questions to ensure they have a clear understanding of what is being alleged.

    During the Respondent’s interview, the Investigator will ask the Respondent to provide a detailed account of the incident, as well as any pertinent details prior to or following the incident. The Investigator will ask clarifying questions to ensure they have a clear understanding of the Respondent’s response to what has been alleged.

    Evidence

    Each party will have an opportunity to submit evidence, which includes text messages, photos, emails, social media posts, incident reports and/or any other evidence to support their claims. The investigator will ask if there were any witnesses present during the incident, have direct knowledge or if the Complainant/Respondent disclosed to anyone what took place immediately after the incident occurred.

    The Investigator will then send Notice of Investigation letters to all witnesses requested by the Complainant and Respondent, requesting that they contact the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion to schedule an appointment.

  • Witness Interview

    During the witness’ interview, the Investigator will go over a checklist of the policies and procedures, the Investigator’s role, privacy of data and confidentiality, consequences for providing false information, the investigative process, confidential and support resources and a reminder that retaliation is prohibited.

    The Investigator will ask each witness to provide a detailed account of their knowledge of the incident. The Investigator will ask clarifying questions to ensure there is a clear understanding of the witnesses’ knowledge surrounding the incident. Witnesses will also be asked if they have any evidence to submit related to the investigation.

  • Follow Up Interviews

    Follow up interviews with the Complainant, Respondent and witnesses are often necessary to ensure that all facts and details provided have been discussed thoroughly with each party.

  • Conclusion

    Right to Inspect and Review Evidence

    Once the Investigator concludes all fact finding and evidence gathering, the Complainant and Respondent (and their perspective advisors) will have an equal opportunity to inspect and review all evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations in the formal complaint. Each party will have ten (10) calendar days to review and respond to the evidence. The written response will be considered by the Investigator prior to completion of the Investigative Report.

    Investigative Report

    The Investigator will complete a written Investigative Report that includes summaries of interviews conducted, photographs (if any) and descriptions of relevant evidence and a detailed report of the incidents related to the incident. The report is then forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator for initial review to ensure all elements of the investigation have been completed.

    Title IX vs Non-Title IX

    Title IX Investigations

    The Title IX Coordinator will forward the Investigative Report to the Decision Maker. The Decision Maker along with two other panel members will be present for the hearing. A live hearing will be conducted in which the Complainant and Respondent, and their perspective advisors will be present, in addition to the Investigator. Each party may give a statement, answer questions, present evidence and witnesses, and cross-examine the other party and witnesses through their advisor. Once the live hearing is concluded, the Decision Maker will issue a written determination simultaneously to both parties. The contents of the decision will include the findings a determination regarding responsibility and disciplinary sanctions imposed on the Respondent, if any.

    The sanctions will depend upon the nature and gravity of the misconduct and any prior discipline for sexual misconduct. Please refer to section 3.12 of the TSUS Sexual Misconduct Policy for a list of possible sanctions.

    Non-Title IX Investigations

    The Investigative Summary Report will be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will review the report and issue a written finding as to whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent did or did not violate the TSUS Policy. If it is more than likely that the Respondent violated the policy, the Title IX Coordinator will include a basis for the decision and recommended sanctions.

    The Title IX Coordinator will forward the Investigative Report and recommendations to the appropriate administrator with authority, who will issue written sanctions and send such sanctions and findings to the Complainant and Respondent simultaneously. (The Dean of Students will issue sanctions for students).

    The sanctions will depend upon the nature and gravity of the misconduct and any prior discipline for sexual misconduct. Please refer to section 3.12 of the TSUS Sexual Misconduct Policy for a list of possible sanctions.

  • Dispute of Findings and/or Sanctions

    Title IX Investigations

    If the Complainant or Respondent is dissatisfied with the determination of the Hearing Panel, they may elect to dispute the finding and/or sanction(s) by filing an appeal. (This process is detailed below in the Appeal of the Findings and/or Sanctions section).

    Non-Title IX Investigations

    If the Complainant or Respondent is dissatisfied with the determination of the Title IX Coordinator and appropriate administrator with authority, they may elect to dispute the finding and/or sanction(s) through a due process hearing.

    The due process hearing is comprised of three (3) faculty and/or staff members who will conduct a hearing to review the findings and sanctions imposed. The hearing panel may uphold, reject or modify the Finding(s) and Sanction(s), or remand the matter to the Title IX Coordinator for further investigation and/or any other action.

    If the Complainant or Respondent is dissatisfied with the determination of the Hearing Panel, they may elect to dispute the finding and/or sanction(s) by filing an appeal.

  • Appeal of Findings and/or Sanctions

    If the Complainant or Respondent is dissatisfied with the determination of their hearing, either party may request an appeal. The appeal shall be made in writing and submitted to the appropriate Appellate Authority.

    Grounds for Appeal are limited to the following:

    • Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
    • New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made and that could affect the outcome of the matter;
    • The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator or Decision Maker had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter; or
    • The sanction is substantially disproportionate to the written decision.

    The Appellate Authority may approve, reject, modify or remand the decision. A written decision will be sent to the Complainant, Respondent, Title IX Coordinator and the appropriate administrator with authority. The Appellate Authority’s decision is final. The matter will then be closed.