» 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. There is also a set of FAQs for the appeals process.

+ - 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?

When the investigators identify someone as a witness, it is typically 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, are not egregious in nature, or do not violate the academic integrity policy.

+ - What will the meeting(s) be like?

For student(s)-to-student(s) matters and matters in which there is a student respondent, two investigators will likely meet with you. They may ask to meet with you only once, or they may ask to follow up with you after your initial meeting. The meeting will be a conversation with them, and both investigators will take notes and ask you questions. You may decline to answer any and all questions. You are encouraged to ask the investigators any questions you have so they can address your questions and concerns either before, during, or after your meeting(s) with them.

+ - 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 a situation during which it has been alleged that there were possible violations of the Student Conduct Code or Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. You may know or have been near the individual alleged to have engaged in the policy-violating behavior (the respondent) and/or you may know or have been near the individual who experienced those alleged actions (the complainant).

+ - Do I have to meet with the investigators?

While the investigator(s) will ask to meet with you if they believe you have information, and they are interested in gathering information from you and all other 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.

+ - 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. If you request to review these notes from your meeting with them, the investigators can allow you to read through the notes from your meeting before they prepare the notes for review by anyone else. Once the investigators finish their fact-gathering portion of the investigation, the investigators will make all of their notes from each of their meetings available for review by the complainant and respondent directly involved with the case.

+ - 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 that can be found in the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. 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 or other drugs), unless the University determines that the violation was egregious. Egregious violations include, but are not limited to, actions that place the health or safety of another other person at risk or that involve academic dishonesty.”

+ - 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.

+ - 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
  • 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.

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