If a report is received alleging that a student has engaged in conduct that may violate the UW-Madison Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence (which incorporates Chapter UWS 17), the information will be reported to the Title IX Program within the Office of Compliance. A staff member within the Title IX Program will be assigned as a neutral, third-party investigator.
Receipt of initial report and contact with complainant:
In most cases, the investigator will start by contacting the complainant to discuss the possibility of a formal investigation. If the complainant agrees to participate in a university investigation, the complainant will meet with the assigned investigator to provide a statement or participate in an interview. The complainant may be accompanied by an advisor of their choosing to any meetings with the Title IX Program. The complainant will also be asked to provide any documentary evidence (text messages, social media posts, etc.) the complainant wants to be considered during the investigation and to identify any people who might provide information to support the complainant’s statement.
*There are rare occasions in which the university will proceed with an investigation without the participation of a complainant. This decision will be based on a variety of factors, including an assessment of a perceived ongoing risk to the campus community absent an investigation.
Notice and investigation:
Once the complainant interview is complete, the investigator will send a Notice of Investigation to the respondent that describes the alleged misconduct and invites the respondent to meet with the investigator to respond to the allegations. The respondent may be accompanied by a support person of their choosing at the meeting. The respondent will also be asked to provide any documentary evidence (text messages, social media posts, etc.) the respondent wants to be considered during the investigation and to identify any people who might provide information to support the respondent’s statement.
The investigator will also interview relevant witnesses and/or review relevant witness statements, if any, and review any documentary evidence provided by the complainant, the respondent or other sources, including witnesses.
Report and determination of responsibility:
Once this investigation is complete, the investigator will prepare a report outlining the information gathered during the investigation. Both the complainant and the respondent are afforded an opportunity to review the Initial Investigative Report for accuracy and provide feedback before the Final Investigative Report is submitted to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS). The staff member in the OSCCS assigned to the case will review the information in the report to determine whether any violation of the campus policy occurred.
The standard of proof required in cases alleging sexual harassment and sexual violence is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Under this standard, it must be more likely true than not true that the alleged misconduct occurred for the respondent to be held responsible and potentially face disciplinary action. The OSCCS staff member consults with at least two other OSCCS staff members in making this determination.
Once a decision has been reached, the OSCCS staff member sends Decision Letter to both the complainant and the respondent outlining the findings and, where applicable, the recommended sanction(s).
If respondent is found not responsible:
If the OSCCS staff member determines the student respondent is not responsible for the alleged misconduct by a preponderance of the evidence the complainant may appeal the determination to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs (as the Chancellor’s designee). The appeal must be made, in writing, within fourteen days of receiving written notification of the determination. Upon receiving an appeal from the complainant, the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs (VCSA) will notify the student respondent.
The VCSA shall issue a written decision to the parties within thirty days. The decision shall be based upon the record gathered during the investigation. The decision of the OSCCS staff member will be upheld unless the VCSA finds:
- The information in the record does not support the findings or decision;
- Appropriate procedures were not followed which resulted in material prejudice to the student respondent or complainant; or
- The decision was based on factors proscribed by state or federal law.
The VCSA’s written decision will be simultaneously sent to the complainant and the respondent. If the original determination is reversed, the VCSA may 1) send the case back for further investigation, 2) send the case back for hearing, or 3) order other appropriate relief consistent with those listed in Chapter UWS 17.10.
If the OSCCS determination is upheld, the complainant may then appeal to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. The Board of Regents, in its discretion, may consider an appeal based on the written record. The appeal must be made in writing within fourteen days of receiving the written decision from the chancellor.
If respondent is found responsible:
If the OSCCS staff member determines that the preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that misconduct occurred, the respondent has the right to a formal hearing to 1) contest the determination that the respondent engaged in misconduct, 2) contest the disciplinary action recommended, or 3) both (see Hearing Stage below).