» Title IX Reporting & Investigation FAQs for Student Witnesses

The following is a list of frequently asked questions that may be helpful for any student who is or may be a witness in a Title IX investigation at Chapman University. Please also see the specific FAQs for complainants, respondents, and general audiences as well as FAQs about the hearings and appeals processes.

+ - Why am I being asked to meet with investigators?

The University is following up on a reported concern, and believes you may have relevant information.

+ - Who will I be meeting with?

The Title IX Coordinator and/or Title IX investigator(s) will likely ask to meet with you. In most cases, if you are a potential witness in a student-to-student matter or a matter that involves a student alleged to have violated policy (called a student respondent) you will meet with two specially trained investigators.

+ - Am I in trouble?

Typically, when the investigators identify someone as a witness, it is because they believe that person may have relevant information – not because that person is under investigation. The University has an amnesty policy, which may apply to your situation. Under the amnesty policy, the complainant or any witnesses involved in an incident(s) will not be held accountable for violations of the Student Conduct Code (including alcohol or illegal substances policies) that may have occurred at the time of or as a result of the incident in question, provided that these violations did not endanger others or are not egregious in nature or do not violate the academic integrity policy.

Please view the Amnesty Policy in the Student Conduct Code here.

+ - What will the meeting be like?

For student(s)-to-student(s) matters and matters in which there is a student respondent, two investigators will likely participate in the meeting. It will be a conversation with them. Both investigators will take handwritten notes and ask you questions, but you may decline to answer. They will have some questions for you, and will also provide you some time to provide any additional information that you wish.

+ - What will I be asked about?

Depending on your involvement, the investigators may be asking very specific questions, or they may be rather broad. In most cases, the questions will involve your knowledge of someone who may have violated the Student Conduct Code (the respondent) and/or someone who experienced those alleged actions (the complainant).

+ - Do I have to meet with the investigators?

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 an investigation or hearing or to answer questions unless they wish to do so.

+ - What will happen with the information I provide?

For student(s)-to-student(s) matters and matters in which there is a student respondent, the investigators will type up notes from your meeting. The notes will be available for review by the individuals directly involved with the case. The investigators will explain specifically who this includes during your meeting.

+ - I am worried about sharing my account of what happened because alcohol and/or other drugs were involved. What should I do?

Chapman University has an amnesty policy in place. It states, "To encourage and support the reporting of incidents of sexual misconduct, students who participate as witnesses or complainants in sexual misconduct investigations will not be held accountable for violations of the Code that may have occurred at the time of or as a result of the incident in question (for example, being under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other controlled substances), unless the University determines that the violation was egregious. Egregious violations includes, but are not limited to, actions that places the health or safety of another other person at risk or involve academic dishonesty."

Please view the Amnesty Policy in the Student Conduct Code here.

+ - Can my identity remain anonymous?

Typically, in student(s)-to-student(s) matters and cases in which the respondent is a student, a witness’s identity cannot remain anonymous. In most cases, the identity of the person who provided certain information is a necessary component others will need to be able to fully understand what was provided.

+ - Does the University have other ways to protect me if I am concerned about the information I provide?

Yes – the University has a policy that prohibits retaliation against anyone who participates in an investigation. If anyone takes adverse action towards you because of your participation in the investigation, please let the investigators know immediately.

Additionally, if you would like a No Contact Order to be placed between you and another student(s) to limit further interaction, please make this request to the investigators or to the Dean of Students Office.

+ - If I provide information to the investigators, will I have to attend a hearing?

For student(s)-to-student(s) matters and matters in which there is a student respondent, it is possible that you will be asked to appear at a hearing. However, not all investigations end with hearings. If a hearing is convened, the hearing administrators may request to meet with all, some, or none of the witnesses.

+ - Who will I be meeting with at the hearing?

For student(s)-to-student(s) matters and matters in which there is a student respondent, typically you will be in a room with two or three staff members who are the hearing officers for that case. These hearing officers, also referred to as the Board, will take handwritten notes and ask you questions, but you may decline to answer.

+ - Will other people be observing the hearing?

For student(s)-to-student(s) matters and matters in which there is a student respondent, the complainant and respondent may be viewing the hearing via webcast in separate rooms. In rare occasions, one or both of them may be in the room with you – however, you will be notified in advance if this is anticipated.

+ - Is the hearing video recorded?

No. However, the University does make an audio recording of student conduct hearings. This recording serves as the record of the hearing, and is available for review by the complainant and respondent.

+ - The whole process of serving as a witness is stressful – is there someone on campus I can talk to?

Yes! The following on-campus resources are confidential, and are available to speak with you, without having to report on any information that you share with them:

  • 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 individual 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.

There are also off-campus resources that can assist you. Please see the full list of available resources on our website here.