Title IX Frequently Asked Questions
USU is committed to maintaining an educational and working environment free from discrimination and harassment, including maintaining an environment in which no student, faculty or staff member is excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of its programs and activities as a result of one’s gender. The university has an obligation to take immediate and effective steps to eliminate discrimination (including gender discrimination and sexual misconduct), prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. At USU, we aim to reduce the occurrence of sexual misconduct on campus by creating a community that does not tolerate it.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination at institutions that receive financial assistance from the federal government. Sexual misconduct – including sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence (dating and domestic violence), and stalking – is a form of sex discrimination and is prohibited by Title IX and by USU. The university is obligated to take prompt and effective steps to end sexual misconduct and sex discrimination when it occurs, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.
What is sexual misconduct?
Sexual misconduct is a broad non-legal term encompassing gender discrimination, sexual harassment (including online harassment), stalking, relationship violence (dating and domestic violence), and sexual assault (either penetration or sexual contact without consent). Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender, and it can occur between people of the same or different genders.
Using this term serves to differentiate campus policy processes, which are administrative and educational, from the criminal justice system, in which people are charged with crimes that carry criminal penalties. Sexual misconduct by students, staff, faculty, and other academic personnel violates USU policy (USU policies 339 and 305) and is not tolerated.
To report sexual misconduct, or to reach out to the Title IX Coordinator for information regarding supportive measures, contact the Office of Equity (Title IX).
What is the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment?
Under Title IX law, sexual assault is a form of sexual harassment. Sexual assault is a criminal offense and is any type of sexual contact that occurs without the consent of the recipient. It can range from touching the intimate parts of another person’s body to penetration.
Unlike sexual assault, sexual harassment is not a criminal offense, but it is prohibited by USU policy and state and federal law. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that:
- creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning or working environment or
- submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or status as a student or
- submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions (quid pro quo).
What are the reporting obligations of USU staff, faculty and other academic appointees?
Most USU employees, except those designated as confidential services, are required to report any disclosures of sexual misconduct or incidents they witness to the USU Title IX Coordinator.
Staff who have significant responsibility for student and campus activities – such as student involvement staff, Housing and Residence Life staff, campus security, and USU Police – are also designated as Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) under the Federal Clery Act. They have an additional obligation to report criminal offenses, hate crimes, and arrests and referrals for disciplinary action that occur on campus to USU Police.
Is there a time limit for making a report to Title IX?
There is no time limit for making reports to the Office of Equity (Title IX), but reporting as soon as possible after an incident gives the Office of Equity (Title IX) a better chance to respond promptly and effectively. After a significant amount of time has passed, it may be extremely difficult to gather evidence or find witnesses.
What is the difference between reporting to the Title IX Coordinator and reporting to police?
A Title IX investigation is an administrative process to determine if a member of the campus community (student, staff, or faculty) has violated university policy. The standard of evidence used in USU's Title IX process is a "preponderance of evidence," meaning the incident is more likely than not to have happened. If someone is found responsible for violating university policy, they could face administrative sanctions, including suspension or expulsion, which limit or prevent them from being part of the USU community but do not carry legal consequences.
If someone wishes to hold another legally accountable for their actions, they could pursue a criminal justice case by reporting the crime to a police department. Criminal procedures use "beyond a reasonable doubt" as their standard of evidence, which is higher than the “preponderance of evidence” standard used in the USU Title IX process.
What can an individual expect if an incident is reported to the Title IX Coordinator on their behalf?
When a responsible employee reports a disclosure they received to the Title IX Coordinator, the coordinator contacts the individual who experienced the misconduct to talk about options in the Title IX process and supportive measures available to them. The Title IX Coordinator will also take requests from the claimant for confidentiality (meaning that they don’t want their name connected to the incident or report) or that no investigation or disciplinary action be pursued. These requests are evaluated in the context of the university's responsibility to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment. If a claimant declines any involvement, the university will still assess campus safety with the information available, but may be limited in its ability to investigate the incident.
If an individual contacts Title IX, does that automatically begin an investigation?
The Office of Equity (Title IX) focuses on providing the claimant with as much control over the process as possible. So, the claimant may request that their report remain private (meaning that their name won’t be connected to the report) or that no investigation or disciplinary action be pursued. The Office of Equity (Title IX) will evaluate those requests in the context of the university's responsibility to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment. If it is possible to honor the wishes of the claimant, the Office of Equity (Title IX) may still be able to offer them supportive measures. If there is a continuing safety risk to campus, the Office of Equity (Title IX) may move forward with an investigation.
Who does the Office of Equity (Title IX) share information with?
Both Title IX and the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) ensure the university does not share student information, including Title IX reporting information, outside of necessary USU staff.
This means that the Office of Equity (Title IX) keeps information private but may share some information with specific USU employees when it is necessary to investigate an incident or provide an individual with supportive measures, as well as with others in administration who may need to know about the incident. If there is a continuing safety risk to campus, the Office of Equity (Title IX) may share information with USU Police in order to issue a timely warning notice, in accordance with the Clery Act. Timely warnings are a way to let the USU community know about certain crimes that have happened on campus, but do not include information that would identify a victim.
Does USU provide amnesty if student code violations are discovered when reporting to the Office of Equity (Title IX)?
Yes, if you report an incident of sexual misconduct to the Office of Equity (Title IX) or the police, you will not be subject to university disciplinary action for a university policy violation, such as underage drinking. Read more about USU’s amnesty policy.
What standard of evidence is used during a Title IX investigation? Why is that standard used?
The standard of evidence used in USU's Title IX process is a "preponderance of evidence," meaning a policy violation is more likely than not to have occurred. This is different from a criminal procedure, which uses "beyond a reasonable doubt" as their standard of evidence. The preponderance of evidence standard is used for all student and employee conduct processes. This is also the same standard used in most civil lawsuits.
How long does a Title IX investigation typically take?
An investigation typically takes 60 days, but the length may be extended when there are extenuating circumstances, such as an ongoing criminal investigation. During this time, the Office of Equity (Title IX) offers supportive measures to help individuals as they deal with the stress of an incident and the investigation process.
What if the person who assaulted or harassed is not a part of the USU campus community?
If the perpetrator of an incident is not part of the campus community (i.e. they aren’t a student, staff, faculty, visiting scholar, etc.), the university does not have authority to investigate the individual or impose any disciplinary action. However, USU still offers those who have experienced sexual misconduct with confidential resources and supportive measures regardless of the perpetrator’s identity.
Will the information I share with Title IX remain confidential?
“Confidential” means that information shared by an individual cannot be revealed to any other person – or university office – without the express permission of the individual, except as permitted by law (Student Code definitions). Though someone can request privacy when reporting an incident to the Office of Equity (Title IX), the office may not be able to honor their request if there is an ongoing threat to campus safety. The Office of Equity (Title IX) may also share information with other USU employees if there is a need for them to know that information.
If you want your information to remain confidential, learn more about accessing confidential resources.
Find additional resources for Statewide Campuses.
Are parents informed about a Title IX report when the student is under 18?
No, when a student turns 18 years old or enters a university institution at any age, the rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) transfer from the parents to the student.