Information for Witnesses

These FAQs are intended to provide information for students, faculty, and staff members who are contacted by the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration to be interviewed as “witnesses” in Title IX investigations.

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1. Why am I being called for an interview?

You are likely being called for an interview because a party (complainant or respondent) or another witness identified you as someone who may have relevant information regarding allegations being investigated by the University. Even if you did not witness a particular interaction, you may have information that is relevant to the investigation.

2. Can I decline to attend the interview?

No. Students are expected to cooperate fully in the disciplinary process, and any student (whether a party or a witness) who refuses to cooperate may be subject to discipline. Failing to respond to multiple attempts by an administrator to contact or meet a student may be considered a refusal to cooperate. See Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.1.5.

3. May I bring an adviser to the interview?

No. While parties (the complainant and the respondent) may each have a Title IX adviser, witnesses are not entitled to advisers in the Title IX process parties. However, even though you are not permitted to have an adviser accompany you to your interview, we understand that serving as a witness can be a stressful experience, and we encourage you to seek support from Confidential Resources.

4. May I record the interview?

The University does not record these interviews and we request that parties and witnesses do not do so either.

5. What should I expect during the interview?

You may be interviewed by a single investigator or a panel of investigators. The interviewer(s) will take notes during your interview; at the end of your interview, the interviewer(s) will read the notes back to you, at which time you can make adjustments to the interview notes if appropriate.

It is important that the investigators obtain all possible relevant information from witnesses. Therefore, witnesses may anticipate that they will be asked detailed questions which may relate to very personal and sensitive matters. The investigators are trained to do so in a sensitive and respectful manner, but we recognize that such questioning can be difficult to experience. In addition, investigators may ask questions related to alcohol and drug use in order to ascertain parties’ and witnesses’ levels of intoxication, which may impact the reliability of their memories. The panel recognizes that for a variety of reasons (e.g., the length of time since the incident, the use of alcohol or other drugs, or trauma), witnesses may not clearly recall every aspect of an incident. However, it is important for interviewees to be honest with the panel regarding what they recall clearly, what they recall to some extent, and what they do not recall.

Interviewees make take breaks at any time; however, we ask that they answer any pending questions before doing so.

6. What types of evidence might I be asked to provide?

Investigators will ask witnesses to provide specific evidence if the investigators determine that such evidence may be relevant to the investigation. The most common types of evidence submitted by witnesses in these cases include: messages (texts, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.), emails, letters, diary/journal entries, medical records, photographs, and videos.

7. What happens with the information that I provide?

In cases involving students, both the complainant and the respondent will receive a written summary of your interview. In cases involving an employee complainant and an employee respondent, both the complainant and the respondent will receive a summary of your interview.

As a witness, you will not receive a written summary of your interview.

8. Can I remain anonymous?

If a witness asks to remain anonymous during the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will consider how to proceed. The Title IX Coordinator will take into account the witness’s articulated concerns; the best interests of the University community; fair treatment of all individuals involved; and the University’s obligations under Title IX.

9. Does the University provide amnesty regarding other types of violations (for example, drug use or underage alcohol use)?

In order to encourage reports of conduct that is prohibited under the Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, the University may offer leniency with respect to other violations which may come to light as a result of such reports, depending on the circumstances involved. For more information, see Rights, Rules, Responsibilities section 1.3.8.

10. Will I be notified regarding the outcome of the investigation?

No. As a witness, you will not be notified regarding the outcome of the investigation.

11. Can I discuss my interview with others?

Individuals involved in investigations are encouraged to exercise discretion in sharing information in order to safeguard the integrity of the process and to avoid the appearance of retaliation.

12. What if I am worried about retaliation?

Retaliation against an individual or group of individuals involved in filing a complaint or report or participating in a disciplinary process (as a complainant or a witness) is prohibited. Retaliatory behavior is subject to investigation and if substantiated, will result in discipline proportionate to the conduct. Witnesses are encouraged to share any concerns related to retaliation (both throughout and following the investigation) to the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration.

13. What if I have a disability?

If a witness is interested in information regarding resources that may be available to them related to a disability, they should contact Elizabeth Erickson, Director of Disability Services (eerickso@princeton.edu).

14. What if I have questions or concerns about the process?

If you have questions or concerns about the process, please contact the Director of Gender Equity, Regan Crotty (rehunt@princeton.edu).