Q. How do I decide whether to make a report or file a complaint? What’s the difference?

A. The decision to report an incident or file a formal complaint is a complicated and deeply personal decision. No matter what decision you make, know that you will be offered the emotional and academic support necessary to help you through this process. You have control over your experience and will be supported in maintaining that control. However, if there is a perceived threat of imminent danger to the campus community, or if the subject of the report has also been the subject of reports or complaints by other individuals in other instances, the Title IX coordinator may go forward with a college-initiated complaint, at which point all parties would be notified.

You can choose to report an incident without filing a formal complaint. Making a report simply alerts the college that an incident took place and helps you access support resources you might need. Filing a formal complaint indicates your desire for the incident to be investigated further. 

Unless you specifically indicate your desire to make a formal complaint against a specific party, a report will simply remain a report. If there is an imminent danger to the person or community, the College must take action regardless of the complainant's wishes. 

Q. Can a report be anonymous?

A. Yes, a report can be made anonymously. You may access the form here.

Q. Who might have access to my initial report?

A. There are people who must consult with each other in order to make a determination of whether an imminent danger exists or whether there is a pattern of misconduct. Only those people who need to know will know initially and anyone who knows will maintain the privacy of the complainant. When a report is filed online, the recipients include the Title IX coordinator, dean of students/deputy Title IX coordinator, vice president and general counsel, and vice president of student affairs. 

If you decide to file a complaint, other people will have information about your case, such as the investigators.

Q. What are my emotional support resources while making these decisions?

A. While deciding whether to report an incident, file a formal complaint, or simply to manage the effects of an incident of gender-based misconduct, you always have access to an array of on- and off-campus resources that are strictly confidential (meaning, they will not share anything without your permission unless they professionally deem you are an imminent threat to yourself or others). Confidential on-campus resources include the Counseling Center and Health Center. The YWCA is an off-campus confidential resource that you can access 24/7.

To obtain a full list of resources, please visit our Resource Page.

Q. What are interim remedies and how can I access them?

A. Interim remedies are measures taken to stabilize a situation, stop the gender-based misconduct, and support the people involved in an incident. Interim remedies could include, but are not limited to, academic modifications, such as a change in class schedule, taking an incomplete, dropping a course without penalty, attending a class remotely or other alternative means, providing an academic tutor, or extending deadlines for assignments. In addition, a change of housing assignment, work assignment, or work schedule are possible interim remedies.

 A complainant can access interim remedies without going through an investigation. Interim remedies are available before, during, and after a Title IX process.

Q. What happens financially and academically if I choose to take a leave of absence due to a sexual assault?

A. Every student’s academic history and personal financial situation are different. Generally speaking, this is decided on a case-by-case basis. The dean of students/deputy Title IX coordinator can help you navigate all of your options. 

Investigation

Q. How long can I expect an investigation to take?

A. The College seeks to complete its process within 60 days. The process may be extended due to extenuating circumstances of a case in order to ensure a thorough and fair process.

Q. What is the process of an investigation?

A. The investigative process is written in detail within the gender-based misconduct policy.

Q. What are my rights throughout the investigative stage?

A. As a complainant or respondent, you have the right to:

  • Protection from any form of retaliation
  • A support person of your choosing
  • A fair and prompt process

A comprehensive list of rights is listed within the gender-based misconduct policy.

Q. What is the timeframe within which I can bring forth an investigation?

A. Complainants and third-party witnesses are encouraged to report allegations of gender-based misconduct as soon as possible in order to maximize the College’s ability to respond promptly and effectively. The College does not, however, limit the timeframe for reporting. If the respondent is no longer a student or employee, the College will still seek to meet its Title IX obligation by taking steps to end the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.

Q. I am a student and a Title IX complaint has been filed against me. What do I do?

A. You are now a respondent in a case. This can be a scary and challenging time. You have access to the same on- and off-campus resources available to the complainant.

You will be contacted by the dean of students/deputy Title IX coordinator who will walk you through the process and resources available to you. As a respondent, you–just like the complainant–are entitled to have a support person present at any meetings and investigative interviews. 

Like the complainant, you will be notified and kept up to date, the charges will be explained to you, you will have the opportunity to name witnesses and submit evidence, and you have the right to appeal an outcome under the published grounds.

Q. What constitutes retaliation, and what doesn’t? Does it cover behavior by third parties?

A. Retaliation refers to acts or attempts to seek retribution against a complainant, respondent, witness, or any individual or groups of individuals involved in or after participation in the investigation and/or resolution of an allegation of gender-based misconduct. Retaliation can be committed by any individual or group of individuals, not just by a respondent or complainant. Retaliation can take many forms, including continued abuse or violence, and other forms of harassment or defamation. Retaliation is prohibited at Springfield College.

The following is not considered retaliation: talking to a confidential resource, seeking help from an adviser, requesting accommodations, or discussing your experience privately with close friends. The College’s retaliation policy applies to respondents, complainants, witnesses, and third parties.

Q. What do I do if I see or experience retaliation?

A. If you see or experience retaliation, you can report it to the Title IX coordinator, deputy Title IX coordinator, or to the Department of Public Safety. Everyone has a responsibility to abide by the policy against retaliation.

Q. Can I still go to the police even if I want an on-campus investigation?

A. Yes, members of a police department are always offered as a resource to you. You can choose to go through both channels, or one, or neither.

Q. What is the preponderance of evidence standard?

A. In an on-campus investigation, the preponderance of evidence standard means whether it is “more likely than not,” based upon the information provided through the investigation, that the respondent is responsible or not responsible for the alleged policy violation(s). This differs from a criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The College’s record will not reflect the terms “guilty” or “not guilty” as it is not a criminal investigation.

Q. Do I have to directly interact with the other party during the investigation process?

A. No, you will never be expected to speak to the other person involved in the process. During the investigation, you will each participate separately in the process.

Thank you to Grinnell College for sharing some of their FAQ information with us.