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The Student Disciplinary Process

View a diagram of the student disciplinary investigation process (PDF) related to sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking allegations. View UWS Chapter 17 and the most up-to-date resolution procedures (UWS 17.11 through 17.15), published July 1, 2016). Additionally, UW Madison has adopted under UWS 17.03 institutional procedures for sexual violence cases.

If a report is received alleging that a student has engaged in conduct that may violate UWS Chapter 17, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking, the information will be provided to the Title IX Coordinator within the Office of Compliance.

If the alleged misconduct includes sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, the Title IX Coordinator will assign an investigator that is specifically trained in conducting these types of investigations. Prior to the start of an investigation, the Dean of Students Office or University Housing Staff (if the student complainant lives in University Housing) will provide the student complainant with written notification of existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, and other services available both on campus and in the community. The student complainant does not have to agree to participate in the investigation to receive resources from the Dean of Students Office or University Housing. If the student complainant agrees to be interviewed, the student complainant may be accompanied by a person of their choosing and will meet with the assigned investigator. The investigator will also review written statements made by the student complainant, if any are available.

Once the student complainant interview is complete, the investigator will send a letter to the student respondent that includes the allegations and an invitation to meet. The responding student may be accompanied by a person of their choosing at the meeting.

The investigator will also interview relevant witnesses and/or review relevant witness statements, if any, and review any documentary evidence provided by the student complainant or the student respondent.

Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will prepare a report outlining the information gathered in the investigation. The report will be submitted to an Assistant Dean of Students assigned to the matter. The Assistant Dean will review the information in the report to determine if the evidentiary standard, preponderance of the evidence, has been met and whether any violation of UWS Chapter 17 occurred. If the Assistant Dean determines a violation occurred, a letter will be sent to both the student complainant and the student respondent outlining the Assistant Dean’s findings and, where applicable, the recommended sanction. At all steps of the process, regardless of whether there is a finding of responsibility against the student respondent, reasonable measures will be taken to ensure mitigation of any hostile environment.

The Right to Request a Review of the Record by Complainant

If the Assistant Dean determines that the evidentiary standard has not been met, the student complainant can request a review of that determination. The process for that review is as follows:

1. The Assistant Dean notifies both the student complainant and the student respondent of the determination that the evidentiary standard has not been met. The Assistant Dean will provide a written statement informing the student respondent of the possibility of a review and the potential change in outcome. The student complainant will be notified of the procedure to request a review.

2. The student complainant will have seven calendar days to request a review of the decision. The request should be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean of Students assigned to the matter. The request to review should include a written statement outlining the reasons for the review request. New information will not be considered, but the student complainant may comment on information already submitted.

3. Upon the receipt of a request for review, a review panel will be selected from among the sensitive case trained panelists. A panel will consist of two faculty/staff and one student. A representative from the Office of Legal Affairs will advise the review panel.

4. The review panel will review the materials submitted by the student complainant and the record of the investigation as compiled by the investigator. Testimony will not be part of the review.

5. The panel will, by a majority vote process, determine if a preponderance of evidence standard has been met. If the determination is that preponderance has not been established, the Associate Dean of Students will notify the student complainant and the student respondent that the investigation is closed. If it is determined that preponderance has been met, the process will revert to the Assistant Dean to establish a recommended sanction and continue the normal process.

6. Notification of the decision should be communicated with both the student complainant and the student respondent within three business days.

The Right to Request a Formal Hearing by the Respondent

If the Assistant Dean determines that misconduct occurred, the student respondent has the right to a formal hearing to contest the determination that the student engaged in misconduct, the disciplinary action recommended, or both. The hearing may be at the student respondent’s request or may be scheduled automatically, depending on the recommended sanction. In cases where the recommended discipline includes suspension or expulsion, UWS Chapter 17 provides for the hearing to be scheduled automatically unless the student respondent waives the right to the hearing in writing via a settlement agreement. For all other recommended sanctions, the student respondent may request a hearing by submitting a written notice to the Assistant Dean within 10 calendar days after the finding of misconduct.

In cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and/or stalking, the hearing will be conducted by a hearing committee. Separate academic and nonacademic misconduct hearing committees are appointed by the chancellor and include faculty, academic staff, and student members. Members are nominated for appointment by their respective governing bodies. The committee for a specific case is composed of at least three members with at least one student member. Committees that hear cases regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and/or stalking receive additional training focused on those issues. A hearing examiner is appointed by the chancellor from the faculty or academic staff. A hearing examiner or hearing committee conducts hearings in the same manner and under the same policies and procedures.

In any hearing (whether by student election or automatically scheduled) the student complainant and the student respondent maintain the right to be accompanied by a representative, including the right to be advised by counsel at the student’s own expense, the right to question witnesses, and the right to obtain a copy of the audio recording of the hearing. If the student complainant or student respondent want a written transcript of the proceedings, they may have one prepared at the student’s own expense. Advisors are permitted to speak at the hearing if the sanction recommended is suspension, expulsion, or if there is a concurrent criminal case.

Additional Non-Academic Misconduct Panel Information

Non-academic misconduct panels are comprised of faculty, academic staff, and students. The members are nominated by the appropriate shared governance bodies. The Faculty Senate nominates Faculty, the Academic Staff assembly nominates Academic Staff, and the Associated Students of Madison nominates students. Appointments are made by the Chancellor. Appointments to the panel vary in length of time and are typically 1-4 years. The panel members are trained on various topics, including but not limited to UWS Chapters 17 and 18, the hearing outline, weighing information, assessing credibility, confidentiality, and recusal. Members of the panel who are interested in serving on nonacademic misconduct panels addressing cases of sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, and stalking, are required to attend an additional sensitive case training on an annual basis led by a forensic nurse from the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program. The training is trauma informed and covers victim response, sensitive interviewing of victims of sexual violence, consent and the role alcohol and other drugs can play in obtaining and giving consent, and determining preponderance of the evidence.

What is Title IX?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs and activities. Title Ⅸ of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Title Ⅸ requirements cover sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual violence. In accordance with these requirements, UW-Madison is responsible for taking immediate and effective steps to respond to sexual misconduct and violence. Sexual violence may include physical sexual acts performed against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. A number of acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.

Protecting Victim Confidentiality

To the extent permissible by law, UW-Madison will endeavor to keep victim information private. However, once a report is made to the University, or the University has notice of an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed unless that information is reported directly to one of the confidential resources listed below.

For victims aged 18 and older who report to non-confidential sources, relevant information will be shared only with those who need to know, such as Title Ⅸ Coordinators and Deputy Coordinators, complaint investigators, and other individuals who are responsible for handling the school’s response to incidents of sexual violence. In the case of minors, UW-Madison employees must report child abuse to Child Protective Services or local law enforcement.

In an effort to protect victim safety and privacy, UW-Madison maintains information about sexual violence in a secure manner. If the University has notice of an incident, UW-Madison will balance the victim’s request to keep identifying information confidential with Title Ⅸ’s mandate to investigate hostile environments. UW-Madison will redact a victim’s identifying information when responding to requests for information pursuant to the Wisconsin Public Records law. UW-Madison complies with federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which governs the disclosure of student education records. The University also will not disclose identifiable information about research subjects if prohibited by an NIH-issued Certificate of Confidentiality, HIPAA regulations and state laws pertaining to the privacy of health information or promises of confidentiality made to research subjects pursuant the federally required consent form and authorization form. UW-Madison must respond to court ordered subpoenas that are not prohibited by other applicable law, and may not be able to redact information when responding to a subpoena.

Victims have the option to access confidential resources such as UHS Counseling and Consultation, UHS EVOCUHS Clinical Medicine, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, the Rape Crisis Center and the Employee Assistance Office. Other licensed healthcare providers, counselors and social workers employed by the University follow the confidentiality requirements of their profession when they provide care to a patient or a client.   Additionally, staff from McBurney Disability Resource Center, campus Disability Coordinators, Divisional Disability Representatives and interpreters do not disclose reports of prior victimization that they become aware of as part of the disability accommodation process or when providing translation services.

Responsible Action Guidelines

In cases where a student has been a victim of sexual assault and/or a violent crime while under the influence of alcohol, neither the Dean of Students Office, University Housing, nor UW-Madison Police will pursue disciplinary actions against the student victim (or against a witness) for his or her improper use of alcohol (e.g., underage drinking). A student victim who is under the influence of alcohol at the time of a sexual assault is entitled to university and community assistance and encouraged to seek help.

Protections from Retaliation

State and federal laws and University policy protect against retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking or dating or domestic violence. University policy prohibits retaliation against a person because he/she/they made a report, filed a complaint, participated in the investigation of a complaint, or assisted others who raised a complaint. Retaliation is a serious offense which can result in disciplinary action for students or employees. This protection from retaliation applies for any complaint made in good faith, even if it is eventually dismissed or found lacking in merit. A complaint will be presumed to have been made in good faith unless it is found to be a knowing falsehood or made with no factual basis whatsoever.

Students and employees who experience sexual assault, dating violence, and/or stalking have the option to report to law enforcement and/or campus disciplinary processes.

Victim Rights

Victim Rights of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Harrassment, and/or Stalking