Learn about Title IX complaint procedures.
How to Report a Title XI Complaint
Belhaven University has a Christian identity and mission, and views itself as protected by the religious school’s exemption provided by Title IX from any government policies or interpretations that interfere or violate its religious beliefs and identity. This includes the University’s standards regarding sexuality and gender, as more fully described in the University’s Statements of Faith and Mission, as well as described in the various behavioral standards for faculty, staff and students. Those with questions regarding this exemption and its reach should contact the office of the Provost.
Any student at Belhaven University who believes that she or he has been discriminated against on the basis of their sex or believes they have witnessed discrimination based on sex by University students, faculty or staff is encouraged to promptly take the following actions:
Submit a complaint of the alleged discriminatory conduct to the Title IX Coordinator.
The Complaint should provide the following information:
- The name and telephone number, if available, of the complainant and respondent;
- Specific acts alleged, including dates, times and locations;
- Names of any potential witnesses, including addresses and telephone numbers, if available; and
- Actions taken by any party to address the discrimination, if any.
The following procedure will govern all investigations of formal complaints alleging violations of the policy, with the exception of sexual harassment complaints. The University reserves the right to deviate from these procedures only when such deviation is necessary to ensure appropriate processing of the investigation.
- The investigation will begin as soon as possible; not to exceed ten (10) work days of receipt of the complaint.
- The Title IX Coordinator will investigate allegations of violations of this policy unless another University official is designated. The Title IX Coordinator may request assistance from other trained and qualified employees.
- The investigation shall include interviewing the complainant and the respondent as well as any relevant witnesses suggested by the complainant and the respondent. The investigation also shall include reviewing any documents deemed relevant by either party.
- Confidentiality of the investigation will be maintained to the extent possible.
If witnesses cannot be reached or are unavailable, the complaint will be investigated in their absence.
- Determine whether a violation of this policy has occurred, and if so, the appropriate response.
- Notify the complainant and the respondent in writing of the outcome of the investigation writing ten (10) working days after the completion of the investigation.
- Make recommendations to the appropriate supervisor/Title IX Coordinator regarding discipline, if warranted.
- Partner with departments, programs and deans to take corrective action as may be appropriate under the circumstances.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:
- Quid pro quo harassment by a University employee;
- Any unwelcome conduct (verbal or physical) that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access; and
- Any instance of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking. “Sexual assault” is defined as forcing, threatening, or coercing an individual into sexual contact against the individual’s free will with or without the individual’s consent. In includes, but is not limited to, any sexual act performed on an individual or any sexual act required to be performed by an individual against that individual’s free will. Sexual assault includes having sexual contact with a victim while knowing or having reason to know that the victim was incapacitated by drugs (including alcohol) or was otherwise unable to consent.
Any actions that do not constitute sexual harassment as defined under the University’s policy, may constitute another form of misconduct under the code of conduct as defined in The Kilt.
Making a Complaint
A member of the University community who wishes to file a complaint about sexual harassment by an employee or student of the University should take the following action:
- The complaint should be made to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
The University can most effectively investigate and respond to alleged sexual harassment if the complaint is made as promptly as possible after the alleged sexual harassment occurs. Complaints may be made in person, by mail, by telephone, or by e-mail to the Title IX Coordinator, whose contact information is listed below.
Complaints may be made by the alleged victim of sexual harassment or someone who believes they have witnessed sexual harassment. Complaints may be either formal or informal. Formal complaints are defined as a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a respondent and requesting that the school investigate the allegation of sexual harassment.
Informal complaints are any and all complaints that are not reduced to a writing as defined above, i.e. complaints that are made in person or by telephone. Although the University encourages complaints to be made promptly, there is no time limit on a complainant’s decision to file a formal complaint. The University’s obligation to investigate is triggered only by the filing of a formal complaint.
The University can only take corrective action when it becomes aware of problems. Therefore, the University encourages persons who believe that they have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment to come forward with their complaints and seek assistance within the University. Faculty, staff, and students who believe that they have witnessed sexual harassment are encouraged to report the alleged harassment promptly. In addition, supervisors, managers, and other designated employees are expected to promptly report all allegations of sexual harassment to the Title IX Coordinator.
Once a complaint of sexual harassment is made, whether formal or informal, the Title IX Coordinator shall:
- Promptly contact the alleged victim (“the complainant”) to discuss the availability of supportive measures. The supportive measures offered by the University are discussed below.
- Consider the complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures. Supportive measures are the only remedies available in response to an informal complaint. Additional remedies may only be considered after the filing of a formal complaint.
- Explain to the complainant the process for filing a formal complaint.
- The complainant’s wishes as to whether the school investigates the allegations should be respected unless the Title IX Coordinator determines that signing a formal complaint to initiate an investigation over the wishes of the complainant is not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.
- If the allegations do not meet the definition of sexual harassment, the Title IX Coordinator shall dismiss the complaint for purposes of Title IX, but the University may elect to address the allegations under the code of conduct as defined in The Kilt.
Grievance Process for Formal Complaints
This grievance process will be instituted for every formal complaint:
- Any person alleged to be the victim of sexual assault, whether that allegation is made by the alleged victim or not, will be treated as a complainant.
- Upon receiving a formal complaint, the University shall send written notice to both parties of the allegations in the complaint.
- The University shall apply a presumption that the respondent is not responsible during the grievance process.
- The burden to gather evidence and burden of proof is on the University, not on the parties.
- The parties will be provided equal opportunity for the parties to present fact and expert witnesses and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence.
- Each party can select an advisor of the party’s choice who may be, but need not be, an attorney.
- The University shall objectively evaluate all relevant evidence, inculpatory and exculpatory, and shall avoid credibility determinations based on a person’s status as a complainant, respondent, or witness.
- All Title IX personnel, including Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, and persons who facilitate any informal resolution process, shall be free from conflicts of interest of bias for or against complainants or respondents. The decision-maker cannot be the Title IX Coordinator or the investigator.
- The University shall use the preponderance of the evidence standard for all formal complaints of sexual harassment.
- The University shall send written notice of any investigative interviews, meetings, or hearings.
- The University shall send the parties and their advisors evidence directly related to the allegations and an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence with at least 10 days for the parties to inspect, review, and respond to the evidence.
The University shall conduct a live hearing, as follows:
- A decision-maker (or fact-finder) will preside over each live hearing.
- Each party’s advisor shall be allowed to ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. Such cross-examination shall be conducted by the party’s advisor and never by a party him or herself.
- At the request of either party, the University shall provide for the entire live hearing, including cross-examination, to occur with the parties located in separate rooms with technology enabling the parties to see and hear each other.
- Before any party or witness answers any question, the decision-maker must first determine whether the question is relevant and must explain to the advisor asking the question any decision to exclude a question as not relevant. Questions and evidence regarding a complainant’s prior sexual behavior are irrelevant unless offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the alleged misconduct or offered to prove consent.
- If a party does not have an advisor present at the live hearing, the University shall provide, without fee or charge to that party, an advisor of the school’s choosing to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party.
- If a party or witness does not submit to cross-examination at the live hearing, none of that party or witness’ statements can be relied on in reaching a determination as to responsibility. However, a determination as to responsibility cannot rely on a party or witness’ absence for the live hearing or refusal to submit to cross-examination.
- Parties may appear at the live hearing virtually, at the school’s discretion.
- The University shall maintain an audio or audiovisual recording or transcript of the live hearing that will be made available to the parties for inspection and review.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the decision-maker shall issue a written determination regarding responsibility with findings of fact, conclusions about whether the alleged conduct occurred, rationale for the result as to each allegation, any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the respondent, and whether remedies will be provided to the parties.
The written determination must include information about how to file an appeal. This written determination will be issued no later than fourteen (14) days following the conclusion of the live hearing.
Informal Resolution of Complaints
If both parties give voluntary, informed, written consent, the University will offer mediation as an informal resolution option. At any time prior to agreeing to a resolution, any party has the right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the grievance process with respect to the formal complaint. Informal resolution will not be used to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student.
The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found responsible for allegations of sexual harassment:
- Loss of Privileges
- Behavioral Requirement
- Housing Reassignment, Probation, Suspension, or Expulsion
- Suspension or Expulsion
- No Contact Order
Either party may appeal a determination regarding responsibility or a dismissal of a formal complaint by informing the Title IX Coordinator in writing of the party’s desire to appeal within five (5) days of notification of the decision. Appeals may be taken on the following bases:
- A procedural irregularity affected the outcome of the matter;
- A party has newly discovered evidence that was not available during the investigation and the evidence could affect the outcome of the matter; and/or
- Title IX personnel had a conflict of interest or bias that affected the outcome of the matter.
- Once a request for an appeal is received, both parties will be notified in writing of the receipt of an appeal simultaneously. An appeal is not a re-hearing of a matter to establish fact and, therefore, shall be limited to a review of the record of the initial hearing and supporting documents, except as required to explain the basis of new information. A decision and notification of a final decision will be made within ten (10) days and will be sent to both parties simultaneously.
Reports of criminal activity should also be directed to the Director of Security regardless of whether the matter also is reported and being investigated as sexual harassment. For example, victims of sexual assault may notify the civil authorities, either through Security or on their own.
Disciplinary action at the University will normally proceed even if criminal proceedings have been initiated. University action will not be subject to challenge on the grounds that criminal charges involving the same incident have been dismissed or reduced, or that no criminal charges have been brought.
The procedures and burdens of proof in a disciplinary action are different from those applicable to a criminal trial. If civil authorities are notified, students can anticipate that the University may consult with and be in communication with such authorities.
Ms. Virginia Henderson
Title IX Coordinator and Director of Human Resources and Payroll
601-927-3636 (Work Cell)
All complaints of alleged sexual harassment are investigated under the oversight of the University’s Title IX Coordinator (administrators, faculty and staff). The University will process all formal complaints of sexual harassment it receives; regardless of where the conduct which is the basis for the complaint allegedly occurred, as long as the complaint is against a person in the United States.
The Title IX Coordinator may also determine that an investigation is warranted without a formal complaint if the University has sufficient notice that sexual harassment may have occurred.
1. Supportive Measures
Within three (3) business days of receiving a complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will contact the complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a formal complaint. The complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures will be considered. Supportive measures include, but are not limited to:
- access to counseling;
- changes to class, work, or housing assignments;
- extensions of academic deadlines or other course related adjustments;
- campus escort services;
- mutual restrictions on contact between individuals; and
- a leave of absence.
2. Investigation Timelines
Investigations of sexual harassment will normally be completed within 60 calendar days, with an additional 15 calendar days to complete a formal report where appropriate. If the investigation cannot be completed within that timeframe, the complainant and the respondent will be informed of the reasons for the delay and an estimated date of completion.
3. Interim Measures
The University may take interim measures it deems necessary during an investigation. Interim measures will be taken within the context of University policies and might include changes to class or housing assignments for student or work assignments for employees.
The review of sexual harassment complaints, including formal investigation, will be conducted confidentially to the extent permitted by law, except insofar as information needs to be disclosed so that the University may effectively investigate the matter or take corrective action.
Persons who complain about sexual harassment, or who cooperate in the University’s investigation and handling of sexual harassment reports or complaints, shall not be subject to retaliation for complaining or cooperating, even if the University finds that no sexual harassment occurred. If a complainant or witness believes that she or he is being subjected to retaliation, she or he should promptly contact the Title IX Coordinator.
Members of the University community are expected to cooperate in the University’s investigation of alleged sexual harassment by University officials.
A discrimination-free environment is the responsibility of every member of the community. Faculty and staff set the tone regarding acceptable conduct and climate within their campus area. Employees who need assistance in applying this Policy, education and training with respect to the Policy and who have questions about sexual harassment prevention may contact the Title IX Coordinator.
Verse of the Year
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.