|Policy Approval Authority
|Responsible University Office
|Ethics and Compliance Office
|Ethics Compliance Officer
|Proposed Adoption Date
|Effective Adoption Date
|Last Review Date
Ethics & Conduct
Governance / Administration
The mission of Northern Illinois University ("NIU" or "the university") is to empower students through educational excellence and experiential learning as we pursue knowledge, share our research and artistry, and engage communities for the benefit of the region, state, nation and world. Pursuant to this mission, it is therefore crucial for the university to ensure that all members of its community have the right to learn and work in the safest possible academic environment and workplace and to be free from all forms of sexual misconduct. This is intended to be consistent with the preamble to the NIU constitution which declares, "Respect for the intrinsic dignity of each member of the university community, both by the university itself and by each member of that community, is the basic cornerstone governing all community activities."
This policy governs the university's response to sexual misconduct involving students, faculty and staff at the university. The goal of the corresponding formal grievance procedures is to provide the individual subjected to sexual misconduct (the complainant) with as much control over the process as possible, while balancing the rights of the accused individual (the respondent) and the university's obligation to protect its campus community.
All complaints and allegations filed in accordance with this policy will be examined in a fair and equitable manner and in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. As warranted by the facts of the situation,, suitable disciplinary or corrective action will be implemented whenever sexual misconduct or retaliation for opposing conduct/behavior that is believed to be unlawful or a form of sexual misconduct occurs. All corrective action will be implemented in accordance with applicable procedural and substantive due process principles and personnel procedures as stated by this or other applicable university policies. Additionally, visitors, guests and third-parties are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of others.
The procedures outlined in this document may proceed independent of any other university grievance or disciplinary procedure provided for elsewhere by the university including, but not limited to, non-union faculty/staff grievance process, nondiscrimination/harassment/retaliation complaint process, grade appeal process, student conduct process, student grievance process and collective bargaining/union grievance processes. The procedures herein will also proceed independently of any criminal investigation. The university reserves the right to forward any sexual misconduct report or formal complaint to the appropriate law enforcement agency for review if there is a concern for the safety of the complainant or campus community. Where an act in violation of this policy occurs in addition to other acts that may violate other university policies, both bases for violations of university policies may be investigated and disciplined accordingly.
The university prohibits all students, faculty and staff from engaging in sexual misconduct. This prohibition is consistent with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. ("Title IX"), which provides in part:
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.
The United States' Department of Education has advised that sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination. This policy and procedure is consistent with Title IX and the implementing regulations, along with applicable state law, to include the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, 110 ILCS 155/1 et seq., and the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, 5 ILCS 430/1-5 et seq., to the extent that state law does not conflict with federal laws and regulations.
Academic and employment decisions based upon actual or perceived sex or gender and/or acts of sexual misconduct are forms of unlawful sex discrimination under Title IX and additional federal and state laws. Such decisions are prohibited under this and other policies of NIU. The university does not discriminate on the basis of sex, gender or gender identity in any phase of its educational or employment programs; the university is required by Title IX and other applicable laws not so to discriminate.
No person may intimidate, threaten, coerce or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by this policy or Title IX, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy. Intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination for the purposes of interfering with any right or privilege secured by this policy constitutes retaliation.
Retaliation may occur even if no responsibility is found for the underlying complaint or investigation. Retaliation should be reported immediately to Sarah Garner, Title IX Coordinator, Ethics and Compliance Office, Health Services 230, 815-753-5560, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This policy applies to all students, faculty, staff and third parties, regardless of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political affiliation or any other factor unrelated to professional or educational qualifications.
This policy also applies to all sexual misconduct, whether it occurs in any academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic or other university program or activity, on- or off-campus, even if the sexual misconduct did not occur in the context of a university or education program or activity.
When the respondent is a member of the campus community, the formal grievance procedures outlined herein apply regardless of the status of the complainant, who may or may not be a member of the campus community.
If an employee's conduct does not meet the definition of sexual misconduct, as outlined herein, the university reserves the discretion to investigate the complaint pursuant to the procedures contained in the Nondiscrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policy and Complaint Procedures. However, this policy serves primarily as the governing document for the Ethics and Compliance Office (ECO) to conduct investigations of sexual misconduct involving employees and students.
If a complaint contains allegations concerning conduct that occurred prior to the effective date of this policy, the definitions of prohibited conduct contained within the policy that was effective at the time of the alleged incident will be used. The procedures in effect at the time in which the complaint is filed will be utilized regardless of when the alleged conduct occurred.
For the purpose of this policy, privacy and confidentiality have distinct meanings. Privacy means that information related to an incident will only be shared with a limited number of employees who "need to know" in order to assist in reporting, supportive measures, investigation, and ultimate resolution of what happened. All employees who are involved in the university's response to sexual misconduct, to include the Ethics and Compliance Office and campus law enforcement, receive specific training and guidance about sharing and safeguarding private information in accordance with state and federal law. Additionally, responsible employees are advised of the requirement that the information remain private. The privacy of student education records will be protected in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA"), as outlined in the university's Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs. The privacy of employee records will be protected in accordance with Human Resources policies.
Confidentiality exists in the context of laws that protect certain relationships and create privilege between certain healthcare providers, mental healthcare providers, attorneys, clergy, spouses, and others, with their patients, clients, parishioners, and spouses. The university has designated individuals who have the ability to have privileged communications as Confidential Resources. For more information about Confidential Resources, see Section III. When information is shared with a confidential resource, the confidential resource cannot reveal the information to any third party except when an applicable law or a court order requires or permits disclosure of such information. For example, information may be disclosed when the individual gives written consent for its disclosure, there is a concern that the individual will likely cause serious physical harm to self or others, or the information concerns conduct involving suspected abuse or neglect of a minor under the age of 18, elders, or individuals with disabilities.
For the purposes of the Clery Act reporting and disclosures, no identifying information about the complainant or reporting person will be disclosed in publicly available recordkeeping, such as the Daily Crime Log, Timely Warnings, or the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report (ASFSR).
All employees of the university, unless deemed confidential, are considered responsible employees and are required to report actual or suspected sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator as soon as they are made aware, but no longer than 48 hours after they learn of the sexual misconduct. This includes all faculty members, administrators (deans, department chairs, directors, vice presidents, etc.), teaching assistants, athletic coaches, student employees, community advisors (CAs), housing staff, faculty advisors, police officers, building service workers, dining hall employees and administrative professionals. If an employee is unsure whether they are a responsible employee, they are required to contact the Title IX Coordinator.
Responsible employees cannot and should not promise confidentiality.
Responsible employees must keep the information they are made aware of private and report to the Title IX Coordinator all relevant details of sexual misconduct that they become aware of. This includes the name of the accused individual (if known); the name of the person who experienced the sexual misconduct (if known); others involved in what happened; as well as relevant facts including the date, time and location of the incident. If this information is not shared with or known by the responsible employee, it is not their duty or role to ask or find out the information. Definitions of what constitutes sexual misconduct can be found in the Prohibited Conduct – Defined section of this policy. Reports can be made online at go.niu.edu/File-Misconduct.
Generally, disclosures in climate surveys, classroom writing assignments or discussions, human subjects research, or at events such as "Take Back the Night" marches or speak-outs, do not provide notice that must be reported to the Title IX Coordinator, unless the complainant clearly indicates that they desire a report to be made or seek a specific response from the university.
A report to the Title IX Coordinator may not automatically initiate a formal investigation. Rather, the purpose of this reporting obligation is to ensure that students and employees are aware of their rights and options to address what they have experienced, including the ability to obtain advocacy and support services and file a formal complaint. Additionally, it is a mechanism to report potential forms of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator to provide them with information about the campus climate regarding sexual misconduct.
Before a person reveals information that they may wish to keep confidential, a responsible employee should make every effort to ensure that the person understands:
A responsible employee's failure to report sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator and/or unreasonable delay in reporting is considered a performance issue and may lead to discipline, up to and including suspension and termination.
The university provides sexual misconduct training to students and employees. More information about training is found in the university's Policy on Programs to Prevent Sexual Misconduct. Prevention, Education and Outreach may be contacted related to violence prevention education.
Additional annual training on the issues related to sexual misconduct is provided to those involved in the receipt and resolution of sexual misconduct reports and complaints, including, but not limited to, coordinators, investigators, hearing officers, advisors, appeal agents, individuals who facilitate informal resolutions, confidential resources/advisors and law enforcement.
The university conducts campus climate surveys to better understand the nature and scope of sexual misconduct at the university, aid in the provision of support services, and enhance trainings provided to students and employees. Climate surveys may also be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator on a departmental or divisional basis to assess current or ongoing sexual misconduct concerns.
All staff and faculty are required by Illinois law (325 ILCS 5/4) to report suspected or known child abuse or neglect to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Accordingly, all employees of NIU must report suspected sexual misconduct perpetrated against those under the age of 18 to the DCFS hotline at 800-252-2873. Learn more about DCFS.
NIU faculty, staff and students with questions concerning the application of Title IX to the university's intercollegiate athletic programs and activities may contact Courtney Vinson, Intercollegiate Athletics, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics, 1525 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, IL 60115, 815-753-1295, email@example.com.
Students and employees who experience sexual misconduct may seek assistance through a confidential resource. Conversations with confidential resources are not disclosed to others, including police or university officials. This means that a disclosure to a confidential resource about sexual misconduct does not put the university on notice of the incident, and therefore, an investigation into the matter will not result.
Below is a list of confidential resources available to students and employees who have been subjected to sexual misconduct. A report or complaint is not necessary to utilize these resources.
NIU Confidential Advisor: on-campus, free and for students
Center for Student Assistance, Campus Life 150, 815-753-8300
Note: The Confidential Advisor is designated to receive confidential reports for inclusion in the Annual Safety and Security Report, per the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act ("Clery Act"), 20 U.S.C. § 1092. The identity of the reporting party will not be disclosed when making the report for inclusion purposes.
Collecting evidence may be necessary for criminal prosecution and may be helpful in obtaining an order of protection. It is recommended not to bathe, wash one's hands, use the restroom, drink, smoke, change clothing or brush one's teeth before seeking medical attention.
The nearest hospital to the DeKalb campus is Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, located at 1 Kishwaukee Hospital Drive, DeKalb, IL, 815-756-1521. NIU Police may provide transportation to the hospital. The hospital provides trained nurses to collect evidence at no cost for individuals who have been sexually assaulted or abused, pursuant to the Illinois Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act, 410 ILCS 70/7.5. Upon arrival at the hospital, an advocate from Safe Passage will generally be available to assist the individual in understanding what to expect and answering any questions they may have.
Type of Services Available
Counseling / Mental Health
Counseling and Mental Health (for students)
*NIU Counseling and Consultation Services
Counseling and Mental Health (for employees)
*NIU Employee Well-being
*NIU Psychological Services Center
Couple and Family Therapy
*NIU Couple and Family Therapy Clinic
*Northwestern Medicine Student Health Center at NIU
Victim Advocacy and Advising
*NIU Confidential Advisor
Consultation, Advocacy and Court Representation Services
*NIU Students' Legal Assistance
Visa and Immigration Assistance
Advising for International Students and Faculty
NIU International Student and Scholar Services
Undocumented Student Support
NIU Office of Undocumented Student Support
Student Financial Aid
NIU Financial Aid and Scholarship Office
Guidance on University Issues
General Student Assistance
NIU Center for Student Assistance
Counseling / Mental Health
Counseling and Other Essential Services
Family Service Agency
Emotional and Mental Health Services
*Northwestern Medicine Behavioral Health Services
Health Care and Evidence Collection
Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital
Victim Advocacy Services
*Prairie State Legal Services
DeKalb County State's Attorney's Office
Visa and Immigration Assistance
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program
Student Financial Aid
Federal Student Aid Office of the United States Department of Education
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline
State of Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline
National Sexual Assault Hotline
*The service providers listed above with an asterisk are confidential.
Other resources available include:
Any student or employee found to have committed or to have attempted to commit the following forms of sexual misconduct is in violation of this policy and will be subjected to corrective action.
Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, type of relationship, and frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. For the purposes of this definition—
A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed—
Unwelcome conduct on the basis of actual or perceived gender determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the university's education program or activity. Gender includes gender, gender identity, and gender expression.
Any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the complainant, including instances where the complainant is incapable of giving consent. Sexual assault also includes the following:
Rape—Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the complainant.
Sodomy—Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly and/or against that person's will (non-consensually) or not forcibly or against the person's will in instances where the complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
Sexual Assault With An Object—To use an object or instrument to penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly and/or against that person's will (non-consensually) or not forcibly or against the person's will in instances where the complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
Fondling—The touching of the private body parts of another person (buttocks, anus, groin, breasts) for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly and/or against that person's will (non-consensually) or not forcibly or against the person's will in instances where the complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
Incest—Nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by Illinois law.
Statutory Rape—Nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent of 17.
An employee conditions the provision of university aid, benefit, or service on an individual's participation in unwelcome sexual conduct.
Unwelcome conduct on the basis of actual or perceived sex determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the university's education program or activity. Sex includes sex and sexual orientation.
Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person on the basis of their sex that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress. Course of conduct means two or more acts in which a person directly, indirectly or through third parties: follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, communicates to or about a person, or interferes with another's personal property. Substantial emotion distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
Note: Definitions used by law enforcement for purposes of criminal investigation and prosecution may differ. Please consult with the respective law enforcement agency or advocate about what conduct constitutes a crime according to the Illinois Criminal Code.
Any individual, regardless of their affiliation with the university, may file a sexual misconduct report. Responsible employees, as discussed under the Responsible Employee section, are required to promptly file a sexual misconduct report with the university.
A report places the university on notice of what is alleged to have happened. A report does not necessarily initiate the university's formal grievance process/investigation. Rather, after a report is made, the identified complainant (victim) will be promptly contacted in order to receive information about their rights and options, including how to file a formal complaint with the university.
A report may be filed using one of the following options:
Additional documents may be submitted with the report (e.g., police report, emails), but are not required.
The university expects that all sexual misconduct reports are submitted in good faith. All incidents of sexual misconduct will be taken seriously by the university when formally reported, and such incidents will be assessed in accordance with the procedures contained herein.
The individual that has been subjected to sexual misconduct (the complainant) has the right to file a formal sexual misconduct complaint. The formal complaint will initiate the university's formal grievance process/investigation.
A formal complaint may be filed using one of the following options:
The Title IX Coordinator also reserves the discretion to sign a formal complaint based on information contained within a report of sexual misconduct to initiate the university's formal grievance process. When the Title IX Coordinator signs the formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator does not become the complainant. The individual alleged to have been subjected to the sexual misconduct is the complainant. The complainant may designate an individual to serve as their proxy, in accordance with FERPA, throughout the process to receive and respond to notices and documentation related to the investigation. The proxy, however, may not provide testimony or evidence on behalf of the complainant. The proxy may serve in the capacity of an advisor.
Additional documents may be submitted with the formal complaint (e.g., police report, emails), but are not required.
All formal sexual misconduct complaints are assumed to be made in good faith. However, if the evidence establishes that the formal complaint was intentionally falsely made, corrective/disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including suspension, expulsion, or termination. This does not include allegations that are made in good faith but are ultimately shown to be erroneous or do not result in a finding that the policy was violated.
For information on what to expect after a formal sexual misconduct complaint is filed, please see the University Formal Grievance Process section.
Any individual may file a police report by contacting the following departments:
For incidents that occur on campus:
For incidents that occur off campus:
For incidents that occur off-campus and outside of DeKalb, individuals are encouraged to contact the local police department in the city where the incident occurred.
Anyone who goes to the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety to report an incident will meet with a police officer to discuss the incident. The police officer will provide information related to available on- and off-campus services and resources. The police officer may also accompany individuals to the hospital for evidence gathering or provide transportation if it is otherwise unavailable. An official police report will then be generated. The police officer will notify the Title IX Coordinator that an instance of alleged sexual misconduct has occurred.
If the incident is determined to be criminal in nature, the police may continue to investigate the matter. After the investigation is complete, criminal charges may be brought against the accused individual and the DeKalb County State's Attorney may become involved in the matter. A warrant for the accused individual's arrest may be issued, if they were not already arrested.
A police report or formal criminal complaint are not considered formal complaints with the university. While the Title IX Coordinator or designee is advised of all police reports made to the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety involving alleged sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator might not be informed of police reports from other police departments or law enforcement agencies.
Individuals may obtain assistance making a police report or complaint by contacting the Confidential Advisor at the Center for Student Assistance, 815-753-8300, or a Safe Passage designee, 815-756- 5228. See above Confidential Resources section for more information.
Amnesty aims to remove the barriers that may prevent an individual from reporting an incident of sexual misconduct or from participating as a witness in an investigation with the university. If an individual reports an incident of sexual misconduct, in good faith, or participates in an investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will not pursue disciplinary action for that individual for a separate university policy violation (such as underage drinking) that is revealed in the course of the report or formal grievance process. However, if the separate violation was egregious, including, but not limited to an action that places the health or safety of any other person at risk, amnesty may not be afforded by the Title IX Coordinator.
An individual may request that the details surrounding the incident not be disclosed during the reporting process (reporting confidentiality) or that their name or identity is not shared with the Title IX Coordinator during the reporting process (reporting anonymously).
If an individual wishes to make a confidential report, the Title IX Coordinator will determine if confidentiality can be afforded. Where there is a likelihood of further harm to the complainant and/or the campus community, confidentiality may not be honored. The Title IX Coordinator may also consult with appropriate university officials regarding the request for confidentiality. In all situations, the individual who is requesting confidentiality will be provided information on resources and take steps to address the misconduct while respecting the request for confidentiality, if honored. Confidential reports can be made to the Title IX Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-753-5560.
If an individual chooses not to share their name or identity, the university's ability to respond and take appropriate corrective action may be impeded. Nevertheless, the university will attempt to provide resources as provided herein, take steps to address the misconduct, remedy the effects and prevent its recurrence. Anonymous reports can be made to the Title IX Coordinator at email@example.com or 815-753-5560.
Confidential resources described herein can also assist in reporting confidentially or anonymously.
Supportive measures are non-disciplinary and non-punitive individualized services designed to restore or preserve equal access to the university's program or activity, or protect the safety of all parties or the education environment, or deter sexual harassment. They are reasonably available on a confidential basis to the complainant or the respondent before or after the filing of a formal complaint or where no formal complaint has been filed. Supportive measures may include changes to academic, living, transportation and working situations that do not unreasonably burden the other party. Examples of supportive measures include the following:
The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of supportive measures, and will maintain as confidential any measures provided to the complainant or respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the Title IX Coordinator to provide the supportive measure. The university will act to ensure as minimal of an impact on the parties as possible when implementing supportive measures.
To request a supportive measure, contact the Title IX Coordinator in-person, over the phone, via email or mail. The request of a supportive measure does not initiate the university's formal grievance process.
The university is responsible for complying with external orders of protection, no-contact orders, restraining orders and similar lawful orders issued by a criminal, civil or tribal court. If a student or employee obtains a lawful order, it is recommended that they maintain a copy in their possession and provide the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety with a copy.
The university has the ability to remove a student-respondent from an education program or activity on an emergency basis when an individualized determination has been made that there is an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations of sexual misconduct. This includes the student-respondent's partial or entire removal from the university. The determination is decided by the Title IX Coordinator in conjunction with the Department of Police and Public Safety and Student Affairs. Other university officials may be consulted with when necessary as deemed by the Title IX Coordinator.
The student-respondent will be provided with notice that they are being removed and the scope of the removal. The student-respondent will have an opportunity to challenge the decision within two (2) calendar days of receiving the notice regarding the removal. Challenges must be made in writing to the Title IX Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Title IX Coordinator will provide the appeal agent with information related to the emergency removal and challenge.
An emergency removal may occur absent a formal grievance process. A decision to remove a student on an emergency basis is not a decision that a student has or has not engaged in a violation of this policy. Violation of an emergency removal under this policy will be grounds for discipline, which may include expulsion.
The university has the ability to place an employee-respondent on administrative leave pending completion of the university's formal grievance process.
A formal complaint signed by the complainant or Title IX Coordinator will initiate the university's formal grievance process.
There is no explicit time in which a formal complaint must be filed. However, if the respondent is no longer a member of the campus community or significant time has passed, the ability to investigate, respond and provide remedies may be limited or impeded.
Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the complainant and respondent will receive notice that the university's formal grievance process has been initiated. The notice will include the allegations constituting the basis of the formal complaint, including the identities of the parties, details of the alleged conduct, and the date and location of the incident, if known.
The notice will be amended and sent to both parties if clarifying information is provided related to the alleged violation(s) of this policy, or if additional information is alleged to have occurred that constitutes an additional violation of this policy.
After both parties are notified of the formal complaint, and absent a dismissal or referral, an investigation will occur to the maximum extent possible. The university is responsible for gathering evidence, which will include separate interviews with the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses and collection of nontestimonial evidence, such as social media posts, photographs, etc. During the interview, the investigator will explain this policy and procedures and answer any questions. The person being interviewed will then be able to give their version of events, list the names of any potential witnesses (including fact and expert witnesses), and provide both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. The complainant and respondent may also suggest questions to the investigator(s) to be asked of the other party at the discretion of the investigator(s).
The following rules apply to all investigations:
At the conclusion of the investigation, the complainant, the respondent and their advisors, if any, will be provided with an Evidentiary Report which contains all the statements and evidence obtained during the investigation. Both parties will have an opportunity to provide a response to the Evidentiary Report within ten (10) calendar days. Responses will be incorporated into the final Investigative Report, which is provided to both parties and their advisors prior to any hearing. Both parties and their advisor may provide a response to the Investigative Report within ten (10) calendar days.
The complainant or the respondent may request participation in an informal resolution pending completion of the investigation, or after reviewing the Evidentiary or Investigative Report. See Informal Resolution section for additional information on this process.
Investigators are neutral fact-finders. As such, investigators do not function as advocates or advisors for any of the involved parties. Investigators will, however, inform individuals about other university offices where they may seek support, advocacy or advisement. Investigators do not engage in policy analysis nor provide recommendations to the hearing officers. Investigators will not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against the complainant or respondent. If a complainant or respondent believes that the assigned investigator has a conflict of interest or bias, the complainant and respondent will have an opportunity to challenge their appointment to the Title IX Coordinator. Instructions about challenges are provided in the initial notice of sexual misconduct complaint and investigation.
The complainant and respondent may each have one support person present at any proceeding, other than the hearing, to provide support. A support person may be in addition to an advisor. Support persons may not speak on behalf of the party in any proceeding; however the complainant or respondent may consult with the support person during the proceeding. The involvement of a support person cannot result in an undue delay of the proceeding(s). Additionally, the support person must comply with the rules contained herein. Failure to comply with or engagement in behavior that is disruptive or harasses, intimidates, or abuses any party or witness, may result in their prohibition in future involvement in the process. Any individual who is participating in this capacity is expected to maintain the same level of privacy that is expressed throughout these procedures.
Individuals who may be a co-complainant, co-respondent, witness, hold a supervisory position over the complainant or respondent or be in a position that may suggest a conflict of interest may not serve as a support person.
The assigned investigator must be notified in writing in advance of the presence of a support person.
A support person is prohibited from attending any hearing, unless that person is required by law, such as a union representative, attorney, language interpretation, or providing an accommodation for a disability.
The complainant or respondent may also have an advisor of their choice present during any stage of the formal grievance process. Advisors are responsible for attending a hearing, if any, with the party and for conducting cross-examination during the hearing; whereas, support persons are not permitted to attend a hearing or conduct cross-examination. The involvement of an advisor cannot result in an undue delay of the proceeding(s). Additionally, the advisor must comply with the rules contained herein. Failure to comply with or engagement in behavior that is disruptive or harasses, intimidates, or abuses any party or witness, may result in their prohibition in future involvement in the process. Any individual who is participating in this capacity is expected to maintain the same level of privacy that is expressed throughout these procedures. An advisor may be in addition to a support person during the formal grievance process.
An advisor is required if the grievance process results in a hearing. The identity of the advisor must be disclosed prior to the hearing. Failure to provide the identity of the selected advisor may result in the university appointing an advisor to that party.
Advisors, whether appointed by the university or selected by the complainant or respondent, are required to participate in a pre-hearing meeting prior to their attendance at a hearing. Failure of the selected advisor to attend the pre-hearing meeting will result in their disqualification from participating in the hearing and may result in the university appointing an advisor to that party.
The university maintains a group of trained advisors that are available to a party to serve as their advisor without a fee or charge for the limited purpose of conducting any questioning of the other party and witnesses at a hearing. The name of the appointed university advisor will be provided to a party upon request and may only be available if the process results in a hearing.
The university cannot guarantee equal advisory rights. Meaning, if one party selects an advisor who is an attorney, but the other party does not or cannot afford an attorney, the university is not obligated to provide an attorney.
Advisors are expected to maintain the privacy of the records shared with them. These records may not be shared with third parties, disclosed publicly, or used for purposes not explicitly authorized by the university.
If the complainant or respondent is a member of a union, they have the right to have union representation present throughout the formal grievance process. Union representation may be in addition to a support person and/or advisor. The assigned investigator must be notified in writing in advance of the presence of a union representative. If the complainant and respondent are members of the same union, they may not be represented by the same union representative.
Neither party is entitled to legal representation as the formal grievance procedures are administrative proceedings. However, attorneys may serve in the capacity of a support person or advisor, as described above. If a party plans to have legal representation as a support person or advisor during the proceeding, their involvement must be disclosed to the investigator in advance of any investigative interview and hearing.
All individuals who participate in the university's formal grievance process, including the complainant, respondent, support person(s), advisor(s), and witness(es) during the investigation and/or hearing, are required to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with this policy. As stated throughout this policy, individuals are not permitted to be disruptive or harass, intimidate, abuse, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual involved in the formal grievance process, including conduct against the Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), hearing officer, or appeal agents. Participants are also prohibited from providing a materially false statement in bad faith, knowingly submitting false information, persuading others not to participate in the formal grievance process (whether successful or not), and applying pressure to not fully cooperate. If a student or employee engages in any of the described conduct, they will be referred to the appropriate disciplinary process, including a charge under the Student Code of Conduct or progressive discipline.
The Complainant, Respondent, and others involved in the formal grievance procedures (support persons, advisors, witnesses, etc.) are prohibited from disseminating, dispersing, or sharing any information/evidence generated by the Title IX Coordinator, investigator and/or hearing officer for purposes of retaliation, bullying, disruptive behavior, harassment, or other violation of this Policy or the university's Student Code of Conduct. If a student or employee disseminates, disperses, or shares any information described in this section, they will be referred to the appropriate disciplinary process, including a charge under the Student Code of Conduct or progressive discipline.
This section does not prohibit the Complainant or Respondent to share information for purposes related to the sexual misconduct formal grievance process, such as developing questions with their advisor.
NIU is committed to providing accessible grievance procedures. Any party or witness requiring an accommodation due to a disability and/or language interpretation during the sexual misconduct process should contact the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.
Where the facts alleged in a formal complaint are not contested, where the respondent has admitted or wishes to admit responsibility, or where both parties want to resolve the case without a completed investigation or hearing, the parties may participate in an informal resolution of the formal complaint that does not require a full investigation or hearing. The ultimate decision on whether informal resolution is available and appropriate, including the terms, rests with the Title IX Coordinator.
Informal resolution may occur after:
Informal resolution is only offered after a formal complaint is filed. If the complainant or respondent wishes to engage in informal resolution, the request should be made to the Title IX Coordinator or investigator prior to reaching a determination regarding responsibility.
The complainant or respondent is not permitted to appeal terms of the informal resolution which are agreed upon.
If the conduct alleged in the formal complaint does not constitute a violation of this policy, the evidence gathered during the investigation does not establish a violation of this policy, the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the university, or specific circumstances prevent the university from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination of responsibility, the Title IX Coordinator or designee reserves the right to dismiss the formal complaint or refer the matter to an applicable university policy. If the formal complaint is dismissed or referred, both parties will be notified in writing along with the reason why the formal complaint is being dismissed or referred.
The complainant and respondent have a right to appeal the dismissal or referral on the following grounds:
An appeal to a dismissal or referral must be made to the executive vice president and provost, or designee, within five calendar days of the written notification. Appeals submitted after five calendar days will be denied.
Within two calendar days after an appeal is received, the non-appealing party will be provided notice of the appeal and be provided the opportunity to submit a written statement in support of, or challenging, the dismissal or referral. The non-appealing party will be provided five calendar days to submit a written statement. Thereafter, the executive vice president and provost, or designee, will provide a written response simultaneously to both parties within five calendar days after the decision is made.
At the conclusion of the investigation and absent informal resolution, a hearing will be conducted to determine responsibility. The hearing will be held at least ten calendar days after the parties and their advisors receive the Investigative Report.
Before the hearing is held, an initial notice of the hearing will be sent to both parties and their advisor. The initial notice will contain the identity of the hearing officer, how to object to the appointment of the hearing officer, and date on which the hearing will take place. The initial notice also contains information about the required pre-hearing meeting.
During the pre-hearing meeting, both parties and their advisors will separately meet with the Title IX Coordinator, or designee, to discuss the rules of the hearing and any other questions the parties or their advisors may have will be answered. The party's advisor must attend this meeting and failure to attend may result in their disqualification from participating in the hearing.
The hearing will be conducted by a neutral hearing officer, who is not the Title IX Coordinator or investigator(s).
The following rules apply to all hearings:
At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer will issue a written determination regarding responsibility. The determination will be made based on a preponderance of evidence, which is defined as whether it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct occurred and constitutes a violation of this policy evaluated from the perspective of a similarly situated reasonable person when considering the totality of the circumstances involved in the matter.
The hearing officer's written determination will be provided to the complainant and respondent separately and simultaneously within seven calendar days of reaching a decision. The written determination will include the allegations contained within the notice, a description of the procedural steps taken from receipt of the formal complaint to conclusion of the hearing, a finding of facts supporting the determination, a conclusion regarding the application of this policy to the facts, a statement and rationale for the determination of responsibility, any sanctions imposed on the respondent, and remedies provided to the complainant.
The determination regarding responsibility becomes final either on the date that the appeal response is provided (if an appeal has been filed), or the date on which an appeal would no longer be considered timely. Sanctions will be in effect after the determination is final.
If a decision is made that no violation of policy has occurred, the university reserves the discretion to transfer the matter to an applicable university policy/process.
The complainant and respondent have a right to appeal the results of the hearing (to include a finding of responsibility and sanctions). One or more of the following grounds for appeal must be selected:
An appeal of the hearing results must be made to the executive vice president and provost, or designee, within five calendar days of the written hearing results. Appeals submitted after five calendar days will be denied.
Within two calendar days after an appeal is received, the non-appealing party will be provided notice of the appeal and be provided the opportunity to submit a written statement in support of, or challenging, the hearing results. The non-appealing party will be provided five calendar days to submit a written statement. Thereafter, the executive vice president and provost or designee will provide a written response simultaneously to both parties within five calendar days after the decision is made.
If the executive vice president and provost, or designee, is the individual that rendered an appeal decision regarding dismissal or referral of a formal complaint, a different individual will be appointed to render an appeal decision regarding responsibility and sanctions.
Any student found responsible for violating this policy may receive sanctions to include the following:
Any employee found responsible for violating this policy may receive corrective action to include the following:
Any third-party (visitor, guest, contractor, subcontractor, vendor, partner or business affiliate) who engaged in sexual misconduct will receive a sanction ranging from a written warning to banishment from any university property, activities and/or programs, including the termination of any business contract with the university.
In addition to the supportive measures described in this document, the following remedies may be available to the complainant at the conclusion of an investigation or hearing resolution whether or not a respondent is found to be responsible:
The role of the Title IX Coordinator is to manage, implement and administer this policy, including the enforcement of the formal grievance process provided herein, provide oversight to the sexual misconduct training programs, and ensuring the prompt and appropriate resolution of sexual misconduct complaints. Questions or concerns regarding sexual misconduct, Title IX, this policy, or other aspects of the university's commitment to equal opportunity may be directed to:
Sarah Garner, Title IX Coordinator, Ethics and Compliance Officer
Ethics and Compliance Office
Health Services 230
Inquiries/questions regarding Title IX may also be referred to:
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661-4544
Questions and/or concerns may also be referred to the deputy Title IX coordinators listed below:
Housing and Residential Services
Executive Vice President and Provost
Ethics and Compliance Office
Division of Student Affairs
At any time during the pendency of the above-described formal grievance process, investigation, hearing and/or appeal, students and employees with questions about Title IX or those who believe they have been subjected to sexual misconduct or retaliation may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR):
Office for Civil Rights (Chicago Office)
U.S. Department of Education
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661-4544
At any time during the pendency of the above-described formal grievance process, investigation, hearing or appeal, employees who believe they have been subjected to sexual misconduct or retaliation may file a complaint with the following agencies:
|Illinois Department of Human Rights
100 West Randolph Street
10th Floor – Intake Unit
Chicago, Illinois 60601
TTY: 866-740 3953
|Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Chicago District Office
500 West Madison Street, Suite 2000
Chicago, Illinois 60661
|Office of the Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor
69 West Washington Street, Suite 3400
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Phone: 312- 814-5600 or 866- 814-1113
Fax: 312- 814-5479
Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Helpline
Consent must be mutually understandable by words or actions (i.e., a reasonable person would consider the words or actions to indicate mutual agreement to engage in the sexual activity). Consent is active and cannot be based on the absence of an affirmative statement or act of denial. Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent.
Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated (including but not limited to a person or someone with a physical or mental disability and/or level of intoxication that causes impairment resulting in incapacitation), asleep, or unconscious; and the respondent knew or should have known that the person was incapacitated, asleep, or unconscious.
Consent cannot be the result of force (violence, physical restraint or the presence of a weapon); threats (indications of intent to harm, whether direct or indirect); intimidation (extortion, menacing behavior, bullying); coercion (undue pressure); or fraud (misrepresentation or material omission about oneself or the situation in order to gain permission for sexual or intimate activity).
Seeking and receiving consent is the responsibility of the person(s) initiating the sexual act(s) regardless of whether the person initiating the act(s) is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not in and of itself constitute consent to any other sexual act. Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not constitute consent to engage in sexual activity with another.
Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time. Consent cannot be inferred by an individual's manner of dress, the giving or acceptance of gifts, the extension or acceptance of an invitation to go to a private room or location, or going on a date.
Consent must be given to engage in the act of sexual activity, and consent must also be given to any person who records or photographs any aspect of the sexual activity as well as third parties who wish to view the sexual activity either in person or via any electronic equipment, methods or devices.
The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Generally, an incapacitated individual is incapable of recognizing what is occurring and is not able to recognize the nature of sexual activity or the extent of a sexual situation. Some ways in which a person can be incapacitated as a result of alcohol use may include, but is not limited to, lack of control over physical movements, lack of awareness of circumstances or surroundings or the inability to communicate for any reason. The individual may experience a blackout state in which they appear to be giving consent but does not actually have conscious awareness or the ability to consent.
NIU's Title IX Coordinator is Sarah Garner, Ethics and Compliance Office, Health Services 230, 815-753-5560, email@example.com.
A complaint of sexual harassment filed using these procedures against an employee that does not meet this definition, but may meet the definition of sexual harassment as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act will be processed under the university's Nondiscrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policy and Procedures for Students, Faculty and Staff ("Nondiscrimination Policy"). Sexual harassment under the Nondiscrimination Policy occurs when the harassing behavior is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with an employee's work or a student's performance, or creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work/academic environment.