FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the new Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy & University Sexual Misconduct Policy

Last updated August 3, 2020

In May of 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued new regulations mandating how colleges and universities must investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct cases under Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender in any federally-funded education program or activity.  Like all educational institutions that receive federal funding, Princeton was required to amend its current policies to implement these new regulations; as a result, the University has issued new policies relating to sexual misconduct. 

  • One policy, the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy, addresses sexual misconduct that falls within the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX regulations.  This policy is specifically limited in its jurisdiction. 
  • A second policy, the University Sexual Misconduct policy, addresses sexual misconduct that does not fall within the scope of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX regulations.

These FAQs are intended to provide responses to frequently asked questions related to these new policies.  However, the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy themselves are the best sources of information.  In addition, you are encouraged to visit the Sexual Misconduct & Title IX website and the Sexual Misconduct Investigations website, which provide additional detailed information on topics such as supportive measures, the informal resolution process, investigations, appeals, and advisers.

These FAQs are preliminary in nature and are subject to change as additional details related to the implementation of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy are determined in the coming weeks.

Princeton University building architecture in foreground of blue sky with clouds above

1. What University policies govern sexual misconduct?

The University has two policies that govern sexual misconduct:  the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy.  (In addition, the Policy on Discrimination and Harassment addresses discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics, including sex, gender identity or expression, and sexual orientation.)

2. Under these new policies, will conduct that previously constituted a violation of University policy continue to constitute a violation of University policy?

Yes.  Conduct that previously constituted a violation of University policy will continue to constitute a violation of University policy.  However, such conduct may be adjudicated under different grievance procedures (e.g., the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy, the University Sexual Misconduct policy, the Policy against Discrimination and Harassment).

3. What kinds of conduct fall under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy versus the University Sexual Misconduct policy?

The Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy are inter-related and must be read together. 

Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

The Title IX Sexual Harassment policy is based on definitions set forth in regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education under Title IX, and the scope of the policy is limited under the regulations to the following:

  1. conduct that occurs within the United States; and
  2. conduct that occurs within the University’s education program or activity.

When those two parameters have been met, the policy applies to allegations of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Title IX Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking.

For example, depending on the circumstances, the following types of allegations would likely fall under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy:

  • Student A alleges that Student B sexually assaulted them in Student A’s on-campus dormitory room/apartment.
  • Student A alleges that Student B engaged in dating violence at Frist Campus Center.
  • Student A alleges that Faculty Member B engaged in severe and pervasive sexual harassment of them in an on-campus laboratory.
  • Student A alleges that Faculty Member B engaged in quid pro quo sexual harassment of them during field work in California.

University Sexual Misconduct Policy

The University Sexual Misconduct applies to allegations of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Title IX Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking that do not fall under the parameters of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy.  Therefore, the University Sexual Misconduct policy may apply to:

  1. conduct that occurs in the local vicinity (e.g., an eating club) but outside of a University program or activity; or
  2. conduct that occurs outside of the United States when the conduct is associated with a University-sponsored program or activity, such as travel, research, or internship programs; or
  3. conduct that involves the use of the University’s computing and network resources from a remote location, including but not limited to accessing email accounts.

In addition, the University Sexual Misconduct policy applies to certain forms of sexual misconduct that do not fall under the scope of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy, including Sexual Exploitation, Improper Conduct related to Sex, and University Sexual Harassment.

For example, depending on the circumstances, the following types of allegations would likely fall under the University Sexual Misconduct policy:

  • Student A alleges that Student B sexually assaulted them in an eating club.
  • Student A alleges that Student B sexually assaulted them while attending a study abroad program in Japan.
  • Student A alleges that Student B engaged in dating violence at a restaurant on Nassau Street.
  • Student A alleges that Faculty Member B engaged in quid pro quo sexual harassment of them at an academic conference in France.
  • Student A alleges that Student B engaged in sexual exploitation of them (in any setting).
4. What are some of the main differences between the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy grievance process and the University Sexual Misconduct grievance process?

Many aspects of the two processes are very similar, including the initial assessment, the investigation, sanction determination, and appeal.  There are some key differences, however, including: 

  • During the Title IX Sexual Harassment hearing, parties’ advisers can cross-examine (directly question) the other party and witnesses, provided that the questions are deemed relevant.  In contrast, during the University Sexual Misconduct hearing, parties may only submit written cross examination questions for the other party and witnesses.
  • In the Title IX Sexual Harassment process, if parties or witnesses do not attend the hearing or they decline to be cross-examined, any information/evidence that they have provided cannot be used/considered in the adjudication.  The University Sexual Misconduct policy does not include this evidentiary limitation.
5. How will I know which policy applies to the alleged conduct?

If you are a complainant who is interested in learning more about potential disciplinary options, we encourage you to contact the Office of Gender Equity & Title IX Administration (ptitleix@princeton.edu).  If you were interested in pursuing further options, you would be asked to file a formal complaint, at which point an initial assessment would be conducted by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator in order to determine which policy most appropriately applies to the alleged conduct.

Following the initial assessment of a formal complaint, both parties will be notified in writing regarding next steps (e.g., regarding an investigation or informal resolution process).

6. What if the alleged conduct falls under both policies (e.g., multiple acts of dating violence that occurred both on and off-campus)?

When an initial assessment or investigation indicates that both the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy may apply to the allegations, the grievance process set forth in the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy will apply to all allegations.

7. Who will serve as my adviser during an investigation/adjudication under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or the University Sexual Misconduct policy?

Under both policies, throughout the investigation/adjudication process, each party may have an adviser of their choice to provide guidance throughout the process.  An adviser may be a member or non-member of the University community and may be an attorney.  If a party seeks to engage an attorney to serve as their adviser, the University will provide certain pre-determined financial resources to assist in that engagement.  For additional information, see FAQs regarding Advisers.

8. What if I am not interested in a formal disciplinary investigation but would like to take some action—are informal resolutions available?

Yes.  The new regulations permit universities to facilitate the resolution of sexual misconduct cases through an informal process, within certain parameters.  For more information, please see the Informal Resolution Process FAQs.