» General Title IX Reporting & Investigation FAQs

The following is a list of frequently asked questions that may be helpful for anyone involved or considering being involved in the Title IX investigation process at Chapman University. Please also see the overview of investigation procedures and consider reviewing the specific FAQs for complainants, respondents, and witnesses as well as FAQs about the hearings and appeals processes.

+ - What is consent?

Consent means an affirmative, conscious, voluntary agreement by all participants to engage in sexual activity, communicated through mutually understandable words and/or actions. Verbal consent is not required, but any actions used to communicate must be understandable by all parties involved in the sexual activity. Affirmative consent must be continuously present throughout an interaction, for all sexual activities, and may be modified, withdrawn or revoked at any time. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the activity to ensure that affirmative consent has been obtained from the other or others to engage in sexual activity.

Past consent does not constitute present consent. Consent cannot be assumed or inferred from silence, the absence of a “no,” or lack of protest or resistance. Further, consent cannot be obtained through threat, force, or coercion. One cannot obtain consent from a person who is asleep, incapacitated by alcohol and/or other drugs, or otherwise mentally or physically unable to make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent.

If you are sexually active, it is critical that you understand the boundaries of consent. Before you engage in sexual activity with your partner(s), you must take reasonable steps to ascertain 1) whether your partner(s) understand the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the sexual activity, and 2) whether your partner(s) communicated, through mutually understandable words or actions, that they are actively and willingly consenting to every stage of sexual activity. For clarification on what consent is and is not, please see Appendix 5 of the Student Conduct Code –  Sexual Misconduct Policies at www.chapman.edu/consent.

+ - What is considered sexual misconduct at Chapman?

Any sexual behavior, attempted or completed, that goes beyond the boundaries of consent (as defined in Appendix 5, Sexual Misconduct Policies). These include domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, and retaliation for reporting any of these behaviors. Intoxication of the respondent does not diminish their responsibility for an act of sexual misconduct. For more information, please see Appendix 5 of the Student Conduct Code about Sexual Misconduct Policies or review www.chapman.edu/consent.

+ - What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex- and gender-based discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Specifically, Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Under Title IX, schools are required to take prompt and effective steps to end the sexual harassment or sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment created by such behavior, prevent the recurrence of the behavior, and remedy its effects.

+ - What happens when someone reports a possible Title IX or sexual misconduct incident to the University?

All reports of possible sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct are reviewed by a Title IX Coordinator at the University. Once a complaint is received, the Title IX Coordinator and/or investigator(s) conduct an initial assessment. The University prioritizes student safety and will take action to help students connect with immediate medical attention or resources such as counseling or interim and supportive measures. The Title IX Coordinator or Title IX investigator(s) will meet with the reporting party (often referred to as the complainant) to understand what happened and how that individual wants to proceed. The complainant will receive information about reporting options and support resources at that time.

The Title IX Coordinator and/or investigator(s) may initiate an investigation into the matter depending on a variety of factors, such as the type of the allegation. Investigations for student(s)-to-student(s) matters and cases in which a student is the individual alleged to have violated policy usually involve two specially trained Title IX investigators meeting with the complainant, the individual alleged to have violated policy (known as the respondent), and any relevant witnesses. The investigator(s) will gather relevant information and documentation and make a determination, based on the information provided, as to whether or not it is more likely than not that the respondent violated University policy. The investigator(s) will write a detailed report of their findings.

+ - Are all Chapman faculty and staff required to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator?

All University employees, except for those recognized as privileged and confidential sources on campus, are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct. Privileged and confidential support individuals are people you can speak with on campus who have a professional requirement to maintain the confidentiality* of your conversation. They are good resources if you need someone to talk to, but do not want to provide information in a formal or reportable way.

These individuals can let you know what your options are and provide confidential support:

  • Student Psychological Counseling Services
    • During business hours: (714) 997-6778
    • After hours, emergency support may be reached through Public Safety or Residence Life staff
  • Dani Smith, Ed.D., Chapman University Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Counselor
  • Chapman Sexual Assault Information Line
    • (714) 744-7000
  • Reverend Gail Stearns, Ph.D., Dean of Chapel
    • (714) 628-7289
  • Reverend Nancy Brink, Director of Church Relations
    • (714) 997-6760
  • Frances Smith Center for Individual & Family Therapy
    • (714) 997-6746

*While the individuals listed above to have professionally required confidentiality, there are certain, specific situations in which they are not able to maintain information confidentially. Those situations are: (1) if you may be a danger to yourself or others, (2) you have knowledge about any minor or elder currently being subjected to abuse or neglect – including intentional access to unlawful sexual images, or (3) if the information is subpoenaed for court records.

+ - Does Title IX require complainants, respondents, or witnesses to participate in an investigation?

Complainants, respondents, and witnesses are expected to cooperate with a Title IX investigation.  University employees are each responsible for cooperating with University officials who investigate allegations of policy violations. However, no student except in their capacity as University employees will be compelled to participate in a hearing or to answer questions unless they wish to do so.

When a report of possible sexual misconduct is shared with the Title IX Coordinator, the University has a duty to follow up by conducting an initial assessment of the nature of what was reported. Part of this initial assessment will include consideration of the complainant’s expressed preferences as to whether or not the complainant wishes to share details and/or initiate a full investigation. The University tries to honor the complainant’s request, when possible, if the complainant does not wish for the University to move forward with an investigation. However, the University may need to investigate against a complainant’s wishes if there is an imminent danger or safety risk to the campus community.

+ - Who is involved in Chapman’s Title IX investigative process?

For student matters, the Lead Title IX Coordinator and Title IX investigators are responsible for the initial assessment and formal investigation. If requested, an administrative student conduct hearing may be convened to adjudicate the matter following an investigation, and trained hearing officers will oversee that process. Finally, administrators experienced in hearing Title IX appeals may be involved if either the complainant or respondent exercises their right to an appeal. All staff and administrators who are involved in the investigation, hearing process, and appeals process participate in annual, specialized training specific to their roles in order to be involved in the Title IX process at Chapman University.

For more information about the investigation process, please see Investigation Procedures for Student(s)-to-Student(s) Complaints.

+ - How does Chapman determine whether or not a violation of its sexual misconduct policies occurred?

Title IX investigators utilize a preponderance of evidence standard to determine whether it is “more likely than not” that a violation of University policy occurred. This means that the investigators make a determination, based on the information gathered in the investigation, whether or not it is more than 50% likely that a violation occurred. This is different from the criminal process, which requires the highest standard of evidence, known as “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

+ - If a student is found responsible for a violation of Chapman’s sexual misconduct policies through the investigative and/or conduct hearing process, how are outcomes determined?

At the conclusion of an investigation, the investigator(s) will determine if it is more likely than not that the respondent violated University policy, and then the investigator(s) will make recommendations for appropriate sanctions. In making these recommendations, the investigator(s) take reasonable steps to maintain consistency for similar violations, but will consider the unique facts of each case in determining what is appropriate. A combination of both status sanctions and educational sanctions is almost always recommended for a violation of the sexual misconduct policies. The complainant and respondent each have the opportunity to review the findings and recommendations at the conclusion of the investigation and accept or reject the findings and/or sanctions. If either party rejects the findings and/or sanctions, the matter is moved to an administrative hearing for adjudication. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officers will determine whether or not the respondent violated University policy and, if so, what the required sanctions will be.

+ - Does reporting to the University initiate a criminal process/legal process?

No. Complainants may choose to report to the University, make a police report, both, or neither. A Title IX investigation at Chapman University is separate from any criminal or legal process. Chapman supports any complainant who wishes to make a police report and will inform that individual of these reporting options. If a student reports to the police, Chapman will cooperate with any police investigation to the extent possible under federal and state law.

+ - Is there a time limit for making a report?

There is no time limit for making a report. In fact, the University recognizes the sensitive nature of these incidents, and acknowledges that many reports of sexual misconduct are delayed. If the report is delayed to the point where one of the parties has graduated by the date of institutional notice, the University will still seek to meet its Title IX obligation by taking steps to end the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects, when appropriate.