Alleged Victims of Sexual Misconduct in Disciplinary Hearings: Frequently Asked Questions
The following information is provided in an attempt to clarify information in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Disciplinary Procedures. Please be advised that the Disciplinary Procedures will be the controlling document and any apparent conflicting information will defer to those procedures and not the FAQs.
I am not sure what I want to do about this incident, if anything. Can I just talk to someone about my options without deciding to make a formal complaint?
Yes. A staff member in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution will listen to your concerns, answer questions about our process, and direct you to other agencies that can support and assist you. Reporting the incident to our office and discussing it does not mean that you must pursue a complaint in our process. We will respect your wishes while balancing our need to protect our University community.
If I file a complaint with the University, can I still file a complaint with the police?
Yes. The University's discipline process is not designed to be a substitute for criminal law in any way. Victims are encouraged to explore options for reporting the incident to local law enforcement, and the Office for Student Conflict Resolution can assist you in doing so. Nothing will prevent you from pursuing University, criminal, and civil remedies concurrently, individually, or not at all.
I am under 21 and I was drinking before this incident occurred. Will I get into trouble for violating the code?
Our primary concern is to investigate and address the charge of sexual misconduct. In very, very rare circumstances, the Office for Student Conflict Resolution will have such a great concern for the health and safety of the person who filed the complaint that we must take some corrective action. However, this will typically be handled by making informal referrals to offices and agencies which can help you. An alleged victim should not be concerned about any disciplinary action directed at them as a result of filing a complaint.
I still see the respondent in my residence hall and in class and feel uncomfortable. Can anything be done about that?
The Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights guarantees you certain rights in our process. At your request, we will take reasonable steps necessary to prevent unwanted contact between you and the accused student. For example, the University will assist you in finding a new place to stay if the accused student lives in the same residence hall. Also, if you attend a class with the accused student, we can assist you in changing sections, if possible, or making other arrangements to limit contact.
I have been told that I will be an "alleged victim"? What does that mean?
"Alleged Victim" is the term used to refer to the person who brought the complaint to the attention of the University. "Respondent" is the term applied to the student expected to answer to the complaint through the University discipline process. Our process is designed to be a balanced forum for determining the truth. The committee will gather all of the information it can from you, the respondent, and other people with knowledge of the incident in order to reach a fair decision.
I have already given statements to the police and hospital staff. Why do I need to give another one to the Office for Student Conflict Resolution?
Unfortunately, statements that you give to police officers and medical employees are protected by confidentiality and cannot readily be shared with our office. Also, our process may be seeking to answer different questions than the police asked you. In order to provide the committee with as much clear and specific information as possible, it will be important to get a written and signed statement from you as soon as possible. Also, if a rape examination was conducted by a physician, you will have access to your own medical records and should begin working to obtain a written summary of the results as soon as possible. Ideally, the treating physician would make written comments about his/her observations from your exam. This physician may also make a good witness for the hearing.
Do I have to participate in a hearing?
No. It is possible for the University to pursue disciplinary action without your participation in a hearing. However, it can make a finding the facts more difficult. It is very unlikely that a respondent would be dismissed from the University without a formal hearing in which the alleged victim participates unless the respondent admits the violation.
Who will be representing me at the hearing?
Unlike a criminal trial, participants in our informal administrative process are expected to represent themselves. This means that you will tell the committee the incident that occurred and then the committee and the accused will be able to ask you questions. You are not "on trial" and neither is the respondent. The hearing is designed to find the truth, and the committee members will need to ask thorough questions of everyone involved to be confident that they have all the information they need to make a decision.
Can someone sit along with me during the hearing to support me?
Yes. You are encouraged to bring an advisor to the hearing to serve as a source of support and to assist you in thinking of questions you would like to ask. Your advisor may be anyone you choose, including but not limited to another student, a faculty or staff member, a parent, or an attorney. Your advisor will not be allowed to speak directly to the committee nor is he/she allowed to ask questions for you. Your advisor is there solely to assist you. Information for advisors in our process is also available on this web site and you are encouraged to give it to him/her. If the advisor you have chosen is unavailable for the scheduled hearing time, the hearing will not be rescheduled and you are welcomed to choose another advisor. You are not required to have an advisor.
Who will be in the room for the hearing?
You will be ushered into the hearing room moments after the respondent at the beginning of the hearing. The committee members will already be seated in the room. A staff member from the Office for Student Conflict Resolution will remain in the room throughout the hearing. Witnesses will be brought in one at a time to give their statements and answer questions. Our hearings are not public and only those fulfilling specific roles will be allowed into the hearing room.
What is the format of the hearing?
While informal, the process is structured to assist the committee in gathering information in an organized way. First, the chairperson will read introductory comments and the committee members will introduce themselves to you. The Disciplinary Officer will then advise the committee of the investigation he/she conducted and review the information gathered. Next, the chair of the committee will ask the respondent to summarize the incident. The committee members will then ask follow-up questions. After the committee is finished, the chair will also ask if you have any questions for the respondent. The chair will then ask you to summarize the incident that occurred. Your statement should take 5-10 minutes, and then the committee will ask you questions to clarify your statements. The respondent will also be able to ask questions of you through the chairperson, which means he/she won't speak to you directly. Then, witnesses will be called into the room one at a time and will be questioned by the committee and both you and the respondent. After all witnesses have been heard, you will be given the opportunity to make a closing comment to the committee. These comments should be a summary of the information they have heard about the facts and what you want them to think about as they deliberate over the incident. The respondent will also be invited to make a closing comment to the committee. If the committee has no additional questions, you and the respondent will be escorted out of the hearing room as the committee deliberates.
What kinds of questions will I be asked?
In order to understand the incident and allegation, the committee will need to ask thorough questions about all aspects and details of the incident. They will also ask you questions about any discrepancies in your information and conflicts between your statements and other information or written statements. Please prepare yourself to speak frankly about all aspects of the encounter. The committee will be as sensitive to all parties as possible as they gather this important information.
Who serves on the Subcommittee?
The subcommittee consists of at least five people selected from a pool of faculty and students who were appointed by the Senate Committee on Student Discipline and trained by the Office for Student Conflict Resolution. Our procedures require at least one student and one faculty member on each committee. While a minimum of 5 members are required, the committees often consist of 7 to 9 members.
Will the respondent be in the room while I am giving testimony?
Yes. Our process guarantees that any student accused of a violation of the code will be allowed to hear all of the information that will be presented at the hearing. However, the room will be arranged so that you will not have to look at one another while you speak to the committee. Both of you will be on the same side of the table with committee members separating you. You will face the chairperson of the hearing committee, direct your statements to the chairperson, and ask questions of each other through the chairperson. Our office will be as sensitive to your needs as possible while still ensuring fairness to the respondent.
No one else saw this incident because we were alone. Won't this just be a case of "he said, she said"?
It is often the case in allegations of sexual misconduct that there were no witnesses to the incident other than the respondent and the alleged victim. However, the committee will ask both parties questions to assess the credibility of each person's version of the incident. Clearly, having an unbiased witness other than the two parties can be very helpful to the committee, but this is neither required nor necessary. The committee will be most interested in your honest responses to their questions. Ultimately, they will determine what the facts of the incident are. Your conversations with the staff in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution may help you to identify witnesses you have not yet considered.
Whom should I call as a witness?
The most valuable witnesses are those who actually saw what occurred. However, others may also be useful to corroborate your statements such as the first person you spoke with about what happened, people who had been with you immediately prior to or after the incident, or people who spoke to the respondent immediately following the incident. The University will call witnesses that we feel are important for the committee to hear from. You may also call additional witnesses. The University cannot compel any person to participate in the hearing. Be prepared to explain to a staff member in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution the nature of the statements that any witness you call will provide and how it is relevant. The chairperson of the hearing committee has the authority to reject witnesses who will offer irrelevant or redundant information. Character witnesses will only be allowed to present information in writing.
Can I know the outcome of the hearing?
A student's educational records, including discipline records, are required to be kept confidential by law. However, the law requires that individuals who file complaints of sexual misconduct be notified of the outcome of the University's actions with regard to the complaint, including whether or not the accused student was found responsible for a violation and what sanctions were imposed. You are asked to set an appointment with a staff member in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution to learn the outcome of the hearing. It is the practice of this office to share this information with you in the office rather than over the phone. The University neither encourages nor discourages victims from further re-disclosure of the outcomes of disciplinary hearings, but encourages victims to consult with legal counsel before doing so.
How should I prepare for the hearing? Should I write my statements down?
You should schedule a meeting with a staff member in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution to review any of the written information that will be used in the hearing. It is permissible for you to write out your summary of the incident as well as your closing comment and read these statements to the committee. Please keep these narratives detailed but brief. You should prepare for the hearing by reviewing your memory of the incident with your advisor or a trusted friend. The committee will appreciate your detailed and clear responses to their questions.
What should I say in my impact statement?
If the committee finds the respondent in violation of the Student Code, you will be invited back into the hearing room to make an impact statement. Your comments might include the impact, if any, this incident has had on your physical and emotional well-being, your academic or employment obligations, and your relationships with friends and family. After you statement is complete, the committee will excuse you. If you prefer, you may offer an impact statement in writing in lieu of appearing in person.
What kinds of sanctions might the committee assign the respondent?
A student found responsible for sexual misconduct may be permanently dismissed from the University or removed from the University and be ineligible to return for an established period of semesters or years. Other sanctions include but are not limited to removal from the residence halls, restrictions of access to certain areas of campus, required counseling, required research and reflective essays related to their inappropriate behavior, and/or a period of conduct probation.
What happens if the respondent appeals?
The respondent will be invited to appeal the decision and sanctions in writing to the Senate Committee on Student Discipline. This committee will schedule an appeal hearing to consider any changes to the decision or sanctions. You will be informed if the respondent appeals and the outcome. Alleged victims are not invited to participate in appeal hearings.
Can I appeal the decision?
Yes. The criteria for appeal are the same for the alleged victim and the respondent. All appeal requests should be routed to:
Executive Director of the Senate Committee on Student Discipline
300 Student Services Building
610 E. John Street
Champaign, IL 61820
An appeal must be a formal letter of appeal with your signature. Appeal requests are not accepted verbally or informally.
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