FAQs

Additional Questions

If you have additional questions regarding the investigation process that are not covered on this website or in the Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, please see the following additional FAQs. 

In addition, you may contact the Title IX Coordinator (Vice Provost Michele Minter, mminter@princeton.edu) or Director of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration  (Regan Crotty, rehunt@princeton.edu) with any questions regarding the sexual misconduct policy or investigation process.

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1. Will filing a complaint with the University impact my immigration status and/or financial aid?

No.  The University has and will continue to support complainants so that their immigration status and/or financial aid are not affected.

2. What if a complainant changes their mind and decides they do not want the matter investigated or adjudicated?

If the complainant wants the University’s investigation or adjudication to stop, the complainant should convey this request to the Title IX Coordinator.  The Title IX Coordinator will consider the complainant’s concerns, whether the complainant’s educational or workplace experience can be preserved absent an investigation, the best interests of the campus community, fairness to all individuals involved, and the University’s obligations under Title IX.  Generally, the University has an obligation to investigate and adjudicate all alleged acts of sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, and related prohibited behaviors, provided that the University has sufficient information to investigate the matter absent the complainant’s participation.  The Title IX Coordinator may ask the panel to proceed with the investigation/adjudication even if the complainant would prefer otherwise.  For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.10 #1.

3. What if the complainant or respondent is a third party?

Third parties (parties who are not current Princeton University students, faculty, or staff members) are both protected by and subject to the University’s policy on Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct.  As in all cases, in conducting an initial assessment of complaints involving third parties, the Title IX Coordinator will consider whether pursuing an investigation will further preserve the complainant’s educational or workplace experience, the safety of all parties, and the broader University community.  

If a third party complainant wishes to make a complaint or report of a violation of this policy committed by a member of the University community, they should contact the Title IX Coordinator.  Such complainants will be bound by the terms of the policy, including making themselves available for meetings with University officials and meeting deadlines set by the panel.  Both third party complainants and third party respondents will be required to abide by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits improper disclosure or redisclosure of confidential student information.  For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.2.

4. The alleged sexual misconduct occurred off campus. Can the University take action?

Support resources are available to members of the University community regardless of where or when the misconduct occurred or who else was involved.  Whether the University can take disciplinary action depends on the facts of the individual situation and whether the individuals involved are current members of the University community (for example, a student, faculty, or staff member).  Generally, the University regulates conduct by members of the University community that occurs on campus and in the local vicinity.  Actions by a member of the University community occurring in a University-sponsored program or activity (such as travel, research, or internship programs) are considered to be on campus, as are all actions by a member of the University community that involve the use of the University’s computing and network resources from a remote location are considered to be on campus.  

While the University generally does not impose disciplinary penalties for misconduct off campus beyond the local vicinity or unassociated with a University-sponsored program or activity, there are exceptions (for example, where such misconduct may pose a safety risk on campus or may have a continuing adverse effect or create a hostile environment on campus).  Judgments about these matters will depend on facts of an individual case.  For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.2.

5. Are the Prospect Avenue Eating Clubs considered to be off-campus?

The Prospect Avenue Eating Clubs are deemed to be in the local vicinity, and, therefore, the University regulates student conduct at the Eating Clubs.  As stated in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 2.2.11:  “Standards of behavior by University students in the independent Prospect Avenue clubs are to conform with established standards in the University as a whole.  In particular, club members are to act with considerate regard for the rights, privileges, and sensibilities of others. It is expected that they will show due consideration for the property of their fellow members and guests, as well as for the property of the club itself.  Physical violence, intimidation of others, or offensive and disorderly behavior will not be tolerated in any club or on the walks and streets outside clubs.  It is also the immediate obligation of those in the presence of a severely intoxicated person to contact appropriate University or local medical or safety personnel (see section 2.2.9).  University policy in cases in which misconduct is alleged to have taken place in the clubs is governed by the provisions set forth concerning off-campus activities (see section 1.4.2).”  For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 2.2.11.

6. Can the University address the overall climate or environment within a Club?

The Eating Clubs are private, nonprofit corporations with their own governing bodies, funded and operated by students and alumni; they are independent from the University.  As such, the University does not operate or control the Eating Clubs.  The University does make available to the Eating Clubs a variety of services and programs, including trainings by the SHARE Office, Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration, and the Department of Public Safety.  If the University becomes aware of concerns regarding the possibility of a hostile environment in an Eating Club, the University will review those concerns them to the extent it is able, and will relay those concerns to the Club’s governing body. 

7. What if a respondent may have violated a University policy other than sex discrimination or sexual misconduct?

During the investigation, the panel may learn of other alleged misconduct by the respondent (or another person) that does not meet the definition of sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, or other prohibited conduct under section 1.3.3 of Rights, Rules, Responsibilities.  In such situations, the Title IX Coordinator, with the approval of the appropriate disciplinary authority (the dean of undergraduate students for undergraduate student respondents or the dean of the Graduate School for graduate student respondents), may direct an investigative panel to investigate and adjudicate such other possible violations.  The Title IX Coordinator and the other disciplinary authorities will determine the procedures to be followed on consideration of the nature of the alleged violation(s) and other relevant factors.  The standard of evidence applied to each violation will not be altered:  the preponderance of the evidence standard will be applied to violations of Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy and the clear and persuasive evidence standard will be applied to other disciplinary violations.

The University does not want community members to be deterred from reporting sex discrimination or sexual misconduct out of fear that they will expose themselves or their friends to disciplinary consequences for other misconduct (for example, that alcohol may have been made available to minors, or that a student may have damaged property).  In such cases, the panel will confer with the Title IX Coordinator.  Depending on relevant facts and circumstances, the Title IX Coordinator may forward evidence of other alleged misconduct to the appropriate disciplinary authority (for example, the Office of the dean of undergraduate students for undergraduate students; the Graduate School for graduate students) with the instruction that leniency should be exercised.  For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities sections 1.3.8 #2 and 1.3.10 #7.

8. What if a respondent is accused of multiple types of harassment or discrimination?

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and its subsidiary unit, the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration, responds to all allegations of discrimination and harassment, including sexual misconduct, and takes steps to ensure that each is handled according to applicable policies and legal requirements including Title IX, the ADA/Section 504, Title VI and Title VII.

In instances when a respondent is accused of engaging in multiple types of harassment or discrimination directed at a single complainant, either in the course of a single incident or a pattern of conduct, the alleged behaviors are investigated and adjudicated together (i.e., intersectionally). Allegations of hostile environment involving multiple types of discrimination and harassment (including sexual misconduct) are also investigated jointly. However, it is important to note that every circumstance is fact specific, and the applicable investigative framework may vary based on the nature of the alleged violations. For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.10 #7 and Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment.

It typically would not be appropriate for the University to use information about previous conduct violations in adjudicating (i.e., determining responsibility) a new matter. However, if the same respondent is found responsible for multiple disciplinary violations based on investigations/adjudications held at different times, those determining penalty would take the first policy violation into account in determining the subsequent penalty. 

9. What role does the principle of freedom of expression play in determining whether Sex Discrimination and/or Sexual Harassment have taken place?

Behavior that constitutes Sex Discrimination or Sexual Harassment under the policy is prohibited.  There may be other instances, however, in which individuals express disagreeable or offensive ideas or opinions that do not constitute Sex Discrimination or Sexual Harassment, but which are allowable under the principle of freedom of expression.  In responding to complaints, the University considers the circumstances and works to assess the balance between eliminating Sex Discrimination or Sexual Harassment while protecting freedom of expression.  

The University’s Statement on Freedom of Expression, which can be found in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.1.3, states: “Although the University greatly values civility, and all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.  The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish.  The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantive privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University.  In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University.”  For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.1.3.

10. If someone’s speech is deemed offensive or demeaning, but is not subject to discipline because it is protected as freedom of expression, does that mean the University can take no action?

No. The University may take a variety of actions apart from discipline. For example, the University may call the individual in for a meeting with the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration or a supervisor in order to explain the concern with the speech, expectations for campus interactions, and the impact the speech is having on others.  The University also may offer awareness programs and trainings to the campus community, in whole or in part.  The University may offer resources and support to those who have been impacted.

11. I believe that I have been harassed and/or discriminated against due to my gender identity. Does this process apply?

Yes.  Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, which includes gender identity or gender expression.  If you believe that you (or another undergraduate or graduate student) have been discriminated against or harassed due to your gender identity or gender expression, you are encouraged to report the matter to the University so that it can be pursued as a disciplinary case.  In addition, you are encouraged to seek support from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Center (which is a non-confidential resource) or the SHARE Office.  For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.3.

12. I believe that I have been harassed and/or discriminated against due to my sexual orientation. Does this process apply?

The Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy does not apply to matters involving harassment or discrimination due to sexual orientation.  However, the University prohibits such conduct under the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment and has numerous resources to support individuals who have had this experience.  The Inclusive Princeton website provides information regarding resources and options, and FAQS.  In addition, you are encouraged to seek support from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Center (which is a non-confidential resource).

If you feel that you experienced discrimination during a sexual misconduct process, as defined by the Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, you may contact Cheri Burgess, Director of Institutional Equity and EEO (clawson@princeton.edu).

13. What is the “expedited process”?

In certain cases involving student respondents, the Title IX Coordinator may offer the parties the option of participating in an expedited process.  This will only be offered to the parties in cases where, based on precedents and the respondent's prior disciplinary history, the penalty for the alleged violation will not interrupt the student's academic career.  Moreover, in order to enact this process, both parties must agree to the expedited process.  The expedited process is identical to the standard procedures described above in all respects, except for the following: 

  • The expedited process will utilize a two-person investigative panel.
  • If a student is found responsible for violating this policy, penalties will be determined by an associate dean of undergraduate students for an undergraduate respondent or by an associate dean of the Graduate School for a graduate student respondent.
  • Appeals in which the respondent is an undergraduate student will be reviewed by the dean of undergraduate students, and appeals in which the respondent is a graduate student will be reviewed by an associate dean of the Graduate School.

For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.12 #4.