» 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 related to student(s)-to-student(s) matters and cases in which a Chapman student is the individual alleged to have violated policy. 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 appeals process.

To learn more about the faculty and staff policies and procedures, please visit the Equal Opportunity and Diversity page.

+ - What is consent?

Consent is an affirmative, conscious, voluntary agreement by all participants to engage in sexual activity, communicated through mutually understandable words and/or actions. 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consent must be continuously present throughout an interaction, for all sexual activities, and may be modified, withdrawn or revoked at any time.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 before engaging in any sexual activity. Existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, can never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of 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 the full definition of consent, please refer to the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.

+ - What is considered sexual misconduct at Chapman?

According to the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, sexual misconduct is any sex- or gender-based behavior, attempted or completed, that goes beyond the boundaries of consent. The intoxication of or lack of intent by the respondent does not diminish responsibility for an act of sexual misconduct. The following behaviors are prohibited: intimate partner violence and abuse, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, discrimination, making a bad faith complaint of sexual misconduct, and retaliation.

For more information, please see the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.

+ - 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 during an information-gathering phase and then allow both the complainant and respondent to review the collected information and respond to it before the investigators 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 and provide the report to both the complainant and respondent.

+ - 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.

The University has identified individuals and departments on campus who have a professional requirement to maintain confidentiality* of a conversation with a complainant, respondent, or witness who wants someone to talk to, but does not want to report the incident to the University. If a complainant, respondent, or witness discloses sexual violence to a below mentioned individual when that individual is not acting in the role that provides them privilege (such as when a counselor is serving as a professor rather than in their counseling role), the individual is required to make a report to the Title IX Coordinator. The following are individuals and departments on campus who are privileged and confidential resources when working in the following roles:

  • Student Psychological Counseling Services
    • During business hours: (714) 997-6778
  • 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 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?

During fact-gathering in an investigation, the investigator(s) will meet separately with the complainant, respondent and identified witnesses. The investigator(s) will ask the parties for all information related to the allegations, including names of witnesses and documentation related to the incident, which may include documented communications between parties, receipts, photos and video. While the investigator(s) will attempt to gather information from all relevant parties, the University does not compel the participation of complainants, respondents, or witnesses, with the exception of University employees who have been identified as witnesses. University employees are responsible for cooperating with University officials who investigate allegations of policy violations.

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. Administrators experienced in hearing Title IX appeals may be involved if either the complainant or respondent requests an appeal of the investigation outcome. All administrators who are involved in the initial intake, investigation, 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 Matters.

+ - What does the investigation process look like?

If the Title IX Coordinator or designee determines that the University will proceed to a formal investigation, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will assign investigator(s) to the case. The investigator(s) will notify the complainant and the respondent of the investigation and then meet separately with each party, including identified witnesses, to gather information that the parties want to share as part of the investigation.

At the conclusion of their fact-gathering, the investigator(s) will provide the complainant and respondent each with an opportunity to review the information collected. The information review is an opportunity for the parties to access all information gathered to date, such as the investigator(s)’ typed interview notes and documentation collected. At that time, the investigators will then schedule separate response hearings with the complainant and respondent. The response hearing is a chance for one party to meet with the investigators and the Title IX Coordinator and share their response to the information collected during the investigation. The complainant and respondent can bring a written statement to this meeting, may share their perspective verbally, or both. The investigator(s) and Title IX Coordinator will ask the complainant and respondent questions at their respective response hearings.

After all response hearings have concluded, the investigator(s) will prepare the investigation report. The investigator(s) will prepare the report promptly, generally making it available to the parties within 7 business days of the completion of the response hearings. The report will include all information collected, an analysis of the information and University policies, the findings, and assigned sanctions, if appropriate. The complainant and respondent then receive the report and are given a timeframe in which they may appeal the outcome of the investigation, if they choose to do so.

+ - 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 after both the complainant and respondent have had an opportunity to review and respond to the information collected during the investigation process, the investigators determine whether or not there is a preponderance of evidence that the respondent violated University policy. If the investigator(s) determine that policy was violated, they will consult with the Title IX Coordinator on appropriate sanctions. The investigator(s) will write a full investigative report reviewing the information collected, an analysis of the policies in question, the findings, and assigned sanctions.

In assigning sanctions, 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. The sanctions generally applicable to a student who is found responsible for violating Chapman’s Student Conduct Code and Student Sexual Misconduct Policy are found within the sanctions section of the Code. Engaging in sexual misconduct will result in the imposition of one or more of such sanctions from warnings and educational sanctions, up to and including suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident in question and the student’s prior conduct history. While the sanctioning process is individualized, and informed by contextual factors, the sanction for an individual found responsible for a violation of sexual assault typically includes a multi-year suspension or expulsion. All sanctioning determinations will consider the finding(s) of responsibility and a respondent’s cumulative conduct history.

The complainant and respondent each have the opportunity to appeal the findings and/or assigned sanctions at the conclusion of an investigation.

Please see the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy for more information.

+ - 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.