Choosing an Adviser

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Title IX/Sexual Misconduct Advisers

Last updated August 2020

These FAQs are intended to provide responses to frequently asked questions related to the role of advisers in the Title IX Sexual Harassment process 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 section X(6) of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section IX(6) of the University Sexual Misconduct policy for specific information related to 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. 

1. What is the role of the Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser?

An adviser is someone who provides support and guidance to the complainant or respondent during an investigation and adjudication under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or the University Sexual Misconduct policy.  The adviser may be copied on correspondence between the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration and the complainant or respondent; however, the adviser may not act as a proxy for/on behalf of the complainant or respondent (that is, parties are expected to correspond directly with the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration, rather than their advisers doing so).  In addition, the adviser may attend any meeting, interview, or hearing connected with the disciplinary process; however, the adviser may not actively participate in meetings or interviews – e.g., the adviser may not answer questions posed to a party during an interview.  However, in Title IX Sexual Harassment cases, the adviser may conduct cross-examination of the other party and any witnesses; the adviser may not otherwise actively participate in the hearing.

2. Who can have a Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser?

Parties (the complainant and the respondent) who are involved in investigations and adjudications under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy may each have an adviser.  Witnesses are not entitled to advisers in the Title IX Sexual Harassment or University Sexual Misconduct process.

3. Who can serve as a Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser?

Parties may select advisers of their choosing.  This may include members of the University community as well as external individuals, including attorneys.

4. Does the University assign Title IX/Sexual Misconduct advisers to complainants and respondents?

No.  Parties are responsible for identifying and choosing an adviser for themselves, as well as reaching out to that adviser regarding their availability to serve as an adviser.

5. Can an attorney/lawyer serve as a Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser?

Yes.  Attorneys can serve as advisers for complainants and respondents who are involved in investigations/adjudications under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy or the University Sexual Misconduct process. 

6. If a party who is a current member of the University community would like to have an attorney as their Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser, will the University provide financial assistance to help them afford an attorney?

Yes.  If a party who is a current member of the University community seeks to engage an attorney to serve as their adviser, the University will provide certain financial resources to assist in that engagement.  [Additional details regarding this arrangement are forthcoming, at which time these FAQs will be supplemented]. 

7. Are there any other University disciplinary processes in which attorneys can be involved and in which the University will provide financial resources to hire an attorney?

No.  Attorneys are not permitted to serve as advisers in other University disciplinary proceedings. The University only provides the above-described financial resources to parties involved in investigations and adjudications under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy. 

8. Can a lawyer serve as an adviser in the informal resolution process?

No.  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, as well as additional information regarding the informal resolution process, see the Appendix to the Informal Resolution Process FAQs. 

9. What if a party chooses not to have a Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser?

Although it is recommended that parties have advisers, parties are not required to do so, other than with respect to the following exception:  federal regulations require that, in cases under the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy, if a party does not have an adviser present at the hearing to conduct cross-examination, the University will provide without fee or charge to that party an adviser selected by the University (who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney) to conduct cross-examination of the other party and/or any witnesses.

10. What are the University’s expectations for a Title IX/Sexual Misconduct adviser?

Any individual who serves as an adviser is expected to make themselves available for meetings and interviews throughout the investigation process, as well as the hearing, as scheduled by the University.  Advisers are expected to behave respectfully and appropriately and to abide by University policy.  The University has the right at all times to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of an adviser and to take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with University policy.

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