Informal Resolution Process

Individuals who feel that they have experienced sexual misconduct have many reporting options, including pursuing an internal complaint or filing a criminal complaint

However, some individuals may choose not to pursue formal reporting options.  This page provides information for individuals who, rather than pursuing a formal University disciplinary process, are interested in pursuing the informal resolution process. 

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Informal Resolution Process

Last updated July 2021

These FAQs are intended to provide responses to frequently asked questions related to the informal resolution process available under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct process.  However, the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy are the best sources of information regarding the process; see Appendix B to the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and Appendix B to the University Sexual Misconduct policy for specific information related to the informal resolution process.

1. What is the informal resolution process?

The informal resolution process is a voluntary, remedies-based process designed to provide members of the Princeton University community with an option to resolve disputes with other members of the Princeton University community in a forum that is separate and distinct from the University’s formal grievance processes under the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy or the University Sexual Misconduct Policy.

2. Is the informal resolution process voluntary?

Yes.  In order to proceed with the informal resolution process, all parties must consent in writing to do so.  No party will be required to participate in the informal resolution process and the University will not require, encourage, or discourage the parties from participating in the informal resolution process.

3. Is the informal resolution process available in every matter?

Subject to approval by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator, the informal resolution process may be available in Title IX Sexual Harassment or University Sexual Misconduct matters involving a student complainant and a student respondent as well as in matters involving a faculty/staff complainant and a faculty/staff respondent.  The informal resolution process is not available in matters involving a student and an employee.

4. Does the University have to approve the terms of the informal resolution agreement before it can be finalized?

Yes.  The Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator must agree that the matter is appropriate for the parties to engage in the informal resolution, and the Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator must approve the terms of the informal resolution agreement. If the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator determines at any time prior to the signing of the informal resolution agreement that the informal resolution process is no longer appropriate, the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator may terminate the process.

5. What factors will be considered by the University in determining whether the informal resolution process is appropriate?

In determining whether the informal resolution process is appropriate in a particular matter, the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator will consider the following factors:

  • The disciplinary record (or past conduct) of the respondent relating to sexual misconduct, physical violence, failure to comply with a No Contact Order, and/or other relevant conduct;
  • The nature of the alleged conduct, whether allegations involve multiple victims and/or a pattern of conduct, or other evidence-informed factors indicative of increased risk to campus safety;
  • Whether the circumstances warrant the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator filing a formal complaint (for example, if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with an investigation/adjudication even absent participation by the complainant);
  • Whether proceeding with the informal resolution process is in accordance with the principles and objectives of the University’s Title IX Sexual Harassment policy/University Sexual Misconduct policy, as determined by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator; and/or
  • Whether proceeding with the informal resolution process in matters involving faculty and staff members is in accordance with University employment practices.
6. Do respondents face discipline as a result of the informal resolution process? Can a respondent’s participation in the informal resolution process be considered in future disciplinary proceedings?

Under this process, there will be no disciplinary action taken against a respondent, and the resolution will not appear on the respondent’s disciplinary record. In addition, if a formal complaint is filed against the respondent in as subsequent matter under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or the University Sexual Misconduct policy, the respondent’s participation in a prior informal resolution process will not be considered relevant and will not be taken into account in the resolution of the subsequent complaint.

7. What are some possible outcomes of the informal resolution process?

Depending on the nature and circumstances of the particular situation, parties may agree to outcomes such as:

  • Long-term extension of a mutual No Contact Order or No Communication Order;
  • Imposition of a “skewed” No Contact Order (which places the burden on the respondent to limit the respondent’s physical proximity to the complainant);
  • Restrictions on the respondent from participation in particular organizations or events;
  • Moving the respondent’s on-campus housing, subject to availability;
  • Participation by the respondent in the University-provided Community Integrity Program (CIP), a time-limited, individualized psychoeducational curriculum administered by a licensed clinician that serves to assist individuals in exploring harmful attitudes and behaviors, with an aim to empower individuals to actively contribute to a healthier and safer campus community;
  • Participation by the respondent in the University-provided alcohol education program (BASICS) designed to reduce the harmful problems associated with alcohol misuse;
  • Provision to the respondent of an “impact statement” written by the complainant (describing the impact(s) that the respondent’s conduct had on the complainant);
  • Conversation between the parties facilitated by a trained individual appointed by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator;
  • Other measures deemed appropriate by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator.
8. If a complainant is interested in pursuing the informal resolution process, what steps should they take?

The first step would be to contact the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration (ptitleix@princeton.edu) to learn more about potential options.  If a complainant chose to proceed, they would be required to file a formal complaint (more information about formal complaints is available in section II of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section II of the University Sexual Misconduct policy), after which the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator will conduct an initial assessment.  If the initial assessment (see section IV of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section IV of the University Sexual Misconduct policy) indicates that the alleged conduct, if substantiated, would constitute Title IX Sexual Harassment or University Sexual Misconduct, the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the informal resolution process is appropriate for the matter and will notify the complainant.

9. What happens if a party starts to participate in the informal resolution process but changes their mind and decides not to proceed with an informal resolution agreement?

At any time prior to signing an informal resolution agreement, any party has the right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the formal grievance process.

10. Once a party has signed an informal resolution agreement, can they change their mind and participate in a formal grievance process instead?

No.  Once the parties have signed the informal resolution agreement, they are bound by its terms and cannot opt for a formal grievance process based on the conduct that was alleged in the formal complaint.

11. If a party is already participating in a formal grievance process under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or the University Sexual Misconduct policy, can they switch to the informal resolution process?

Even if the formal grievance process has already begun, at the discretion of the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator, the University may facilitate the informal resolution process prior to concluding a hearing.  If both parties agree to participate in the informal resolution process and the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator approves of the informal resolution process, the formal grievance process will be adjourned while the informal resolution process is pending; if an agreement is not reached, the formal grievance process will be resumed.

12. Under those circumstances (see FAQ 11), can the information gathered during the informal resolution process be used in the formal grievance process?

Yes, information gathered in the informal resolution process may be taken into account in the Title IX Sexual Harassment or University Sexual Misconduct formal grievance processes if the informal resolution process ends prior to a written agreement being signed by the parties, provided the information is relevant to the allegations in the formal complaint.  However, the University will not draw any adverse inference against a party based on a party’s participation in the informal resolution process.

13. Does the Leniency/Amnesty policy apply to the informal resolution process?

Yes.  The Leniency/Amnesty policy described in section VI(4) of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section VI(4) of the University Sexual Misconduct policy applies to the informal resolution process.  However, even if the parties enter into a written informal resolution agreement, if information related to the violation of other University policies (i.e., policies other than the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or the University Sexual Misconduct policy) comes to light through the informal resolution process, such information may be used in other University disciplinary processes in situations where the Leniency/Amnesty policy did not apply.

14. If a party signed an informal resolution agreement but their circumstances have now changed, can the agreement be modified?

If the parties’ circumstances change significantly, they may request a supplemental agreement and the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator will determine whether it is appropriate to proceed.  For example, if both parties joined the same eating club subsequent to signing the agreement or participated in the same study abroad program, either party could request a supplemental agreement to address the changed circumstances, provided that both parties agreed to any such revisions.

15. Can parties be accompanied by a Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser and/or an attorney for meetings regarding the informal resolution process?

No, parties cannot be accompanied by a Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser and/or attorney for the informal resolution process.  However, complainants and respondents may be accompanied to any meeting related to the informal resolution process by a support person, who must be a member of the University community (e.g., a current student, faculty, or staff member).  Certain administrators, including residential college staff and Graduate School administrators, receive training related to providing support during the informal resolution process.  For a list of administrators who have received such training, see below.  Please note that the University support person may not actively participate in meetings and may not serve as a proxy for the party (that, is, parties are expected to correspondent directly with the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration, rather than their University support person doing so).  Any individual who serves as a University support person is expected to make themselves available for meetings as scheduled by the University.

16. Who will facilitate the informal resolution process?

A trained informal resolution facilitator from the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration will facilitate the process.  The facilitator will consult (separately) with each party in an effort to reach a resolution that best meets the interests and needs of the parties.

17. Do parties have to meet with one another as part of the informal resolution process?

Unless the parties mutually choose to do so as part of an agreement, the parties will not meet together in person as part of the informal resolution process.

18. What happens if a party fails to comply with an informal resolution agreement that they signed?

Failure to comply with the signed agreement may result in disciplinary action for either party, consistent with the disciplinary procedures described in section 2.5 of Rights, Rules, Responsibilities (for students) or in applicable policy manuals (for faculty and staff members).

19. Do the University’s protections against Retaliation apply to the informal resolution process?

Yes.  The protections against Retaliation described in section III of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section III of the University Sexual Misconduct policy apply to individuals participating in the informal resolution process, and disciplinary consequences may result for those found responsible for Retaliation. 

20. How long does the informal resolution process typically take?

The time frame for completion of the informal resolution process may vary, but the University will seek to complete the informal resolution process within thirty (30) business days of completion of the initial assessment.  Should the time period extend beyond this time frame, the parties will be notified.

21. If a party chooses to pursue the informal resolution process rather than a formal disciplinary process, can they still obtain supportive measures?

Yes.  Even if a party chooses not to pursue a formal disciplinary process, they are still able to access supportive measures. These may include:

  • counseling;
  • extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments;
  • modifications of work or class schedules;
  • campus escort services;
  • mutual restrictions on contact between the parties;
  • changes in work or housing locations;
  • leaves of absence; or
  • increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus.

The Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration is available to discuss these resources and supportive measures, even if an individual chooses not to proceed with a formal disciplinary process.  For more information, please contact the Director of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration Regan Crotty at ptitleix@princeton.edu.

22. Is the informal resolution process the same as a restorative justice process?

The informal resolution process is not a restorative justice process.  Restorative justice processes typically require the respondent to acknowledge and accept responsibility for an offense; the informal resolution process does not require respondents to do so.  However, there are aspects of the restorative justice process embedded in the informal resolution process, including participation by both parties in the process and joint efforts to find appropriate ways for the parties to pursue their academic and non-academic interests in a safe, respectful, and productive educational and working environment.

23. Is the informal resolution process the same as mediation?

The informal resolution process is similar to mediation in that the process utilizes a trained impartial facilitator to assist the parties in reaching a mutual, voluntary agreement.  While the informal resolution process does not contemplate the parties meeting with one another in order to reach an agreement, as part of their informal resolution agreement, the parties may agree to participate in a mediated conversation with one another that is facilitated by a trained individual.

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  • Kristina Gonzalez

    Khristina Gonzalez
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  • Judy Jarvis

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