Balancing these requirements, and the needs of a complainant, with the rights of the accused is a challenge for the college. Upon making attempts to immediately mitigate the stress a complainant may feel, the college begins to conduct its own investigation. Investigators speak with the complainant and the respondent (accused) to get initial responses. These interviews lead to other witnesses to interview.
Investigators include those with Title IX training. Putnam said it is difficult for the college to employ a full-time Title IX coordinator. The college does not involve private investigators for these situations. Putnam added that the college screens those chosen to investigate a particular incident to ensure that the investigators can be impartial. If an investigator has regular contact with one of the parties involved, it may make the process more difficult.
“We look for any conflict of interest and look for impartiality,” Putnam said.
The respondent is entitled to a hearing. A hearing is not a judicial matter and in no way involves the criminal justice system.
“We're not trying a criminal matter,” Putnam said. The hearing is a grievance process. However, there are similarities to criminal trials, as witnesses may be called, evidence presented, etc.
If, following a hearing, a respondent has been found to have violated a college policy, he or she is found responsible. Punishments for being responsible of a policy violation include restrictions within the campus. No contact orders, restriction of access to facilities and classes, movement restrictions and suspensions can be handed out by the administration, depending upon the severity of the violation.
A responsible party's actions in college can haunt him or her beyond their college days. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives educational institutions the power to decide which parts of a student's record is released – even to parents.