Responding Parties

Responding Parties

Individuals who are alleged to have committed an act or acts of harassment, discrimination, sexual and/or relationship misconduct are referred to by the term "responding party."

Responding parties have rights pursuant to the Harassment, Discrimination, Sexual and Relationship Misconduct policy, and will be informed of these rights at the outset of an investigation.

Responding parties will be treated with dignity and respect by University officials involved in the resolution of any alleged violations of University policy. All investigations with be conducted in a manner that is thorough, objective, timely, and respectful.

What to Expect

If a complaint of sexual or relationship misconduct is made, the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) will notify the responding party of the complaint and what steps the office is taking to respond to the complaint. This response may include OEI conducting an investigation in order to resolve the complaint. Responding parties will receive a written notice of investigation informing them of the complaint, the alleged violations of policy, any protective measures that have been put into place, and a request that they meet with the investigative team. The notice of investigation will also inform the responding party of their right to have an advisor of their own choice support them throughout the investigative process.

The investigative team will talk through the entire resolution process and answer any questions you have about the investigation prior to asking you to provide any information in response to what has been reported to OEI. 

Information for Responding Parties (PDF)  

Advisor of Choice

Advisor of Choice

Responding parties have the right to consult with an advisor of choice during the investigative process.  Any person may serve as an advisor, including but not limited to, a faculty or staff member, a friend, a family member, an attorney, or a process navigator.  The role of an advisor is to provide a comforting and familiar presence for a reporting or responding party and to assist in their understanding of the investigative process. The choice whether or not to invite an advisor is solely that of the individual(s) involved. 

The role of the advisor is limited. The advisor may help a reporting or responding party prepare their position, but may not present it or speak for or on behalf of the party during the investigative interview.  The advisor may consult with the reporting or responding party quietly or in writing, or outside the meeting during breaks.  If the advisor is an attorney, a law student or a Law School faculty member, this must be disclosed to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and the University reserves the right to have its own legal counsel present for the meeting. 

If any advisor conducts themselves in a manner inconsistent with these guidelines, or if the advisor attempts to obstruct or otherwise interfere with the investigative process, then the advisor will be warned by the investigative team and/or the Executive Director for the Office of Equity and Inclusion.  If the advisorís interfering behavior continues, the individual will no longer be considered an advisor and the Executive Director may excuse the individual from the investigative process.


Process Navigators

The Office of Equity and Inclusion can connect responding parties with a trained Process Navigator at the responding party's request. Process navigators are trained members of the university community who have knowledge of the investigative process and who are available to the responding party to offer support during an investigation. Responding parties may choose to utilize a Process Navigator as their advisor of choice.

To be connected with a Process Navigator, responding party's can email a request to the Executive Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Evidence & Witnesses

Evidence & Witnesses

Evidence

Responding parties have the opportunity to provide the investigative team with evidence that is relevant to the complaint brought forth by the reporting party.

Evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • Texts messages/communications between involved parties
  • Pictures and videos related to alleged incident(s)
  • Electronic data related to the alleged incident(s)
  • Receipts
  • Medical records
  • Physical objects (e.g. clothing, gifts, etc.)
  • Travel records
  • Written statements

Responding parties may also choose to submit to the investigative team a written account or statement regarding the alleged incident(s) brought forth by the reporting party.

Witnesses

Responding parties have the ability to provide the investigative team with names of potential witnesses to be interviewed as a part of the investigative process. 

Witnesses are considered to be individuals who may have information related to a complaint alleging harassment, discrimination, sexual or relationship misconduct. The investigative team will determine which of those potential witnesses, or other persons, may have relevant information about the complaint. Witnesses may include individuals outside the Creighton community.  Additionally, the investigative team may interview individuals with an expertise specific to elements of the reported incident (e.g. alcohol-drug interactions).

Reviewing Investigative Findings

Reviewing Investigative Findings

Responding parties have the ability to review and respond to the investigative team's documentation of the findings of the investigation prior to the completion of the investigative report.

This information includes:

  • Summaries of interviews given by the responding party
  • Summaries of interviews given by the reporting party
  • Summaries of interview given by witnesses
  • Evidence gathered by the investigative team during the course of the investigation

Any feedback or responses offered by the responding party will be included in the investigative report for the consideration of the Executive Director.

Timeline

Timeline

The Office of Equity and Inclusion strives to conclude the formal resolution process within sixty (60) calendar days. This timeline includes the investigative team conducting interviews, gathering evidence, affording the reporting and responding parties the opportunity to respond to the evidence, and completing the investigative report. The reporting party and responding party will be notified in writing of any reasonable delays during this process.

Sanctions

Sanctions

In the event the Executive Director for the Office of Equity and Inclusion determines that an individual has violated this policy, the University reserves the right to impose differing sanctions, depending on the severity and/or pervasiveness of the violation. In determining appropriate sanction(s), the University will consider the concerns and rights of both the reporting party and the responding party and must examine and consider a number of factors, including, but not limited to: 1) level of risk or harm to the community; 2) the nature and seriousness of the offense; 3) apparent pattern of conduct including previous violations of this policy 4) motivation underlying the responding partyís behavior; and 5) cooperation with the investigation.  A sanction, or a combination of sanctions may be imposed upon any member of the University community found to have violated this policy.

Sanctions will be implemented immediately following the decision of the Executive Director and will be in effect during the appeal period.

For a complete list of possible sanctions, please see Section VII of the Investigative Procedures detailed within the Harassment, Discrimination, Sexual and Relationship Misconduct Policy.

Appeals

Appeals

Once the investigation is completed, the Executive Director of the Office or Equity and Inclusion will determine whether the evidence suggests it is more likely than not that the policy has been violated. The decision of the Executive Director may be appealed by both the reporting party and the responding party.

A written appeal must be filed with the Appeal Officer within five (5) working days of the decision. The deadline by which an appeal must be filed will be communicated in the decision letter. Failure to file an appeal by the deadline means the decision of the Executive Director becomes final.

The Appellantís written appeal must be based on one or more of the following three grounds:

  • Significant Procedural Error: A procedural error occurred during the investigation that significantly impacted the outcome of the investigation as it applies to the Appellant (e.g. substantiated bias, major deviation from established procedures).  A description of the procedural error and its impact on the outcome of the case must be included in the written appeal.
  • New information: New information that becomes known or available that was not available or known to the Appellant during the investigation and that could significantly impact the Executive Directorís findings. Information that was known to the Appellant during the investigation but which the Appellant chose not to present to the investigative team is not considered to be new information. A summary of the alleged new evidence and its potential impact on the investigation findings must be included in the written appeal.
  • Disproportionate Sanction: The sanction imposed as a result of the outcome of the investigation is substantially disproportionate to the violation committed (i.e. unreasonably harsh or light based on the totality of the investigation).  An explanation of how the sanction is substantially disproportionate to the violation committed must be included in the written appeal.

For a complete explanation of the appeals process, please see Section VIII of the Investigative Procedures within the Harassment, Discrimination, Sexual and Relationship Misconduct policy.