Policy: Section X
X. Initial Review and Resolution
A. Overview of Resolution Options
Upon receipt of a report of bias, harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, including sexual violence, racism, homophobia, and transphobia, the Director of Title IX & Civil Rights Compliance/Title IX Coordinator (Title IX Coordinator) will reach out to the Complainant to offer supportive measures and to inform them of how to file a formal complaint. The initial steps for resolution of any report of harassment will involve the same stages: initial assessment, implementation of supportive measures, followed by an administrative response, an informal resolution option, or a formal investigation and resolution process as appropriate.
The Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with members of the Title IX Team or Bias Response Team as appropriate, will conduct an initial review of the report. The goal of this review is to provide an integrated and coordinated response to reports of harassment. The review will consider the nature of the report, the safety of the individuals involved and of the campus community, and the Complainant’s expressed preference for resolution. Upon completion of the initial review, the Title IX Coordinator will determine the next steps in the resolution of the report. In most circumstances, the college will defer to the wishes of the Complainant on how to proceed.
If an informal, non-disciplinary resolution is desired, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the Complainant to determine and implement an administrative response to a) support the Complainant and restore their access to the college’s education program and activities; b) stop any harassment or discrimination that may be occurring; and c) prevent the reoccurance of the alleged behavior wherever possible. When informal, administrative action is taken, there is no determination of whether a policy violation has occurred.
If a formal disciplinary resolution process is desired and appropriate, an investigation will be initiated. The goal of the investigation is to gather all relevant facts. Upon completion of the investigation, a hearing will be held to determine if there is a preponderance of evidence that a violation of the policy occurred. If the Respondent is found responsible for a policy violation, disciplinary sanctions will be implemented.
 Throughout the remainder of this section, the terms “harassment” and “discrimination” are used as umbrella terms to capture all forms of bias, harassment, and discrimination, including those specifically named here.
 For more information on the circumstances that necessitate the college taking action without the support of the Complainant, see Section VIII.J.
B. Role of the Title IX Coordinator and Title IX Team in Resolution Process
The President of Bates College has designated Gwen Lexow, Director of Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance, to serve as the college’s Title IX Coordinator (hereafter, “Title IX Coordinator”). The Title IX Coordinator oversees the college’s centralized review and resolution of all reports of bias, harassment, and discrimination, including racism, homophobia, sexual harassment, sexual assualt, stalking, domestic and dating violence. The Title IX Coordinator is supported by four Title IX Deputy Coordinators. As neutral parties, the Title IX Coordinator and Deputies ensure the following:
- any party involved in the reporting or resolution of a report is treated with respect, dignity, and fairness;
- parties are afforded their rights under this policy;
- all appropriate resolution procedures are followed;
- all parties receive timely and clear communication regarding the resolution of the report; and
- parties receive appropriate supportive measures to assist them with their education while the report is resolved.
C. Initial Review
Following receipt of a report of an alleged violation of this policy, the Title IX Coordinator will engage in an initial assessment, typically within one to five business days.
The Initial Review will proceed to the point where there is a clear understanding of the allegations and a reasonable assessment of the safety of the individuals involved and of the campus community can be made. Should the college determine there is any risk of harm to individuals or to the campus community, it will take steps necessary to address those risks.
As part of the Initial Review, Title IX Coordinator will:
- Assess the nature and circumstances of the allegation(s);
- Assess whether there are any immediate risks to the safety of the Complainant and the broader campus community that need to be addressed;
- Notify the Complainant of the following:
- how to file a formal complaint;
- their right to contact law enforcement and seek medical treatment;
- their right to have an Advisor;
- the importance of preservation of evidence;
- the availability of on and off campus resources;
- the range of available supportive and safety measures;
- the range of the procedural options, including informal remedies-based resolution and formal resolution; and
- the college’s policy prohibiting retaliation;
- Discuss with the Complainant their expressed preference for the manner of resolution and if there are any barriers to proceeding;
- Assess whether there is evidence of an on-going pattern of behavior or other similar conduct by Respondent;
- Notify Campus Safety to record the report as part of the college’s daily crime log, as applicable; and
- Assess the reported conduct for the need for a timely warning under the Clery Act.
If a Complainant wishes to file a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will assist them in doing so and will work with them to ensure the complaint is filed correctly. If a Complainant does not wish to file a complaint at this time, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether they will initiate a complaint because a violence risk assessment indicates a compelling threat to the health and/or safety of any other individual or the broader community. Initiating a complaint without the support of the Complainant will be done only when circumstances are such that it is necessary to protect the broader community or other compelling reason.
Once a formal complaint is filed the Complainant may decide whether they prefer informal or formal resolution of the complaint. If the Complainant prefers an informal resolution option, the Title IX Coordinator will assess whether the complaint is suitable for informal resolution and may seek to determine if the Respondent is also willing to engage in informal resolution.
If the Complainant desires formal resolution of the complaint, including an investigation and hearing, the Title IX Coordinator will determine if the misconduct alleged falls within the scope of Title IX. If it does, the Title IX Coordinator will initiate the formal investigation and resolution process, directing the investigation to address one or more of the following: a single incident of prohibited behavior, a pattern of alleged misconduct, and/or a culture/climate issue, based on the nature of the complaint. If the Title IX Coordinator determines that Title IX does not apply, they will “dismiss” that aspect of the complaint. They will then assess which resolution process is applicable and refer the matter to that process accordingly. Please note that dismissing a complaint under Title IX is solely a procedural requirement under Title IX, and does not limit Bates’s authority to address a complaint with an appropriate process and remedies.
When the Complainant prefers a supportive or administrative response (with or without the filing of an official complaint), the Title IX Coordinator will work with the Complainant to identify their wishes, assess the request, and implement the requests accordingly. No Formal Resolution Process is initiated, though the Complainant can elect to initiate one at a later date, if desired.
 All references to the Title IX Coordinators duties include the understanding that those duties may be completed by their designee as well.
 All complaints that include allegations of Sexual Harassment (including sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking) will be resolved using Process A. Complaints that allege other prohibited conduct under this policy involving students will typically follow Process B. Complaints that allege other prohibited conduct involving employees typically will be resolved using the procedures outlined in the Employee or Faculty Handbooks. The college reserves the right to determine which process is most appropriate. The Title IX Coordinator will make this determination based upon the nature of the allegation(s).
In many cases, the Title IX Coordinator may determine that a Violence Risk Assessment (VRA) should be conducted by the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) as part of the initial assessment. A VRA can aid in ten critical and/or required determinations, including:
- assessment of the need for emergency removal of a Respondent on the basis of an immediate threat to the physical health and/or safety of another person or the broader community;
- whether the Title IX Coordinator should pursue a formal complaint absent a willing/able Complainant;
- whether to put the investigation on the footing of a single incident and/or a pattern and/or a climate issue;
- to help identify potential predatory conduct;
- to help assess and identify grooming behaviors;
- assessment of whether it is reasonable to attempt to resolve a complaint through Informal Resolution;
- whether to permit a voluntary withdrawal by the Respondent;
- whether to impose transcript notation on the Respondent’s official transcript, or otherwise alert another institution of the allegations against the Respondent;
- assessment of appropriate sanctions and remedies (to be applied post-hearing); and/or
- whether a Clery Act Timely Warning or other protective measure, such as a No Contact Order or Trespass order is needed.
Threat assessment is the process of evaluating the actionability of violence by an individual against another person or group following the issuance of a direct or conditional threat. A VRA is a broader term used to assess any potential violence or danger, regardless of the presence of a vague, conditional, or direct threat.
A VRA is not an evaluation for an involuntary behavioral health hospitalization, nor is it a psychological or mental health assessment. A VRA assesses the risk of actionable violence, often with a focus on targeted or predatory escalations, and is supported by research from the fields of law enforcement, criminology, human resources, and psychology.
VRAs require specific training and are typically conducted by psychologists, clinical counselors, social workers, case managers, law enforcement officers, student conduct officers, or other Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) team members. A VRA authorized by the Title IX Coordinator will occur in collaboration with the BIT. Where a VRA is required by the Title IX Coordinator, refusal to cooperate in a VRA by a Respondent may result in disciplinary action for failure to comply with a college official or disciplinary process within the appropriate student or employee conduct process.
The 2020 federal Title IX Regulations (34 CFR§106.45) requires Title IX Coordinators to dismiss a formal complaint under certain conditions. The Title IX Coordinator is also granted the latitude to dismiss a complaint for Title IX purposes based on additional criteria. These dismissals are referred to as mandatory and discretionary dismissals and are strictly procedural. Upon any dismissal, the Title IX Coordinator will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and the rationale for doing so simultaneously to the parties. Further information about next steps in the resolution of the complaint will be included in any dismissal notice. Dismissal decisions, including decisions not to dismiss, are appealable by any party under the procedures for appeal below.
- Mandatory Dismissal Criteria
The Title IX Coordinator must dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the initial review, investigation, or hearing, it is determined one or more of the following:
- the conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute Sexual Harassment as defined in Section V, even if proven;
- the alleged conduct did not occur in a Bates College educational program or activity and/or the college did/does not have control over the Respondent;
- the conduct did not occur against a person in the United States; and
- at the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant is not participating in or attempting to participate in a Bates College education program or activity.
- Discretionary Dismissal Criteria
The Title IX Coordinator may dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the initial review, investigation, or hearing:
- a Complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein; or
- the Respondent is no longer enrolled in or employed by the college; or
- specific circumstances prevent the college from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.
 A Complainant who decides to withdraw a complaint may later request to reinstate it or refile it.
D. Administrative Resolution
Administrative resolution is a remedies-based, non-judicial approach designed to address the needs of the Complainant and/or to eliminate the offending conduct or any hostile environment without taking disciplinary action against a Respondent. Complainants who do not wish to file a formal complaint may request administrative interventions in conjunction with the supportive measures the college offers.
Where the Initial Review concludes that Administrative Resolution may be appropriate, the college will take immediate and corrective action designed to maximize the Complainant’s access to the educational activities at the college and to eliminate a hostile environment. These actions may include any of the supportive or protective measures detailed in Section IX. Other actions might include implementation of a No Contact Order, targeted or broad-based educational programming or training, direct confrontation of the Respondent and/or indirect action by the Title IX Coordinator or other administrator. The Title IX Coordinator will work with the Complainant to determine how to proceed. The goal of Administrative Resolution is to provide the Complainant with as much control over the process as possible while still addressing the offending behavior. Depending on the actions desired, it may be possible to maintain the anonymity of the Complainant.
Any actions taken as a result of Administrative Resolution must be non-disciplinary and non-punitive. There is no determination of whether a policy violation has occurred.
Complainants who request Administrative Resolution retain the right to file a formal complaint and request Informal or Formal Resolution of that complaint at a later date.
E. Informal Resolution
Informal resolution provides the parties with an opportunity to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution of a complaint without a full formal grievance process. Informal Resolution may be requested by either party after the filing of an formal complaint, but prior to the start of the hearing. Informal Resolution may take three different forms — resolution through an Alternate Resolution method, acceptance of responsibility by the Respondent, and negotiated resolution by the Title IX Coordinator. Each of the forms is described below.
Upon receiving notice that either party would like to pursue Informal Resolution, the Title IX Coordinator will do the following:
- Confirm the appropriateness of Informal Resolution, based upon the Initial Review;
- Determine which form(s) of Informal Resolution may be most appropriate;
- Notify parties of the following:
- the request to pursue Informal Resolution;
- that participation in Informal Resolution is strictly voluntary;
- the nature of the allegations and the sanctions and remedies that may result from participating in the process;
- their right to decline Informal Resolution and/or to stop the process at any time once it has begun;
- their right to pursue Formal Resolution at any time prior to reaching an agreement;
- their right to an Advisor of their choosing;
- information regarding recordkeeping related to Informal Resolution, including what information will be maintained or shared related to the complaint.
- Obtain written confirmation that all parties wish to resolve the matter through Informal Resolution before proceeding.
Results of successful Informal Resolution are not appealable. Failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive or disciplinary actions.
Alternative Resolution is an informal resolution mechanism, such as mediation or restorative practices, by which the parties reach a mutually agreed upon resolution of an allegation. All parties must consent to the use of an Alternative Resolution mechanism.
When deciding whether Alternative Resolution is appropriate and which form of Alternate Resolution may be most successful for the parties, the Title IX Coordinator will consider the following:
- parties’ amenability to Alternative Resolution and motivation to participate;
- the goals or desired outcomes of the parties;
- the likelihood of potential resolution, taking into account any power dynamics between the parties and the complexity of the complaint;
- results of a violence risk assessment/ongoing risk analysis, including whether emergency removal is necessary;
- prior disciplinary history of the parties;
- the relationship between the parties and their ability to engage in Alternate Resolution with each other;
- the skill of the Alternative Resolution facilitator with this type of allegation; and
- whether adequate resources exist to invest in Alternative Resolution (time, staff, etc.).
The ultimate determination of whether Alternative Resolution is available and whether it has been successful is to be made by the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive and/or disciplinary actions. Results of complaints resolved by Alternative Resolution are not appealable.
At any point during the resolution process, the Respondent may choose to accept responsibility for all or part of the alleged misconduct. If the Respondent indicates an intent to accept responsibility for all of the alleged misconduct, the resolution process will be paused, and the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether Informal Resolution can be used according to the criteria above.
If Informal Resolution is appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether all parties and the college are able to agree on the responsibility, sanctions, and/or remedies. If agreement can be reached, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice that the Respondent is responsible for a violation(s) of this policy and will implement the agreed-upon sanctions and/or remedies, in coordination with other appropriate administrator(s), as necessary. These sanctions or responsive actions will be implemented promptly in order to effectively stop the harassment or discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct, both on the Complainant and the community. This result is not subject to appeal once all parties indicate their written assent to all agreed upon terms of resolution. When the parties cannot agree on the terms of resolution, the Formal Resolution Process may be initiated, or resumed at the same point where it was paused.
With the consent of the parties, the Title IX Coordinator may negotiate and implement an agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and the college. If an agreement can be reached, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice of the terms of the agreement and will oversee the parties’ compliance with those terms. The Title IX Coordinator maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive and/or disciplinary actions. Negotiated Resolutions are not appealable.
F. Formal Resolution
Formal Resolution is the formal grievance process that includes a fact-gathering investigation into the complaint, a determination hearing, and opportunities for appeal. The goal of Formal Resolution is to determine whether the Respondent is responsible for a violation of this policy. If the Respondent is found responsible for a policy violation, disciplinary sanctions and/or remedial actions will also be determined.
The formal grievance procedures are guided by the principles of fundamental fairness and respect for all parties, which require notice, an equitable opportunity to be heard, and an equitable opportunity to respond to a report under this policy. All grievance procedures used to resolve Sexual Harassment and other Title IX allegations are in compliance with the 2020 federal regulations regarding the handling of Sexual Harassment under Title IX. The specific procedures for Formal Resolution are detailed in Sections XI and XII. Below is a summary of the major components of the Formal Resolution process.
Where the Initial Review concludes that a policy violation may have occurred and disciplinary action may be appropriate, the college may initiate a formal investigation. The college will designate one or more a trained Investigator(s) who has specific training and experience investigating allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. The Investigator(s) may be employees of the college, external consultants engaged to assist the college in its fact gathering, or any combination therof. Any Investigator chosen to conduct the investigation must be impartial and free of any conflict of interest.
The Investigator(s) will conduct the investigation in a manner appropriate in light of the circumstances of the case, which will typically include interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, and any witnesses. The Investigator(s) will also gather any available physical evidence, including documents, communications between the parties, and other electronic records as appropriate. In gathering the facts, the Investigator(s) may consider prior allegations of similar conduct by the Respondent to the extent such information is relevant.
As part of the investigation, the college will provide an opportunity for the parties to suggest witnesses and to present other evidence. The Investigator(s) will provide periodic updates to the Title IX Coordinator regarding the investigation timeline and any emerging needs for the Complainant or Respondent. Throughout the investigation and prior to the hearing, the parties will have opportunities to review all relevant evidence and the investigation report.
The investigation is intended to provide a fair and reliable gathering of the facts. It will be thorough, impartial, and fair, and all individuals will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect. As described in Section IV, the investigation will be conducted in a manner that is respectful of individual privacy concerns. The college will seek to complete the investigation phase within 30 (thirty) calendar days of initiating the investigation, but this time frame may be extended depending on the complexity of the circumstances of each case.
 More information regarding the training of Investigators can be found in Section XI.A.d.
Upon completion of the investigation, a determination hearing will be scheduled, provided the complaint is not resolved through Informal Resolution. The goal of this hearing is to provide the parties with an opportunity to be heard by one or more impartial decision-makers. After the presentation of all evidence, the Hearing Officer(s) will determine whether the Respondent is responsible for a violation of this policy based upon a preponderance of evidence and, if so, appropriate sanctions and/or remedies.
At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, the college will designate one or more Hearing Officer(s) to preside over the hearing. The Hearing Officer(s) may be employees of the college, external consultants engaged to assist the college in its resolution of the complaint, or a combination thereof. Any Hearing Officer chosen to conduct the hearing must be impartial and free of any conflict of interest. In all cases, these individuals will have received specific training related to resolution of allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
The Hearing Officer(s) will conduct the hearing following the procedures outlined in Sections XI and XII. These procedures provide the Complainant and the Respondent with opportunities to be heard and to challenge the evidence presented by and credibility of the other party. Upon a finding of responsibility, the parties will be able to submit an impact statement for the Hearing Officer(s) to consider when determining appropriate sanctions. The Hearing Officer(s) will also consider the prior conduct history of the Respondent when determining sanctions.
After the completion of the hearing, the Complainant and Respondent will receive a written Notice of the Outcome of the hearing including the final determination, the rationale for the determination, and any sanctions. The Notice will also include relevant procedures for appealing the determination.
The college seeks to provide a fair and reliable determination of whether a policy violation has occurred. The hearing will be thorough, impartial, and fair, and all individuals will be treated by the Hearing Officer(s) with appropriate sensitivity and respect. As described in Section IV, the hearing will be conducted in a manner that is respectful of individual privacy concerns.
 More information regarding the training of Hearing Officers can be found in Section XI.A.d.
Both the Complainant and the Respondent are afforded opportunities to appeal on limited grounds. If an appeal meets the limited grounds, the non-appealing party will be notified of the appeal and have an opportunity to respond to it. Appeals are not intended to be a full re-hearing of the allegations or evidence.
At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, the college will designate either one or more Appellate Officer(s) to review and rule on the appeal. The Appellate Officer(s) may be employees of the college, external consultants engaged to assist the college in its resolution of the complaint, or a combination thereof. Any Appellate Officer chosen to hear the appeal must be impartial and free of any conflict of interest. In all cases, these individuals will have received specific training related to resolution of allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. The Appellate Officer(s) will gather and review all relevant information prior to making a decision on appeal. Once a decision on appeal has been made, a Notice of Appeal Outcome will be sent to all parties. This Notice will specify the findings and rationale for each decision, as well as next steps in the resolution process, if any.
 More information regarding the training of Appellate Officers can be found in Section XI.A.d.