Hearings

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Pre-Hearing Meeting/Hearing under the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and the University Sexual Misconduct Policy

Last updated September 2021

These FAQs are intended to provide responses to frequently asked questions related to the pre-hearing meeting and hearing.  However, the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy are the best sources of information regarding the process; see section XI(3) and section X(3) (respectively) for specific information related to hearings. 

1. What occurs at a pre-hearing meeting?

At the Presiding Hearing Panelist’s discretion, pre-hearing meetings may be scheduled (at least one week prior to the hearing) with each of the parties and their advisers (as well as the Presiding Hearing Panelist and the Director of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration or their designee) to explain the hearing protocol.  

Prior to the pre-hearing meeting (or by the date specified, if no pre-hearing meeting will be held), at the discretion of the Presiding Hearing Panelist, the parties may be asked to submit a list of proposed witnesses to be called at the hearing, as well as a brief written explanation of the information each witness would be asked to provide.  In addition, the parties may be asked to submit proposed areas of questioning for cross examination (as described in FAQ 8 below for Title IX Sexual Harassment cases and FAQ 10 below for University Sexual Misconduct cases).  The parties’ advisers will also be permitted to pose or submit (as appropriate) additional questions (not submitted in advance) during the hearing to the other party and/or witnesses.

Prior to the hearing, the parties and their advisers will be notified regarding which witnesses the Presiding Hearing Panelist has deemed relevant to appear at the hearing.

2. Who is on the Hearing Panel?

The Hearing Panel will consist of three members, as determined by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator:  two University administrators and a Presiding Hearing Panelist (a former judge; additional information about the current pool of Presiding Hearing Panelists is available here).  All three Hearing Panelists may ask questions of the parties and witnesses, and all three panelists will deliberate.  However, the Presiding Hearing Panelist will be responsible for determining whether a respondent is responsible or not responsible for violating University policy; the two University administrators will not vote regarding responsibility.

3. Will everyone be in the same room during the hearing?

The Presiding Hearing Panelist may determine, or parties may request, that the hearing occur with the parties (and their advisers) located in separate locations with technology enabling the Hearing Panel and the parties to simultaneously see and hear the party or witnesses answering questions.  Witnesses typically will be located in separate locations with technology enabling the Hearing Panel and the parties to simultaneously see and hear the witnesses answering questions.

4. Who can attend/participate in the hearing?

The Hearing Panel, the parties, and their advisers are expected to attend/participate in the hearing (whether in person or virtually, as determined by the Presiding Hearing Panelist).  The Hearing Panel may also call specific witnesses to attend/participate in certain parts of the hearing.  In addition, other University administrators (including, but not limited to members of the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration and/or residential college staff members/members of the Graduate School staff who may provide additional support to parties) may attend the hearing at the request of or with the prior approval of the Presiding Hearing Panelist; the parties will be notified in advance of anyone else who will be in attendance.  Other individuals may not attend the hearing and/or (in the case of virtual hearings) may not be in the room with parties or witnesses.

5. What will occur at the live hearing?

The hearing is not intended to be a repeat of the investigation.  Hearing protocol (including the order of questioning) will be determined by the Presiding Hearing Panelist.  Typically, a hearing will include opening remarks by the Presiding Hearing Panelist and questioning of the parties and witnesses by the Hearing Panel and advisers (including cross-examination (see FAQs 8 and 10)).  

The Presiding Hearing Panelist will provide the parties the opportunity to present a closing statement.  In advance of the hearing, the Presiding Hearing Panelist will determine, in their sole discretion, whether to have the parties present their closing statement orally (to be presented by the parties’ advisers, not to exceed 10 minutes) or in writing (to be submitted within three business days of the conclusion of the hearing, not to exceed 2500 words).  If the Presiding Hearing Panelist requests written statements, redacted copies of the statements will be provided to both parties, but the parties will not have an opportunity to respond to them. 

If a hearing extends beyond eight hours in a single day, it will be adjourned to the following business day.

6. What measures will be taken to ensure that the hearing is orderly, fair, and respectful?

The Presiding Hearing Panelist (a retired judge) will have broad authority to respond to disruptive or harassing behaviors, including adjourning the hearing or excluding the offending individual, including a party, witness, or adviser.

7. If I am a party, am I required to watch/listen to the other party/witnesses while they are answering questions posed by the Hearing Panel?

No, parties are not required to watch and/or listen to the other party or witnesses while the other party/witnesses are answering questions posed by the Hearing Panel.  Even if a party chooses not to watch/listen to questioning by the Hearing Panel, their adviser will still be required to do so.

8. How does cross examination work in Title IX Sexual Harassment cases?

As described in FAQ 1, prior to the pre-hearing meeting (or by the date specified, if no pre-hearing meeting will be held), parties will be required to submit a list of proposed witnesses to be called at the hearing, as well as proposed questions to be posed during cross examination.  However, the parties’ advisers will also be permitted to pose additional questions (not submitted in advance) to the other party and/or witnesses, pursuant to the process described below.

After the Hearing Panel has asked questions (if any) of the parties and witnesses, the parties’ advisers will have the opportunity to ask relevant questions of (cross examine) the other party (and witnesses, if any).  Such cross examination must be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by the party’s adviser and never by a party personally.  Only relevant cross examination questions, as determined by the Presiding Hearing Panelist, may be asked of a party or witness.

All questions must be posed in an appropriately professional and respectful manner, and the Presiding Hearing Panelist will actively monitor such questioning.

9. In a Title IX Sexual Harassment case, what happens if a party or witness declines to attend the hearing or refuses to be cross-examined?

In a Title IX Sexual Harassment case, if a party or witness informs the University that they will not attend the hearing (or will refuse to be cross-examined), the hearing may proceed, as determined by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator.  The Hearing Panel may not, however: (a) rely on any statement or information provided by that non-participating individual in reaching a determination regarding responsibility; or (b) draw any adverse inference in reaching a determination regarding responsibility based solely on the individual’s absence from the hearing (or their refusal to be cross-examined).

10. How does cross examination work in University Sexual Misconduct cases?

As described in FAQ 1, prior to the pre-hearing meeting (or by the date specified, if no pre-hearing meeting will be held), parties may request that certain witnesses be called at the hearing, as well as be required to propose questions to be posed during cross examination.  However, the parties’ advisers will also be permitted to pose additional written questions (not submitted in advance) to the other party and/or witnesses, pursuant to the process described below.

After the Hearing Panel has asked questions (if any) of the parties and witnesses, the parties will have the opportunity to cross examine the other party (and relevant witnesses, if any) by submitting written cross examination questions to the Presiding Panelist for consideration.  Only relevant cross examination questions, as determined by the Presiding Hearing Panelist, may be asked of a party or witness.  

11. In a University Sexual Misconduct case, what happens if a party or witness declines to attend the hearing?

In a University Sexual Misconduct case, if a party or witness informs the University that they will not attend the hearing, the hearing may proceed, as determined by the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator. The Hearing Panel may still rely on any statement or information provided by that non-participating individual in reaching a determination regarding responsibility.

However, while witnesses are not required to participate in live cross examination, they are strongly encouraged to do so, as full participation by all relevant witnesses helps to ensure that the Presiding Hearing Panelist makes their decision based on all relevant information. 

12. If I am a party, will I know in advance which witnesses will be participating in the hearing?

In Title IX Sexual Harassment cases, in advance of the hearing, parties will be required to identify witnesses to be called at the hearing, as well as to provide a brief written explanation of the information each witness would be asked to provide, such that the Presiding Hearing Panelist can determine their relevance.  The Presiding Hearing Panelist has the discretion to exclude from the hearing evidence/witnesses/questions deemed irrelevant.  Following this determination, in advance of the hearing, both parties will be notified in writing regarding which witnesses will be participating in the hearing.

In University Sexual Misconduct cases, in advance of the hearing, parties will be given the opportunity to request that certain witnesses be called at the hearing.  The Presiding Hearing Panelist has the discretion to exclude from the hearing evidence/witnesses/questions deemed irrelevant.  Following this determination, in advance of the hearing, both parties will be notified in writing regarding which witnesses will be participating in the hearing.

13. Will the hearing be recorded?

The University shall create an official record in the form of a recording or transcript of any live (or remote) hearing and make it available to the parties for inspection and review.  Any other record of the hearing or any other recording is prohibited and violations may result in discipline.

14. How will parties be notified of the outcome of the case, following the hearing?

Following the hearing, the Hearing Panel will consider all of the relevant evidence and deliberate regarding responsibility.  The Presiding Hearing Panelist shall make a determination, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the respondent has violated the policy.  The Presiding Hearing Panelist shall write a written determination, which will contain: (1) the allegations potentially constituting Title IX sexual harassment/University Sexual Misconduct; (2) a description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination (including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits (if any), methods used to gather other information, and the hearing); (3) findings of fact supporting the determination; (4) conclusions regarding the application of this policy to the facts; (5) a statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility (i.e., whether a policy violation occurred), any disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Sanction Officer if there has been a finding of responsibility (additional information regarding Sanctions is available on the Sexual Misconduct Investigations website), and whether any remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the University’s education program or activity or working environment will be implemented; and (6) relevant appeal information for the parties.  The parties and their advisers will simultaneously be provided with the written determination via electronic format.  This notification will likely occur several weeks after the hearing; both parties and their advisers will be notified in advance precisely when to expect to receive the written determination.

15. Are there circumstances in which a live hearing will not be conducted?

Live hearings will be conducted in cases involving students and in cases involving faculty members except under the following circumstances:  in cases under the University Sexual Misconduct policy involving a party who is not a current member of the University community (e.g., an alum, a visitor), a hearing may occur without assembling all of the parties together at the same time.  In addition, in cases under the University Sexual Misconduct policy involving a staff member (a non-faculty University employee) Complainant and a staff member (a non-faculty University employee) Respondent, a hearing may occur without assembling all of the parties together at the same time.