As a Christian institution of higher education, Alaska Christian College is committed to providing a campus environment characterized by mutual respect among students, faculty, and staff. It is ACC’s policy that any form of sexual violence or other offense, harassment, discrimination, relationship violence, retaliation or misconduct will not be tolerated. This policy applies to all members of the campus community: students, faculty, staff, and visitors. It applies to incidents that occur on campus property as well as any off-campus functions sponsored or supervised by the institution. This policy also applies to off-campus conduct that has continuing impact on the ability of a member of the ACC community to fully engage in, and benefit from, campus life.
ACC’s policy is mandated not only by its adherence to Christian principles, but also by law, including Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. ACC’s policy is in accordance with new federal Title IX Guidelines including the “Final Rule” guideline established in 2020. ACC’s non-discrimination policy states the following: Alaska Christian College provides equal educational opportunities for all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, physical handicap, or veteran status.
Background on Title IX
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces, among other laws, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX). Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Because Alaska Christian College receives federal funds, the college is required to abide by Title IX and all applicable regulations implementing Title IX, including those published in May 2020. The Title IX regulations published in 2020 clarify the definition of “sexual harassment” prohibited under Title IX and require specific procedures to be followed when addressing such conduct. Title IX “sexual harassment” includes Sexual Harassment, Sexual Harassment (Quid Pro Quo), Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking.
Title IX Coordinators
The Title IX regulations require the college to authorize at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with the regulations. ACC has designated two Title IX coordinators. The college Title IX coordinator, Jeff Siemers, is responsible for the college’s overall compliance with Title IX and coordinates the college’s response to formal complaints by students against employee Respondents, as well as complaints by employees against other employees, and reports from Third Parties. The Title IX coordinator for students, Nathan Stump, coordinates the college’s response to formal complaints by students against student Respondents, and is also the college’s contact for Complainants in both student Respondent and employee Respondent cases. Upon receiving reports of Sexual Misconduct, ACC’s Title IX coordinator or the Title IX coordinator for students meets with the Complainant to ensure that supportive measures are in place and that appropriate procedures are followed to address the complaint in a manner that is fair to both the Complainant and the Respondent. The Title IX coordinators also ensure that proper training is provided to the officials involved in the process and coordinate educational programs for the entire college community.
Title IX Coordinator for Staff and Faculty
Jeff Siemers, Executive Vice President
907-260-7422 – 4024
35109 Royal Place
Soldotna, AK 99669
Title IX Coordinator for Students
Nathan Stump, Director of Student Services
907-260-7422 – 4303
35109 Royal Place
Soldotna, AK, 99669
Title IX Training and Prevention
Training for Title IX Coordinators/Staff
– The First Amendment and Title IX: An OCR Short Webinar
– OCR Short Webinar on How to Report Sexual Harassment under Title IX
– OCR Webinar on New Title IX Protections Against Sexual Assault
Training for Title IX Decision-Makers
– Conducting and Adjudicating Title IX Hearings: An OCR Training Webinar
– OCR Webinar on Due Process Protections under the New Title IX Regulations
Reporting Sexual Misconduct
ACC encourages all individuals to report incidents of Sexual Misconduct or suspected Sexual Misconduct, whether they are Complainants or Witnesses. Individuals subjected to Sexual Misconduct have several reporting options. At the ACC, individuals can confidentially report, or file a formal complaint of Sexual Misconduct, as explained below. Outside of ACC, individuals can report Sexual Misconduct to community resource centers that specialize in providing resources to victims of Sexual Misconduct, file a criminal charge with local law enforcement, or file civil litigation against the Respondent. Some individuals will choose to pursue criminal charges (i.e., through the police and criminal courts). Others will choose to pursue ACC disciplinary options, if the Respondent is an ACC student or employee. Some will choose a combination of the above options, and some will choose none.
Reports to a Title IX Coordinator
Anyone may report Sexual Misconduct or Retaliation related to Sexual Misconduct (whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to have been subjected to Sexual Misconduct) to ACC by contacting one of the following Title IX coordinators in person, by mail, by telephone, or by email, using the contact information listed for the Title IX coordinators, or by any other means that results in the Title IX coordinators receiving the person’s verbal or written report. Such a report may be made at any time, including during non-business hours, by using the telephone number or email address, or by mail to the office address, listed under Title IX Coordinators. Students making reports should contact the Title IX coordinator for students; employees or Third Parties making reports should contact ACC’s Title IX coordinator.
An individual reporting Sexual Misconduct may do so verbally or in a written report. If a written report is submitted, it should contain a brief written statement citing the type(s) of Sexual Misconduct that occurred and supporting facts (e.g., Respondent name, what happened, when and where the incident occurred, Witness(es), etc.).
All ACC employees, including faculty and staff, are required to report immediately any information they know about suspected prohibited conduct or potential violations of this Policy. These individuals are referred to as responsible employees. Student workers who have supervisory responsibility or responsibility for the welfare of other students are also considered responsible employees when they learn of potential violations of this Policy in the scope of their employment.
Responsible employees must report all known information, including the identities of the parties, the date, time and location, and any details about the reported incident to the appropriate Title IX coordinator. The appropriate Title IX coordinator will promptly contact the Complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures, consider the Complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures, inform the Complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a formal complaint, and explain to the Complainant the process for filing a formal complaint. Responsible employees may provide support and assistance to a Complainant, Witness, or Respondent; but they cannot promise confidentiality or withhold information about prohibited conduct. Failure by a responsible employee to report suspected prohibited conduct in a timely manner may subject them to appropriate discipline, including removal from a position or termination of employment.
A Complainant may choose not to make a complaint or report in their own case, even if the Complainant would otherwise have reporting obligations by virtue of being a faculty member, staff member, or student worker.
Reporting Options Outside ACC
Alaska Court System – Kenai
125 Trading Bay Drive Suite 100
Kenai AK 99611
Alaska State Troopers
46333 Kalifornsky Beach Rd, Soldotna, AK 99669
Soldotna Police Department
44510 Sterling Hwy, Soldotna, AK 99669
Complaint or Notice to a Title IX Coordinator
Upon receipt of a complaint or notice to a Title IX coordinator of an alleged violation of this Policy, the Title IX coordinator initiates a prompt initial assessment to determine the next steps ACC needs to take. The Title IX coordinator will initiate at least one of three responses:
- Offer supportive measures because the Complainant does not want to file a formal complaint; and/or
- An informal resolution process (upon submission of a formal complaint); and/or
- A formal grievance process including an investigation and a hearing (upon submission of a formal complaint).
ACC uses the formal grievance process to determine whether or not the Policy has been violated. If so, ACC will promptly implement effective remedies designed to help restore access to ACC’s educational programs and activities.
You can view or download ACC’s flowchart outlines the overall process here.
Initial Meeting with the Title IX Coordinator
When Sexual Misconduct is reported, the Title IX coordinator for students meets with student Complainants, and ACC Title IX coordinator meets with employee Complainants. The appropriate Title IX coordinator will promptly contact the Complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures, consider the Complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures, inform the Complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a formal complaint, and explain to the Complainant the process for filing a formal complaint. The Title IX coordinator will also explain the options for a formal grievance process (including an investigation and hearing) and an informal resolution process. At this initial meeting, the Title IX coordinator will also explain the Complainant’s and Respondent’s right to an Advisor. The Complainant may bring a support person to this initial meeting with the Title IX coordinator. The support person may also serve as the Complainant’s Advisor in future meetings with ACC officials.
Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the Complainant or the Respondent before or after the filing of a formal complaint or where no formal complaint has been filed. Such measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to ACC’s education programs or activities without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or ACC’s educational environment, or deter Sexual Misconduct. ACC will maintain as confidential any supportive measures provided to the Complainant or Respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of ACC to provide the supportive measures.
Formal Complaint of Sexual Misconduct
A “formal complaint” is a document filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX coordinator alleging Sexual Misconduct against a Respondent and requesting that ACC investigate the allegation. The formal complaint must be submitted to the Title IX coordinator in person, by mail, email, or through an online portal provided for this purpose by ACC, with a physical or digital signature or which otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing the formal complaint. At the time of filing a formal complaint, a Complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in a ACC education program or activity. The Title IX coordinator for students coordinates formal complaints by students (regardless of the status of the Respondent), and ACC Title IX coordinator coordinates formal complaints by employees who report Sexual Misconduct against another employee.
Requiring Complainants to file a formal complaint is meant to ensure that Complainants retain more autonomy and control over when the Complainant’s reported victimization leads to a formal grievance process (which includes the investigation and hearing procedures described below). In rare circumstances, the Title IX coordinator may determine that an investigation is necessary over the wishes of a Complainant out of concerns for the welfare and safety of the Complainant and the community (for example, to pursue a grievance process against a potential serial sexual perpetrator). If so, the Title IX coordinator will sign a formal complaint; however, the Title IX coordinator is not a Complainant or a party during the grievance process. When the Title IX coordinator determines that an investigation is necessary even where the Complainant does not want such an investigation, the grievance process can proceed without the Complainant’s participation; however, the Complainant will still be treated as a party in such a grievance process, which means continuing to provide supportive measures, an invitation to participate in the investigation and hearing process, and notification of the final outcome. The decision to initiate a grievance process in situations where the Complainant does not want an investigation, or where the Complainant intends not to participate, will be made thoughtfully and intentionally, taking into account the circumstances of the situation, including the reasons why the Complainant wants or does not want ACC to investigate.
When weighing a Complainant’s request that no investigation or discipline be pursued, the Title IX coordinator will consider a range of factors, including the following:
- the effect that non-participation by the Complainant may have on the availability of evidence and ACC’s ability to pursue the formal
- grievance process fairly and effectively;
- whether there have been other Sexual Misconduct complaints about the same Respondent;
- whether the Respondent has a history of arrests or records from a prior school indicating a history of violence;
- whether the Respondent threatened further Sexual Misconduct or other violence against the individual or others;
- whether the Sexual Misconduct was committed by multiple Respondents;
- whether the Sexual Misconduct was perpetrated with a weapon;
- whether the individual is a minor;
- whether the report reveals a pattern of perpetration (e.g., via illicit use of drugs or alcohol) at a given location or by a particular group.
The presence of one or more of these factors may lead ACC to initiate its formal grievance process. If none of these factors are present, the Title IX coordinator will typically honor the Complainant’s decision not to file a formal complaint.
If the Title IX coordinator determines that a formal investigation is necessary over the wishes of a Complainant, ACC will inform the Complainant prior to starting an investigation and will offer supportive measures and informal resolution options when appropriate. When ACC proceeds with the formal grievance process (including the investigation and hearing), the Complainant (or their Advisor) may have as much or as little involvement in the process as desired. The Complainant retains all rights of a Complainant under this Policy irrespective of their level of participation. Note that ACC’s ability to respond to the report may be limited if the Complainant does not want to proceed with an investigation and/or hearing process or requests that their identity remain confidential. The goal is to provide the Complainant with as much control over the process as possible, while balancing ACC’s obligation to protect the Complainant and the community. Complainants who elect to take no action can change that decision if they decide to pursue a formal complaint at a later date. After a formal complaint is filed, both parties will be given timely notice of meetings at which the parties (one or all) may be present.
Informal Resolution Process
Informal resolution is a voluntary process that a student Complainant and a student Respondent can mutually agree to participate in as an alternative to a formal grievance process. An informal resolution process will not be offered to resolve allegations of Sexual Misconduct against a student by a ACC employee. However, informal resolution may be appropriate to resolve allegations of Sexual Misconduct against an employee by another ACC employee.
The informal resolution process can take 30 business days to reach a resolution; typically they are resolved earlier. ACC will make a good faith effort to complete the informal resolution process as promptly as circumstances permit and will update the parties on the reason and timing of any delay.
Before initiating an informal resolution process, a Complainant first needs to submit a formal complaint. If a student Complainant or student Respondent wishes to initiate an informal resolution, they should contact the Title IX coordinator for students to make this request. In cases of an employee Complainant who has made allegations against an employee Respondent, either party may initiate an informal resolution by contacting ACC Title IX coordinator.
All parties must consent to the use of informal resolution. However, the Title IX coordinator, in their sole discretion, determines whether the informal resolution process will be used in a matter. The Title IX coordinator may appoint a facilitator with appropriate training in Title IX and informal resolution processes to work with both parties toward a resolution.
It is not necessary to pursue informal resolution first in order to pursue a formal grievance process, and any party participating in informal resolution can stop the process at any time prior to reaching resolution and begin or resume the formal grievance process.
Prior to implementing an informal resolution, the Title IX coordinator will provide the parties with written notice of the reported misconduct and any sanctions or measures that may result from participating in an informal resolution process, including information regarding any records that will be maintained or shared by ACC. ACC will obtain voluntary, written confirmation that all parties wish to resolve the matter through informal resolution before proceeding and will not pressure the parties to participate in an informal resolution.
The informal resolution agreement is not subject to appeal once all parties indicate their written agreement to all terms of the informal resolution. After the written agreement is signed by both parties, the formal grievance process is no longer available concerning the allegations raised in the formal complaint.
When the parties cannot agree on all terms of resolution, the formal grievance process will resume at the same point where it was paused. Information disclosed during the informal resolution process that is not already in the record (e.g., in the formal complaint or from any investigation or hearing conducted before the information resolution process starts) is confidential and cannot be used in the formal grievance process that resumes after the informal resolution process is terminated.
When an informal resolution is accomplished, the appropriate responsive actions and/or mutually agreed upon sanctions are promptly implemented in order to effectively stop the harassment or discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy the effects of the misconduct, both on the Complainant and the community. The Title IX coordinator maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive and/or disciplinary actions.
Formal Grievance Process
After a Complainant (or the Title IX coordinator in exceptional cases) files a formal complaint against a Respondent, the Title IX coordinator will initiate a formal grievance process that includes an investigation and a hearing. Before the investigation begins, both parties will receive a written statement of the allegations with sufficient time to prepare before meeting with the investigator. The purpose of the investigation is to collect the relevant evidence with the equitable participation of both parties. After the investigation is complete, a final investigation report is sent to both parties. The investigation report makes no conclusions about the allegations. Both parties have the opportunity to respond in writing to the evidence related to the allegations collected by the investigator(s), and then again to the final investigation report. The next step is to schedule a video conference hearing with both parties and their Advisors and any relevant Witnesses. The purpose of the hearing is give both parties and Witnesses the opportunity to provide testimony and respond to the evidence at the hearing with the decision maker(s). The hearing can include one decision maker (an administrative hearing) or a panel of three decision makers (a hearing panel). After the hearing the decision maker(s) will make a determination of responsibility regarding the Sexual Misconduct allegation(s) and send that determination in writing to both parties. Either party may appeal the decision to a designated ACC Appeal Officer who was not involved in the investigation or hearing process. The Appeal Officer’s decision is final. The Title IX coordinator will continue to work with both parties throughout this process, providing supportive measures and, if the Respondent is found responsible, remedies to the Complainant to help restore access to ACC’s educational programs and activities.
After a Complainant files a formal complaint, the appropriate Title IX coordinator will conduct an initial assessment. When a ACC student makes a formal complaint against another student or a ACC employee, the Title IX coordinator for students conducts the initial assessment. When an ACC employee makes a formal complaint, ACC Title IX coordinator conducts the initial assessment.
The initial assessment may include determining whether the Sexual Misconduct alleged falls within the scope of Title IX. Under the Title IX regulations, ACC must dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing, it is determined that:
- The conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute Title IX “sexual harassment” as described under Title IX and Jurisdiction of the Policy, even if proved; and/or
- The alleged conduct did not occur in ACC’s educational programs or activities (includes locations, events, or circumstances over which ACC exercises substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the “sexual harassment” occurs, and also includes buildings or property controlled by officially recognized student organizations); and/or
- The alleged conduct did not occur against a person in the United States; and/or
- At the time of filing a formal complaint, a Complainant is not participating in or attempting to participate in the education programs or activities of ACC.
ACC may dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing:
- A Complainant notifies the Title IX coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein (a Complainant who decides to withdraw a complaint may later request to reinstate it or refile it); or
- The Respondent is no longer enrolled in or employed by ACC; or
- Specific circumstances prevent ACC from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.
Because Sex Discrimination and Sexual Exploitation are not considered Title IX “sexual harassment,” ACC is not obligated to follow the procedures required by the Title IX regulations in Sex Discrimination and Sexual Exploitation cases. Formal complaints of Sex Discrimination or Sexual Exploitation by a student against another student may be resolved using the procedures in this Policy.
Upon any dismissal of the formal complaint, the Title IX coordinator will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and the rationale for doing so simultaneously to the parties. In some cases, the dismissal may only be a procedural requirement under the Title IX regulations, because the regulations also allow ACC to still address the allegations using the formal grievance process or the informal resolution process. Therefore, the Title IX coordinator will indicate in the written notice if ACC will continue with the informal resolution process or the formal grievance process (including the investigation and hearing) or under this Policy even though it has been dismissed as a Title IX matter. If ACC proceeds using the formal grievance process, the parties will be notified of any procedural modification in the written notice of the allegations and/or the written notice of the hearing before the procedure begins (e.g., to time frames and cross examination requirements).
The formal complaint dismissal decision is appealable to the Office of the Executive Vice President. on any of the following bases: 1) Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter; 2) New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the dismissal was made which could affect the outcome of the matter; or 3) The Title IX coordinator 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. ACC will notify the other party in writing when an appeal is filed. Appeals procedures will be implemented equally for both parties, which includes the opportunity to submit a written statement in support of, or challenging, the dismissal decision. ACC will issue a written decision describing the result of the appeal and the rationale for the result, which will be provided simultaneously to both parties. The Executive Vice President will make a good faith effort to complete the appeal process as promptly as circumstances permit and will update the parties on the timing of any delay and the reasons for the delay.
Written Notice of the Allegations
Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the Title IX coordinator will provide the Complainant and Respondent (or the parties who are known at the time) a written notice that includes:
- Notice of ACC’s formal grievance process and informal resolution process.
- Notice of the allegations of Sexual Misconduct (see Definitions), including sufficient details known at the time and with sufficient time (normally five calendar days) to prepare for the initial interview. Sufficient details include the identities of the parties involved in the incident, if known, the conduct allegedly constituting Sexual Misconduct, and the date and location of the alleged incident, if known.
- A statement that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process.
- A statement that the parties may have an Advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, and may inspect and review evidence as described in the Formal Investigation section below.
- A reference to the provision in this Policy that prohibits knowingly making false statements or knowingly submitting false information during the grievance process.
- A statement about ACC’s policy on Retaliation.
- Information on how parties may request disability accommodations during the formal grievance (including investigation and hearing) and informal resolution processes.
If, in the course of an investigation, ACC decides to investigate allegations regarding the Respondent that are not included in the original written notice, ACC will provide notice of the additional allegations to the parties whose identities are known.
The written notice will be delivered by one or more of the following methods: emailed to the parties’ ACC email or designated accounts, in person, or mailed to the local or permanent address(es) of the parties as indicated in official ACC records.
Authority and Responsibility
Investigations are conducted by an ACC staff member who is designated and trained for investigation. ACC may choose to utilize the services of an outside investigator to conduct the investigation, which will follow the procedures below and be overseen by the appropriate Title IX coordinator.
Investigations are completed expeditiously, normally within 90 business days, though some investigations may take longer, depending on the nature, extent, and complexity of the allegations, availability and number of Witnesses, law enforcement involvement, etc. If there is a delay, ACC will communicate in writing the anticipated duration of the delay and reason to the parties. Investigations are typically not delayed, altered, or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the underlying incident(s) have been filed or that criminal charges have been dismissed or reduced. ACC will make a good faith effort to complete investigations as promptly as circumstances permit and will communicate regularly with the parties to update them on the progress and timing of the investigation, including the reason for any delay.
Participation of Witnesses in the Investigation
Normally interviews for parties and all Witnesses are conducted in person; however, circumstances (e.g.,summer break) may require individuals to be interviewed remotely. In exceptional circumstances Witnesses may also provide written statements in lieu of interviews, if deemed appropriate by the investigator(s). If a Witness submits a written statement, but is not present for cross examination at a subsequent hearing, their written statement may not be able to be used as evidence, unless both parties agree that such statement can be used.
Recording of Interviews
No unauthorized audio or video recording or transcription of any kind is permitted during investigation meetings. The investigator(s) will audio and/or video record interviews, and all involved parties will be made aware of audio and/or video recording. Recordings or transcriptions of investigation meetings will not be shared with any involved party (Complainant, Respondent, Advisor, or Witnesses); however, a summary of any relevant evidence obtained in an investigation interview that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint will be shared in writing with the Complainant and Respondent and their Advisors as described below in the investigation process.
When investigating a formal complaint, ACC will:
- Ensure that the burden of proof and the burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination regarding responsibility rests on ACC and not on the parties. ACC cannot access, consider, disclose, or otherwise use a party’s records that are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in the professional’s or paraprofessional’s capacity, or assisting in that capacity, and which are made and maintained in connection with the provision of treatment to the party, unless ACC obtains that party’s voluntary, written consent to do so for the grievance process under this Policy.
- Provide an equal opportunity for the parties to present Witnesses and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. Inculpatory evidence tends to incriminate or place responsibility on someone, and exculpatory evidence tends to show a person’s innocence.
- Not restrict the ability of either party to discuss the allegations under investigation or to gather and present relevant evidence.
- Provide the parties with the same opportunities to have others present during any investigation meeting, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by the Advisor of their choice. However, the Advisor cannot speak for the parties. The role of the Advisor is to accompany the parties and advise them privately.
- Provide, to a party, written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of all investigative interviews with sufficient time (normally two calendar days) for the party to prepare to participate.
- Provide both parties an equal opportunity to inspect and review any evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in a formal complaint, including the evidence upon which ACC does not intend to rely on in reaching a determination regarding responsibility and inculpatory or exculpatory evidence whether obtained from a party or other source, so that each party can meaningfully respond to the evidence prior to conclusion of the investigation. ACC will send to each party and the party’s Advisor, if any, the evidence subject to inspection and review in an electronic format. In order to protect confidential information, the investigator will redact or remove information that is not directly related to the allegations (or that is otherwise barred from use under Title IX, such as information protected by a legally recognized privilege, or a party’s treatment records if the party has not given written consent) before sending the evidence to the parties for inspection and review.
The evidence will be emailed to the parties’ ACC email account and the Advisors’ (if any) email account provided to ACC by the parties. The parties will have ten calendar days to submit a written response, which the investigator will consider prior to completion of the final investigative report. The parties may elect to waive the full ten calendar days. Both parties may provide additional evidence in their response. Each party’s written response, if submitted, will be shared with the other party. The investigator(s) will incorporate relevant elements of the parties’ written responses into the final investigation report, include any additional relevant evidence, make any necessary revisions, and finalize the report.
ACC will make all evidence subject to the parties’ inspection and review, including any written responses, available at any hearing following the investigation to give each party equal opportunity to refer to such evidence during the hearing, including for purposes of cross-examination.
- Create a final investigation report that includes a description of the procedural steps taken during the investigation and that fairly summarizes relevant evidence. The report will be sent to each party and the party’s Advisor, if any, in an electronic format for their review. The parties will have ten calendar days to submit a written response prior to the hearing. The parties may elect to waive the full ten calendar days. The evidence will be emailed to the parties’ ACC email account and the Advisors’ (if any) email account provided to ACC by the parties. Both parties may provide additional evidence in their response. Each party’s written response, if submitted, will be shared with the other party. Parties will have the opportunity to respond to any new evidence at the hearing.
Evidentiary Considerations in the Investigation
The investigation does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they are considered relevant because, for example, they evidence a pattern; or 2) evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the evidence concerns specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Sexual Misconduct Claims that are not Title IX “Sexual Harassment”
For allegations of Sexual Misconduct that fall outside the jurisdiction of Title IX, Student Services will conduct necessary disciplinary hearing and procedures should the allegations be for students. If the allegations are for staff, Human Resources and the Executive Vice President will collaborate to follow the current investigation and disciplinary policies outlined in ACC’s current employee procedures.
After the final investigation report is shared with the parties, the Title IX coordinator will refer the matter for a live hearing. The hearing can be with one decision maker (an administrative hearing) or with three decision makers (a hearing panel). The hearing panel will include two ACC faculty and/or staff members in addition to a designated chair, with a mix of both male and female members, and will not include students. In some cases, ACC may choose to utilize the services of an outside Hearing Officer to conduct the hearing, which will follow the procedures below and will be overseen by the appropriate Title IX coordinator.
All live hearings not in person will be conducted via video conferencing that will allow all parties, Witnesses, and other participants simultaneously to see and hear each other.
Other than as outlined below, hearings need not adhere to formal rules of procedure or evidence followed by courts of law.
The hearing cannot be less than ten calendar days from the conclusion of the investigation, which is the date that the final investigation report is transmitted to the parties. However, all parties (the Complainant and the Respondent) and the decision maker may agree to an expedited timeline. Hearings may be conducted prior to, simultaneously with, or following criminal or civil proceedings. After the hearing is concluded, a written letter of determination is normally sent to both parties within three business days. The time frame from the notice of the hearing to the written letter of determination is normally 15 business days. When employee Respondents are involved and sanctions are recommended by the decision maker(s), additional time may be necessary for a sanction review by the appropriate supervisor or faculty body. The sanctions are included in the written letter of determination, which concludes the hearing process. The Hearing Officer will make a good faith effort to complete the hearing process as promptly as circumstances permit and will update the parties on the reason and timing of any delay of the hearing or the written letter of determination.
Notice of Hearing
No less than ten calendar days prior to the hearing, the Hearing Officer will simultaneously send notice of the hearing to the parties’ ACC email account. The notice will contain:
- A description of the alleged violation(s) and a list of all policies allegedly violated.
- The time and date of the hearing and a reminder that attendance is mandatory, superseding all other ACC activities.
- A description of the video conferencing technology that will be used to facilitate the hearing with the parties in separate locations and enables the decision maker(s) and parties to see and hear a party or Witness answering questions.
- A list of all those who will attend the hearing, along with an invitation to object to any decision maker on the basis of demonstrated bias. This must be raised with the Hearing Officer (regarding hearing panel members) or the Title IX coordinator (regarding the Hearing Officer) in writing at least seven calendar days prior to the hearing.
- A copy of all the materials provided to the decision maker(s) about the matter, unless they have been provided already. This includes, for example, the final investigation report, the parties’ written responses to the report (if submitted), and any relevant materials the Hearing Officer has approved to be reviewed at the hearing.
- An invitation to each party to identify any relevant Witnesses in the final investigation report whose testimony is sufficient in the report and does not need to present live testimony or submit to cross-examination questions by the party’s Advisor at the hearing. If there is agreement by both parties, and the credibility or live testimony of the Witness is not critical to the adjudication of the allegations, the Hearing Officer may determine that it is not necessary to require the Witness to attend the hearing, and the decision maker(s) will rely upon the Witness’ testimony in the final investigation report in making its determination of responsibility.
- An invitation to each party to submit the cross-examination questions they intend their Advisor to ask the other party or Witnesses at the hearing, so that the Hearing Officer can rule on their relevance ahead of time to avoid any delays in the hearing or to provide recommendations for more appropriate phrasing. Parties will also be given the opportunity to submit cross-examination questions during the live hearing.
- An invitation to each party to submit to the Hearing Officer an impact statement pre-hearing that the decision maker will review during any sanction determination.
- An invitation to contact the Office of Student Accessibility (students) or Human Resources (employees) to arrange any disability accommodations or interpretation services that may be needed at the hearing, at least seven calendar days prior to the hearing.
The Hearing Officer will schedule critical Witnesses to appear at a portion of the live hearing in order to present testimony and to respond to questions from the decision maker(s) and the parties, after which they will be excused. Any Witness scheduled to participate in the hearing must have been first interviewed by the investigator(s). The Hearing Officer may make an exception to this rule if they believe the circumstances warrant such exception.
Evidentiary Considerations in the Hearing
Any evidence that is first offered after the final investigation report or during the hearing will be reviewed by the Hearing Officer to determine whether circumstances warrant allowing the evidence to be considered at the hearing. If the Hearing Officer does not allow the admission of the new evidence, the Hearing Officer may delay the hearing and instruct that the investigation needs to be re-opened to consider that evidence.
Any evidence the decision maker(s) determines relevant and credible may be considered. The decision maker(s) does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they are considered relevant because, for example, they evidence a pattern; or 2) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concerns specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Previous disciplinary action of any kind involving the Respondent may be considered in determining an appropriate sanction upon a determination of responsibility. This information is only considered at the sanction stage of the process during deliberation by the decision maker(s) following the live hearing with the parties.
Other Hearing Procedures
- The Hearing Officer will answer all questions of procedure raised before or during a hearing.
- When using a hearing panel, the Hearing Officer will give the panelists a list of the names of all parties, Witnesses, and Advisors in advance of the hearing. Any panelist who cannot make an objective determination must excuse themselves from the hearing proceedings.
- In hearings involving more than one Respondent or in which two or more Complainants have accused the same individual of substantially similar conduct, the default procedure will be to hear the allegations jointly. However, the Title IX coordinator may permit the investigation and/or hearings pertinent to each Respondent to be conducted separately if there is a compelling reason to do so. In joint hearings, separate determinations of responsibility will be made for each Respondent with respect to each alleged Policy violation.
- The decision maker(s) may not draw any inference solely from a party’s or Witness’s absence from the hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.
- ACC will make all evidence subject to the parties’ inspection and review, including any written responses, available at the hearing to give each party equal opportunity to refer to such evidence during the hearing, including for purposes of cross-examination.
- Parties may confer with their Advisor during the hearing, but if a party repeatedly confers with the Advisor every time a question is asked, the Hearing Officer may inform the party that such conduct will be considered when weighing the party’s credibility. Also, the Hearing Officer reserves the right to limit the timing and length of breaks requested by parties to confer with Advisors, and any conferring must be in private so that it does not disturb the hearing and is not overheard by other participants.
- If, during the course of the hearing, additional policy violations are discovered, the Respondent will be notified of the new alleged violation(s) and will be granted additional time, if needed, for an investigation to be conducted and/or to prepare a defense of the new alleged violation(s). The Respondent may waive an investigation related to the new alleged violation(s) and/or the additional time to prepare a defense, and the hearing can proceed with the new alleged violation(s) taken under consideration by the decision maker(s). A record will be made of the additional alleged violation(s) and whether or not the Respondent waived or requested an investigation to be conducted and/or additional preparation time.
The Title IX regulations require ACC to permit cross-examination by each party’s Advisor in order to give the decision maker(s) the opportunity to observe parties and Witnesses answer questions. The Title IX regulations grant the right of cross-examination equally to Complainants and Respondents, so that either party may direct the decision maker’s attention to the implausibility, inconsistency, unreliability, ulterior motives, and lack of credibility in the other party’s or the Witnesses statements.
At the live hearing, the Title IX regulations require that the decision maker(s) must permit each party’s Advisor to ask the other party and any Witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. Such cross-examination at the live hearing must be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by the party’s Advisor of choice and never by a party personally. Only relevant cross-examination and other questions may be asked of a party or Witness. Before a Complainant, Respondent, or Witness answers a question, the Hearing Officer must first determine whether the question is relevant and explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant. The parties or Advisors may immediately challenge any decision regarding relevance by the Hearing Officer, who may pause the hearing and consult with others before making a final ruling on the challenge. Duplicative questions are irrelevant and will not be permitted by either party.
If a party does not have an Advisor for a hearing, ACC will appoint an Advisor for the limited purpose of conducting any cross-examination. A party may reject this appointment and choose their own Advisor, but a party may not proceed with the hearing without an Advisor. If the party’s Advisor will not conduct cross-examination, ACC will appoint an Advisor who will do so, regardless of the participation or non-participation of the advised party in the hearing itself. If an ACC appointed Advisor is used by a party to conduct cross-examination, the role of that Advisor is to relay any questions the party wishes to ask the other party or Witnesses. The ACC appointed Advisor will not develop questions independently on behalf of the party.
Cross-examination by Advisors must follow the hearing procedures and ACC’s rules of decorum, which prohibit questioning in an abusive, badgering, intimidating, or disrespectful manner. If a party’s Advisor of choice refuses to comply with these rules of decorum for the hearing, the Hearing Officer may require the party to use a different Advisor. If an ACC-provided Advisor refuses to comply with these rules of decorum, the Hearing Officer may provide that party with a different Advisor to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party.
If a party or Witness chooses not to submit to cross-examination at the hearing, either because they do not attend the hearing, or they attend but refuse to participate in questioning, then the decision maker(s) may not rely on any prior statement made by that party or Witness at the hearing (including those contained in the investigation report) in the ultimate determination of responsibility. The decision maker(s) must disregard that statement. Evidence provided that is something other than a statement by the party or Witness may be considered (e.g., video evidence of the misconduct). However, if the statements of the party who is refusing to submit to cross-examination or refuses to attend the hearing are the subject of the allegation itself (e.g., the case is about verbal harassment or a quid pro quo offer), then those statements are not precluded from admission.
- The Hearing Officer confirms that all the participants, including the Complainant, Respondent, Advisors, decision maker(s), and hearing facilitator, are present at the video conference, and invites the participants to introduce themselves. The introductions will also allow the hearing facilitator to confirm that all participants can see and hear each other.
- The Hearing Officer provides an overview of the hearing agenda and a list of the Witnesses (if any) in the order they are scheduled to participate in the hearing.
- The Hearing Officer offers both parties the opportunity to make a brief opening statement (maximum of ten minutes) to the decision maker(s), beginning with the Complainant. Advisors are not allowed to make opening statements.
- The Hearing Officer asks the parties and Witnesses to provide any relevant information beginning with the Complainant and then in the order determined by the Hearing Officer. The decision maker(s) ask questions directly to the parties and Witnesses about their testimony or relevant evidence in the materials provided to the participants in advance of the hearing. The parties and Witnesses will submit to questioning by the decision maker(s) and then by the parties through their Advisors (“cross-examination”) after the Hearing Officer reviews each question for relevance before it is asked by the Advisor. Witnesses are excused from the hearing following the cross-examination.
- The Hearing Officer offers both parties the opportunity to make a brief closing statement (maximum of five minutes) to the decision maker(s). Advisors are not allowed to make closing statements.
Determination of Responsibility
The decision maker(s) will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible for the Policy violation(s). If a hearing panel is used, a simple majority vote is required to determine the finding. The preponderance of the evidence standard of proof is used (whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Sexual Misconduct Policy).
When there is a finding of responsibility on one or more of the allegations, the decision maker(s) may then consider the previously submitted party impact statements in recommending appropriate sanction(s). The Hearing Officer will ensure that each of the parties has an opportunity to review any impact statement submitted by the other party. The decision maker(s) will review previous disciplinary history as well.
If a hearing panel is used, the panelists will recommend the appropriate sanction(s) to the Hearing Officer, who will make the final determination on sanctions. The Hearing Officer may consult with the Title IX coordinator for students on any appropriate remedies for the Complainant.
If the decision maker(s) decides that there was a policy violation, they will recommend sanctions against the faculty or staff member. The decision and any sanction recommendations against a staff member will be forwarded to Human Resources for a decision on the recommended sanction(s). The decision and any sanction recommendations against a faculty member will be forwarded to the dean of the faculty member’s school for a decision on the recommended sanctions(s), and any other applicable procedures, will be followed prior to the sanction becoming final. After receiving the decision on the recommended sanction(s) from HR or the school’s Executive
Vice President, the Hearing Officer will include the final sanctions in the written letter of determination. The Hearing Officer may consult with the Title IX coordinator on any appropriate remedies for the Complainant.
Written Letter of Determination
The Hearing Officer will then prepare a written letter of determination. The letter of determination will identify the specific policy(ies) reported to have been violated, and will contain a description of the procedural steps taken by ACC from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and Witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held. The letter will also specify the finding on each alleged policy violation; the findings of fact that support the determination; conclusions regarding the application of the relevant policy to the facts; a statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions ACC imposes on the Respondent, and whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the ACC’s education programs or activities will be provided by ACC to the Complainant. The remedies are not typically shared with the Respondent unless the remedy directly relates to the Respondent. The Title IX coordinator is responsible for the implementation of any remedies.
Finally, the letter of determination will include ACC’s procedures and permissible bases for the Complainant and Respondent to appeal. Any sanctions imposed as a result of the hearing are stayed during the appeal process. To best provide support, parties are encouraged to let the Hearing Officer know immediately if they are appealing so that the sanctions (if any) may be stayed and the appropriate offices may be notified.
This letter of determination will be shared with the parties simultaneously by one or more of the following methods: emailed to the parties’ ACC email or designated accounts, delivered in person, or mailed to the local or permanent address(es) of the parties as indicated in official ACC records.
The determination regarding responsibility becomes final after the time period to file an appeal has expired, or if a party does file an appeal, after the appeal decision has been sent to the parties.
Both parties may appeal a determination of responsibility by the decision maker(s) to an Appeal Officer. The appeal must be submitted in writing via email or an online appeal form within seven calendar days of the issuance date of the written letter of determination. Any sanctions imposed as a result of the hearing are stayed during the appeal process.
In the written appeal, the party must specifically address at least one of the following criteria:
- New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility was made that could affect the outcome of the matter. The appealing party must provide a summary of this new evidence and its impact.
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter. The appealing party must identify the specific investigative or hearing procedure that was not followed, along with a summary of how it affected the outcome of the matter.
- Bias or conflict of interest by the Title IX coordinator, investigator(s) or decision maker(s) for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter. The appealing party must state the basis for this belief and provide any supporting information.
- Inappropriateness of the sanction for the violation of the Policy.
The written appeal will be shared with the other party, who may submit a written response within seven calendar days from the time the appeal is emailed to the student’s or employee’s ACC.edu account. This written response will be shared with the other party.
The appeal process normally takes 20 business days from the time the appeal is submitted by either party. The Appeal Officer will make a good faith effort to complete the appeal process as promptly as circumstances permit and will update the parties on the timing of any delay and the reasons for the delay.
Generally, the appellate process does not require the Appeal Officer to make personal contact with the involved parties or the decision maker(s). The Appeal Officer may, but is not required to, convene an Advisory committee to assist in making a recommendation regarding the appeal. The Appeal Officer will not be bound by the committee’s recommendation.
The Appeal Officer may affirm, reverse, or modify the sanction. The Appeal Officer may also return the case to the decision maker(s) for further consideration. The Appeal Officer’s decision will be final and effective immediately. A letter describing the result of the appeal and the rationale for the decision will be emailed simultaneously to both parties’ ACC.edu account.
Review Process and Acknowledgement of Sources
This Policy has been updated in accordance with the “Final Rule” guidelines. Acknowledgement to Alaska Christian College for applicable content.