Appeal Process

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Appeals under the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and the University Sexual Misconduct Policy

Last updated July 2021

These FAQs are intended to provide responses to frequently asked questions related to the appeal process.  However, the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy are the best sources of information regarding the process; see section XII and section XI (respectively) for specific information related to appeals. 

1. Who can appeal the decision in cases under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy?

Both the complainant and respondent are entitled to participate equally in the appeal process.  

2. At what points in the process can a party appeal?

Parties can appeal upon receiving the written determination regarding responsibility and, when applicable, sanction and remedies.

 
3. How long does a party have to appeal and how does a party initiate an appeal?

When the parties are notified of the case outcome, they will receive specific information regarding the appeal process, including who to contact to initiate an appeal, deadlines, etc. 

Appeals must be submitted in writing (via email) within five (5) business days of receiving the written determination and should be submitted to Christine Gage, the associate secretary of the University (cgage@princeton.edu).  Parties interested in appealing are encouraged to consult with Ms. Gage as soon as they are aware that they may appeal.  Ms. Gage will coordinate the appeal process, and all communications regarding the appeal should be directed to Ms. Gage. 

4. If I am appealing, what types of information or documents should I submit?

If you are appealing, you should submit (via email) to Ms. Gage a written statement, not to exceed 2500 words, outlining the basis for appeal and the relevant information to substantiate the appeal.  The Appeal Panel will have access to all of the case records (the case file and any responses, investigative report and any responses, the hearing record, the written determination, and any written appeal(s) or statements by the parties), so you do not need to re-submit case documents.

5. What if I am not appealing and the other party is appealing?

If the other party submits an appeal, you will be provided with a copy of their written statement.  You may submit a written response, not to exceed 2500 words, to Ms. Gage within five (5) business days of receipt of the appealing party’s written statement.  Your statement will be provided to the appealing party.

6. Who hears appeals?

Appeals are heard by the Appeal Panel.  The Appeal Panel consists of the Appeal Chair (who will be external, e.g., a former judge or an attorney) and two University administrators or faculty members.

For more information, see section XII of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section XI of the University Sexual Misconduct policy.

7. What if a party believes that someone involved in the appeal process has a conflict of interest?

All University officials who have responsibilities in administering the Title IX Sexual Harassment process or the University Sexual Harassment process must be free of any conflict of interest. If a party believes that a member of the Appeal Panel has a conflict of interest, the party must report those concerns to the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator (Vice Provost Michele Minter, mminter@princeton.edu) via email within 48 hours of being notified of the identities of the Appeal Panel members and include a brief explanation of the basis for the conflict or bias concern.  Vice Provost Minter will assess the allegations of conflict to determine whether or not the identified individual(s) can fulfill their duties in an impartial way.  If Vice Provost Minter concludes that the facts and circumstances support the claim of conflict, the pertinent individual(s) will not participate in the case.

8. What are the grounds for appeals?

The four grounds for appeal are as follows: 

  1. Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
  2. New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter;
  3. The University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator or their staff, investigator(s), any member of the Hearing Panel, or Sanction Officer had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter; and/or
  4. The sanctions (or recommended sanctions) are not commensurate with the violation.
9. What are possible outcomes from an appeal?

There are five possible outcomes from an appeal:

  1. If the Appeal Panel finds that the earlier decision should stand, the parties will be informed and the Title IX process is concluded.
  2. If the Appeal Panel finds that there was procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter, the matter will be remanded (sent back) to the Presiding Hearing Panelist to determine appropriate further action.
  3. If the Appeal Panel finds that new evidence is available that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility was made, and such evidence could alter the outcome of the matter, the matter will be remanded (sent back) to the Presiding Hearing Panelist for appropriate further action. 
  4. If the Appeal Panel finds that the University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator or their staff, investigator(s), member of the Hearing Panel, or Sanction Officer had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter, the Appeal Panel will take appropriate measures to address and remediate the impact of the bias or conflict.
  5. If the Appeal Panel finds that the sanctions (or recommended sanctions) are not commensurate with the violation, the matter will be remanded to the Sanction Officer for reconsideration.
10. Regarding the first ground (procedural irregularity), what types of situations would apply?

This appeal ground is intended for situations in which there was procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter.  For example, such grounds could include (but are not limited to) an allegation that the parties were not provided with equal access to the case materials or a party was not informed that they could be supported by an adviser of choice.

11. Regarding the second ground (new evidence), what types of information would qualify?

This appeal ground is intended for situations in which evidence was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility was made.  This ground is not intended for situations in which a party had access to evidence but chose not to present it at that time.  Moreover, the new evidence must be evidence that, if substantiated, could affect the outcome of the matter. 

12. Regarding the third ground (conflict of interest or bias), what types of situations would apply?

This appeal ground is intended for situations in which an individual directly involved in investigating, adjudicating, or overseeing the investigation/adjudication had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.  For example, such grounds could include (but are not limited to) a situation in which one of these individuals had a close personal relationship with one of the parties.  This ground is not intended for situations in which one of these individuals merely knows or has professionally interacted with one of the parties.

13. Regarding the fourth ground (sanction), how can I determine whether the imposed sanction was not commensurate with the violation?

For confidentiality reasons, detailed information regarding past cases cannot be shared.  Although each case is unique, the University’s Information regarding Penalties in Sexual Misconduct Cases and the annual Sexual Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct disciplinary reports provide general information regarding outcomes for prior cases. 

If a party wishes to appeal on this ground, they should notify Ms. Gage that they feel that the imposed sanction was not commensurate with the violation and the Appeal Panel will review past precedents, for which they have detailed records.

14. If a party appeals, will the Appeal Panel re-hear the entire case?

No.  An appeal is limited in scope.  The purpose of an appeal is not to initiate a review of substantive issues of fact or a new determination of whether a violation of University rules has occurred.

The Appeal Panel generally will not meet with the parties and will not consider issues outside of the appeal grounds stated by the appealing party.

15. How long will the appeal process take?

The Appeal Panel will seek to complete the appeal review within twenty (20) business days of receipt of the appealing party’s written statement.

16. How can a party provide feedback regarding the Title IX process?

The Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration is committed to handling investigations related to sexual misconduct in a manner that is fair, equitable, and respectful.  Parties who have specific concerns relating to the investigation/adjudication in which they have been involved should raise such concerns through the Appeal process, as described above. 

If you wish to provide general comments or suggestions regarding the process, you may contact University Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Coordinator Michele Minter (mminter@princeton.edu) or University Provost Deborah Prentice (predebb@princeton.edu) in writing.  In addition, individuals may opt to share comments or suggestions regarding the process with the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources and Education (SHARE) Office, as SHARE staff can assist individuals in advocating for systemic change.

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).