Subject of a Report Information

If you are accused of misconduct, you are entitled to a fair investigation and hearing process, as well as support for your concerns related to being accused and resources to guide you through the complaint process.

Below is information related to the resolution process for complaints against students. If you are an employee, information about the resolution process can be found in the Policy.

If you do not see an answer to your question below, please reach out to the Title IX Coordinator.

I received a No Contact Directive. What does that mean?

A No Contact Directive (NCD) is a University administrative directive that instructs a student not to have any contact, either direct or indirect, with another student. "Contact" includes, but is not necessarily limited to, in-person contact, telephone calls, email, texts and other forms of electronic communication, social media-based messages or postings, and third party communications through proxies.

A NCD is not intended to be punitive. It is intended to keep all involved students safe and to prevent escalation of a situation. A standard NCD does not restrict a person's movement on campus, and it is mutual, meaning that all parties are expected to abide by the terms.

The issuance of a No Contact Directive is not an indication that the University has determined an individual has violated University Policy. The NCD will remain in place until the directive expires, or the terms are modified. 

Failure to comply with a NCD will subject the violator to a range of possible measures, including discipline from the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, other administrative measures, or referral for a formal conduct charge.

What information will I receive about the complaint?

If a formal investigation into a complaint received against you will be conducted, you will receive a notice of investigation letter from the Title IX Coordinator notifying you about the complaint. That letter will tell you the following information, if known:

  • The complainant's name
  • The specific policy violation alleged
  • Date(s) of the alleged policy violation(s)
  • Approximate time(s) of the alleged policy violation(s)
  • Location(s) of alleged policy violation(s)
  • Brief description of allegation(s)

This letter will also invite you to a meeting with the Title IX Coordinator to discuss the investigative process and resources available to you..

Who determines the outcome of the student investigation and hearing process?

The Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board (HSMB) is the body that determines whether the Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy was violated, and if so, administers sanctions against a respondent.

Upon completion of the investigation, the HSMB Chair evaluates the complaint to determine whether a charge of misconduct should be issued. If a charge is issued, a panel of three members of the HSMB will be selected to thoroughly review the evidence, hold a hearing, and reach a decision.

You will have the opportunity to object to the appointment of any of the panel members on the basis of suspected, bias, conflict of interest, or an inability to be fair and impartial.

Can I have an advisor?

Yes. Both parties have the right to have advisors present at all phases of the process.

You have the right to choose either a Staff Advisor or a Hearing Advisor:

  • Staff Advisor=W&L staff who have been trained to provide support and advice.
  • Hearing Advisor=law and undergraduate students who have been trained to provide support and advice.

In addition, you have the right to one Advisor of Choice. An Advisor of Choice can be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other supporter you have chosen to advise you. Advisors of Choice are not trained by the University.

Advisors may....

  • Advise of applicable procedures, including the appeal process, if applicable.
  • Offer support
  • Provide information on additional resources
  • Accompany you to all meetings
  • Assist you in preparing for meetings

Advisors may not...

  • Present evidence at an investigative meeting or at the hearing
  • Verbally question witnesses during the hearing.

What happens during the post Notice of Investigation Letter meeting with the Title IX Coordinator?

The meeting with the Title IX Coordinator after receiving a notice of investigation letter is NOT an investigative meeting. You will not be asked any questions about the incident giving rise to the complaint. Instead, it is a meeting to discuss the process and resources available to you and to answer any questions you may have about the process and next steps.

The Title IX Coordinator will discuss:

  • The investigation and hearing process
  • The presumption of non-responsibility and the standard of proof needed to find a violation of policy
  • Your rights and responsibilities during the process
  • The role and identity of the investigators
  • The role of advisors
  • Supportive and protective interim measures
  • Any interim measures already implemented that may impact you (ex. no contact directives)
  • Prohibition against retaliation
  • The University's amnesty policy for personal consumption of alcohol/drug use
  • Potential sanctions that could be imposed if the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board determines a policy violation occurred
  • Availability of disability accommodations during the investigative and hearing process

What happens after the meeting with the Title IX Coordinator?

You will be provided time to obtain and meet with your advisors. The assigned investigators will contact you to schedule an investigative interview.

What supportive interim measures are available to me?

You have the right to request and to receive appropriate supportive interim measures. The Title IX Coordinator will ensure that the interim measures are implemented in a prompt, fair, and equitable manner. Some examples of supportive measures include academic assistance, assistance with scheduling counseling appointments, and changes to work schedules.

Do I have to participate during the investigation?

Neither party is required to participate in the investigation. If a party chooses not to participate in an investigation, the investigation and hearing may still proceed based on the information available. If you do not participate during the investigation, you cannot provide information at a hearing that could have been provided during an investigation. If you did not participate in an investigation, you would be able to ask questions of the complainant or any witnesses present at the hearing, but you would not be able to respond to questions or provide any statements to the hearing panel.

What happens during the interview with the investigators?

Two investigators will be present during the interview. Investigative interviews are recorded to assist the investigators with taking effective notes. The investigators will ask about what happened in specific detail. They also will request the names of witnesses and other evidence that you might have, such as text messages, emails and photos.

You have the right to have your advisors present with you during the interview. While your advisors cannot provide information during the interview, you can request a recess to consult with your advisors when needed.

The investigators will type up the interview. The written version of the interview is sent to you so you can review to ensure that the information is correct; add additional information; or provide additional clarification or explanation.

What happens after my interview with the investigators?

The investigators will continue their investigation based on the information you provided.

The investigators will prepare a written report that summarizes the information gathered and synthesizes the areas of agreement and disagreement between the parties and any supporting information.The investigators are not decision-makers and do not make any conclusions about whether a policy violation occurred.

You and your advisors will have the opportunity to review a draft of the investigation report. You may submit any additional comments, request changes, or request further investigation from the investigation team. The investigators will make changes to the investigation report based on those comments and will then submit the report to the designated Chair of the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board for the specific matter. The Chair of the HSMB will determine whether to issue a charge of misconduct.

What type of information is gathered during an investigation?

In addition to the statements of the parties, the following is a nonexhaustive list of the information that the investigators may collect, if relevant and available, during an investigation:

  • Witness statements
  • Photographs
  • Text messages, chat, social media, and similar materials
  • Recordings
  • Transcripts and other performance evaluations
  • Medical records (only upon voluntary written consent)
  • Police reports
  • The investigative team or HSMB may also visit the location(s) where the incident(s) occurred to better understand the information gathered in the course of investigation

What happens if there is a charge of misconduct?

A charge will be issued if it is plausible and more than a sheer possibility that the Complainant's factual allegations could constitute a violation of this policy. In making this inquiry, the Chair will not evaluate credibility; the allegations of the Complainant will be accepted to be true.

If there is a charge of misconduct, you will receive access to the investigation report and all information collected by the investigators during the investigation, including all notes from interviews with witnesses and parties, for your review and further comment. A pre-hearing conference is held with the Chair of the HSMB where any requested changes will be discussed.

Will I have access to the materials that the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board (HSMB) uses in reaching its conclusions?

Yes. Both parties will have the opportunity to respond to all information gathered by the investigation team. In addition, each party will have the opportunity to reveiw and comment on the investigation report.

What happens at a hearing before the HSMB?

The HSMB hearing panel will review the investigation report prior to the hearing.

The parties both have the option to give an opening statement to the HSMB hearing panel.

After the opening statements, the HSMB hearing panel may question the complainant, the respondent, any witnesses called, and/or the investigators, and examine related information and evidence. The parties may submit written questions to the Chair of the HSMB to ask on their behalf to the relevant party or witness.

After questioning has been completed, both parties have the option to give a closing statement to the hearing panel.

What is the standard of proof?

In order to determine that a student has violated the University Policy the standard of proof required is a preponderance of the evidence, i.e., the evidence demonstrates that it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred.  It is often described as needing at least a 51% likelihood that the policy violation occurred.

What are the potential sanctions that could be imposed?

  • Dismissal
  • Suspension (the HSMB can impose conditions for reinstatement to the University)
  • Loss of privileges (will be tailored to the circumstances of the specific case, but can include denial of the right to participate in certain activities or use certain facilities)
  • Change in on-campus residence
  • Change in academic schedule
  • Counseling consultation
  • Required education
  • Probation

Will a Title IX investigation be part of my academic record?

Affirmative findings of responsibility in matters resolved through a HSMB hearing are part of a student's conduct record. Such records will be used in reviewing any further conduct or in developing sanctions and will remain a part of a student's conduct record. In general, the University will maintain records for the duration of the respondent's relationship with the University, and may retain them for no less than seven (7) years following the respondent's departure from the University.

Virginia law requires that a prominent notation be added to the academic transcript of any student who is suspended for, permanently dismissed for, or withdraws from the University while under investigation for an offense involving sexual violence.  In cases of suspension and dismissal this transcript notation will read: "[Suspended or Dismissed] for a violation of W&L's set of standards." In cases of withdrawal, the notation will read: "Withdrew while under investigation for a violation of W&L's set of standards. This withdrawal as noted does not constitute a finding or admission of responsibility on the part of the student." The University shall remove from a student's academic transcript any notation placed on such transcript due to a student's suspension if the student (1) completed the term of the suspension and (2) is eligible to apply for reinstatement.

Will the University tell my parents or guardians about the report against me?

No. However, the University encourages students to inform their parents or guardians to obtain support.

How long does the investigation and hearing process take?

Generally, you can expect the process to follow these time frames:

  • An investigation will be completed within thirty calendar days
  • A charge decision will be made within two calendar days
  • The hearing will be held within fourteen calendar days of the charge

If these timeframes need to be extended, the parties will be notified in writing of the reason for the delay and the expected adjustment. The timeframe may vary depending on the complexity of the investigation, the severity and extent of the allegations, the number of witnesses, and the possibility of interruption by break periods.

Status updates on the progress of the complaint are available.