Frequently Asked Questions
Once a report is made to AAEO, what does the process look like?
Please note that this information is a summary of the AAEO process. Full details are included at the AAEO policies and procedures page. To better understand the AAEO investigation process, see the AAEO Process Flow Chart that summarizes the AAEO investigation process.
Once a student has made an initial report about sexual misconduct to a UVM Reporter or directly to AAEO, the AAEO Intake and Outreach Coordinator emails the student information about support resources and reporting options. AAEO facilitates support measures for students—regardless of whether they begin an investigation. The student may choose to report to AAEO, Police Services, both, or neither. In most cases, the University does not investigate a report if the student does not want an investigation, except for limited circumstances as described in the Procedural Guidelines.
If a student wants an investigation, an AAEO investigator will interview the student. A student may bring a support person, called an advisor, with them to the interview.
In each case, AAEO assesses whether the information complainant shared would constitute a violation of the UVM Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy. The AAEO Investigator and AAEO staff are available to discuss the process with the student and answer any questions they have. The AAEO Investigator and AAEO staff are available to discuss the process with the student and answer any questions they have.
AAEO Investigator sends a notice letter to the student who made the report (Complainant) and the student reported to have engaged in misconduct (Respondent), informing them AAEO is conducting an investigation. The accused student (Respondent) is given information about the allegations.
Option for Alternative Resolution
In some matters, a Complainant and Respondent may elect to pursue an alternative resolution instead of an investigation. The purpose of an alternative resolution is to facilitate a range of possible options for resolutions, potentially including dialogue that allows a Complainant to express the harm they have experienced, and the Respondent to understand the impact on Complainant. A range of other measures are also possible, as described in the AAEO procedures. The process is not appropriate for all cases. Participation and agreement with an alternative resolution is voluntary.
The investigator invites the Respondent to be interviewed. AAEO also interviews other witnesses and gathers evidence. The investigator writes a “Record of Investigation” (Record) which contains summaries of witness interviews and documents. The investigator sends the Record to the Complainant and Respondent for review and comment. The parties may ask the investigator to conduct additional investigation or to ask specific questions of the other party or witnesses. The investigator may conduct additional investigation and write an addendum to the Record.
Determination of Title IX Jurisdiction
The investigator sends the final Record to the AAEO Director. The Director reviews the Record and determines, in part, whether the matter is subject to Title IX jurisdiction. As of August 14, 2020, there is Title IX jurisdiction if a matter involves sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, gender-based stalking, and certain forms of sexual exploitation, which occurred on or after August 14, 2020, in a UVM educational program or activity. If there is Title IX jurisdiction, the matter is sent to the Center for Student Conduct for a Title IX Live Hearing that involves questioning of parties and witnesses. If there is not Title IX jurisdiction, the matter is sent back to the AAEO investigator to write a Report of Investigation.
Title IX Live Hearing
If the matter is subject to Title IX jurisdiction, the Center for Student Conduct will facilitate a live hearing. The hearing will be conducted in accordance with the Hearing Procedures for Title IX Offenses Involving Student Respondents. Complainants and Respondents will bring (or be assigned) a Hearing Advisor. In the hearing, the hearing Adjudicator goes first and may ask questions of the parties and witnesses. After, each Hearing Advisor may ask questions of the parties and witnesses. The Adjudicator will issue a written decision letter.
If the Adjudicator determines there was a violation of the Policy, the Adjudicator will include sanctions in the decision letter. If the Adjudicator determines there was no violation of policy, either party may appeal the finding to the Dean of Students.
Non-Title IX Report
If the matter is not subject to Title IX jurisdiction, the AAEO Investigator will write a “Non-Title IX Investigation Report” (Report). The written report will set forth findings of fact, a determination of responsibility, and the rationale. The investigator will send a copy of the Report to both parties.
If there is a finding that the Respondent violated the policy, the UVM Center for Student Conduct holds a sanctioning meeting. The Sanctioning Official will issue a written letter with the sanction. Either party may appeal this decision to the Dean of Students.
If there is no finding of policy violation, either party may appeal to the Dean of Students.
Ongoing support measures are available to both parties at the conclusion of the investigation.
What changes has UVM made in response to the new Title IX regulation, effective August 14, 2020?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits recipients of federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender. The United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a federal regulation with new Title IX compliance requirements, effective August 14, 2020.
Changes to UVM policy and procedures are summarized below:
- The regulation changes the investigation process for some reports of sexual harassment and misconduct - including on-campus conduct. Sexual harassment, gender-based stalking, relationship violence, and sexual assault that occurs on or after August 14, 2020, in the context of the “education program or activity” will be addressed according to the requirements of the new regulation, as reflected in UVM Policy and Procedure. According to the regulation, this includes “locations, events, or circumstances” where UVM exercises control, including on-campus and on property owned or controlled by recognized student organizations.
The regulation requires a specific investigation and hearing process to resolve reports of conduct that occur on-campus or otherwise in the context of the "education program or activity." The hearing includes the ability of the parties, through an advisor, to pose questions to the other party and witnesses. The questioning will be moderated by a Hearing Officer to ensure appropriate conduct, and the hearings may be conducted virtually. The Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO) will provide hearing advisors to the parties where they have not independently secured an advisor of their own choosing. See Hearing Procedures for Title IX Offenses Involving Student Respondents - Interim and Hearing Procedures for Title IX Offenses Involving Employee Respondents – Interim.
- Students and employees should continue to report sexual misconduct to UVM's AAEO and/or UVM Police Services, regardless of whether the conduct was on-campus or off-campus. UVM will continue to investigate and resolve reports of off-campus sexual harassment or misconduct. The investigation process is consistent with previously existing procedures for sexual harassment and misconduct, and AAEO will continue to conduct these investigations. See Handling and Resolving Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Complaints - Interim. Sanctions for non-Title IX cases will be assessed by the Center for Student Conduct, as detailed in Handling and Resolving Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Complaints - Interim, or through appropriate employment processes for employee respondents.
- No practical changes have been made to the responsibilities of UVM Reporters when they receive a disclosure of sexual harassment or misconduct. See Designation and Responsibilities of UVM Reporters.
- UVM is maintaining the “preponderance of evidence” standard that applies to all conduct matters when rendering determinations of whether a policy has been violated.
- UVM is expanding the scope and structure of its alternative resolution process, as detailed in the AAEO procedures. The updated procedures provide flexibility to consider alternative resolution in appropriate circumstances. Alternative resolution is designed to be flexible to respond to the needs of the parties and the unique circumstances of every case. The alternative resolution process seeks to repair harm, educate, and prevent reoccurance of misconduct without rendering an institutional policy decision. Participation in the alternative resolution process is completely voluntary for both parties, and is initiated by the complainant. At any time before a resolution agreement between the parties is reached, either party can decide to stop the alternative resolution process and seek formal investigation.
Questions? Please contact:
Nick Stanton: Director, UVM Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity
Taryn Moran: Title IX Intake & Outreach Coordinator
The information in this FAQ response is for the purposes of an informational summary only and should not be interpreted in a manner inconsistent with the requirements of UVM policy and procedure or federal requirements.
Will my parents find out?
Will the police find out?
The University takes incidents of sexual misconduct very seriously, and strongly encourages you to make a full report to police and to the AAEO Office to ensure the University's ability to take strong responsive action. Federal law requires University police to track statistics for certain types of crimes, including sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence. If you tell anyone who works for the University about one of these crimes, they will have to let the police know that the incident occurred, and where it occurred. However, they do not have to share your name or other identifying information with the police if you do not want them to (the exception being reports of recent or ongoing stalking or relationship violence). If you make a report to a University employee and want to remain anonymous, you should let them know that you do not want them to share your name with the police.
How is an AAEO/Title IX Investigation different from a Police Investigation? Individuals can choose to report sexual misconduct to police, to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, to both, or to neither. The result of an AAEO/Title IX investigation can be student sanctions when a policy violation is found to have occurred, including and up to dismissal. As noted above, if preferred by the complainant, AAEO can facilitate the alternative resolution of reports of sexual misconduct, where appropriate.Individuals reporting to police can choose to participate in a criminal investigation process, which can lead to criminal charges. Additionally, students can request a variety of measures such as a Relief from Abuse Order.
Will my report be public?
If you make a report to police, your case is exempt from the Vermont Public Records Act while it is under investigation, and information that you share with police will not be made public. However, it will become a public record after the investigation is complete. That does not mean that the police will put identifying information about you and your case in a public place; it just means that if someone specifically requested information about your case, the police would probably have to give it to them once the investigation is complete. If your case results in criminal charges, the affidavit used to charge the perpetrator is also a public record, and anyone can request a copy from the court.
If you make an internal complaint to AAEO, student records are private, and cannot be shared outside of the University without your permission. Employee records related to discipline are also generally private and exempt from public records requests. However, students, staff, or faculty who are accused of sexual misconduct are entitled to a copy of any resulting investigative reports, because they have the right to see all of the information related to the charges against them. While the University can advise the accused to keep the information private, it cannot guarantee that s/he (or others that s/he may share it with) will do so. The University can and will inform the respondent not to retaliate against anyone who makes a report of sexual misconduct, or participates in the investigative process as a witness. This means that if the accused were to use the information in the report in a retaliatory way, it would likely result in additional charges and disciplinary action.
What if I am worried about retaliation?
Retaliation is strictly prohibited by UVM policy and any report of retaliation is taken very seriously. AAEO staff is available to discuss retaliation concerns with community members and UVM is able to take steps in response. Examples include safety planning, no-contact orders, and other accommodations for individuals with concerns of retaliation, as well as disclipinary charges against those engaging in retaliation.
We encourage anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct or harassment to seek support resources from AAEO. AAEO is available to help facilitate a wide range of services for the UVM community, including academic accommodations, no-contact orders, alternative resolution, and formal investigation in appropriate circumstances.
Additionally, it is important to note there is confidential support via CAPS. Many times, an advocate or counselor can help survivors of sexual misconduct to evaluate reporting options and consider the support services that are available.
If I report, do I have to provide the name of the accused?
No. You can provide as much or as little information as you choose. But providing minimal information or declining to participate in an investigation may limit the University's ability to take strong responsive action.
If I was sexually assaulted off campus, can I still make a report?
Yes. You can always make a criminal report, no matter where the incident happened. UVM Police Services can help you figure out which police agency to report to if you want to make a criminal report.
- If the incident occurred off campus and the perpetrator is a UVM student, faculty, or staff member, UVM can still conduct an internal investigation, in addition to or instead of a criminal investigation, if you desire.
- If the incident occurred off campus and the perpetrator is in no way affiliated with the University, the University will still offer a full range of support and services, including counseling, changes to class schedules or assignments, or assisting with measures that would prohibit the perpetrator from coming to campus if you believe that s/he will continue to threaten or harass you. These services are available to you whether or not you decide to make a criminal report.
What should I expect if I have been accused of sexual misconduct?
If there is a formal complaint against you, the AAEO investigator will send you a notice letter, via your UVM email account, outlining the accusations and identifying the complainant. The AAEO investigator is a neutral third-party fact finder, and does not represent you or the complainant. His/her job is solely to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, and to determine whether or not a University policy violation occurred. UVM's investigation process is available at this link.
The notice letter you receive will invite you to contact the investigator for a meeting. At your meeting with the investigator, you will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations, identify witnesses, evidence, or other information that you think might be important, and ask any questions that you may have. You can bring a support person of your choice with you to the meeting if you choose.
While you are encouraged to meet with the AAEO investigator, so that you can provide any information you are aware of that might be helpful to a thorough and impartial investigation, you are not required to do so. If you prefer, you can send any information or materials you wish to provide in writing (via electronic or regular mail). You may also choose not to participate in the AAEO process at all, which means that you can decline to meet with the investigator and to provide any written or other materials. Keep in mind, though, that if you decide not to participate at all, the final report will only include the testimony and evidence provided by the complainant and other witnesses, and your testimony will not be considered in making a determination of whether or not a policy violation occurred.
This information is only a summary - AAEO staff are available to answer questions about process. Please note that UVM's process for investigation, hearings, and sanctioning are available at this link.
If I make a complaint to police or to AAEO, will someone be available to help me with the process?
Support resources can be found at the Support Resources webpage, including HOPE Works, which hosts a 24/7 hotline. Additionally, AAEO's Intake and Outreach Coordinator is available at 802-656-3368 to provide information about the AAEO process and support services. In some cases, AAEO is able to facilitate interim measures designed to support students and employees. AAEO's Intake and Outreach Coordinator is not a confidential or advocacy-based resource.
If I have been accused of sexual misconduct, will someone be available to help me with the process?
UVM has several AAEO Process Advisors. The Advisors are specially-trained faculty and staff members who are very familiar with UVM's sexual misconduct policies and procedures, and who volunteer their time to help UVM affiliates navigate the student or employee investigation and conduct processes related to sexual misconduct. The Advisors serve people of all genders and identities, and their services are completely free of charge. In the event that you have criminal charges pending related to the incident for which AAEO has contacted you, the following may be helpful: Students: Student Legal Services (SLS) is a student-run organization, funded by the Student Government Association, which aids students on campus with legal problems.
Does it cost anything to make a report?
No. Making a report to the police and/or internally to the AAEO office is completely free.
Can I still receive services and support if I decide not to pursue a criminal or internal investigation?
Yes. The University will still offer a full range of support and services, even if you decide not to make a formal report. The counseling center is available to provide support, and the University will provide interim measures in appropriate cases, like changes to class schedules/assignments, room/housing relocation, or issuing "no contact" orders. These supports and services are available to you whether or not you decide to pursue a criminal or internal investigation. If you are interested ininterim measures, please contact AAEO.
Will it be on my student record if I make a report? If I am accused?
The University maintains records on all student conduct processes to comply with a variety of laws and regulations. Generally, these records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and cannot be released to anyone without your authorization.
You should be aware that FERPA makes exceptions allowing educational institutions to share information about students with each other. For example, another college or university that you apply to as a transfer or graduate student may ask the University for information about your student conduct record. If you have been accused of and/or found responsible for a sexual misconduct violation, the University will likely disclose that information to the other educational institution upon request.
Colleges and universities generally do not ask for information about whether you have made a report of sexual misconduct. While the University must maintain records of complaints to ensure compliance with a number of laws and regulations, is very unlikely that information related to making a complaint of sexual misconduct would be disclosed to anyone without your authorization.
I think I was sexually assaulted, but I was drunk when it happened, and I'm not 21. Will I get in trouble for drinking if I report the sexual assault?
No. As a general rule, UVM does not pursue student conduct violations related to drug use or to underage drinking against victims, perpetrators, or witnesses who cooperate in a sexual misconduct investigation. There are some exceptions; for example, if a perpetrator intentionally uses drugs or alcohol to subdue a victim, s/he can and will be held accountable.