FAQs for Responding Parties in Complaints of Sexual Assault, Dating or Domestic Violence, or Stalking

For Responding Parties in Complaints of Sexual Assault, Dating or Domestic Violence, or Stalking

The Student Non-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy provides an opportunity to seek redress for harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence.  The Student Sex- or Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Resources and Response Procedures are used to determine whether an incident constitutes a violation of this policy. Colgate offers many types of support, before, during and after a report or complaint is filed for all involved. We encourage all members of our community to reach out.

a. What is the Prohibited Conduct Response Group (PCRG)?

The Prohibited Conduct Response Group (PCRG) plays an important role in the implementation of the policy and process used to address complaints of harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence. PCRG members are an informal source of advice and referral for those who wish to discuss their concerns as a responding party to a complaint. PCRG members undergo annual training on Colgate’s policy and procedures as well as issues related to sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, impartiality, and the rights of Complainants and Respondents (including the right to a presumption that the Respondent is “not responsible” until a finding of responsibility is made), as well as how to conduct a fair and impartial investigation and a hearing process that protect the safety of all parties and promote accountability. They serve on hearing panels as well as appellate panels in cases of sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, or stalking.

b. What's the difference between the student conduct board and a PCRG hearing?

The Student Conduct Board hears cases involving potential violations of the Code of Student Conduct, the Academic Honor Code, the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, the Policy on Hazing, and various other policies. A PCRG hearing is only used in cases involving possible violations of the University's Student Non-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy. Students serve on the Student Conduct Board along with faculty and staff, but there are no students on the PCRG.

c. What's the difference between a report and a complaint?

A report lets Colgate know that an incident occurred and allows us to provide supportive measures to the reporting individual. A complaint allows the reporting individual to move forward with a case that will be investigated and addressed through the Student Sex- or Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment and Sexual  Misconduct Resources and Response Procedures. In some cases, the information provided in a report will require Colgate to act even absent a complaint, where the information provided indicates a risk to the community.

Listen and be there for them. Let them know that they are not alone and that you support them. Supportive friends are oftentimes very helpful at any stage of the investigative and adjudicative process. You can offer to go with your friend to a confidential resource, or request information from the Title IX Coordinator and Equity and Diversity Officer, a Prohibited Conduct Response Group (PCRG) member, or an Administrative Dean. You can read through the response procedures with them, and help make sure that they can stay connected to friends and activities.

There is no time limit, but the passage of time can make details and investigations more challenging.

See Sexual Misconduct Response Procedures Section VII A.

Any member of the community can ask the Title IX Coordinator and Equity and Diversity Officer or a Prohibited Conduct Response Group (PCRG) member to explain the policy or process and talk through “what if’s” without disclosing an actual incident (if they are not prepared to do so). PCRG members can be an important resource for students who want information on the investigation and adjudication process or what a PCRG hearing is like, and can serve as advisors to students who are party to an investigation and/or hearing if the party so chooses. PCRG members receive annual in-depth training on issues of sexual violence, sexual harassment and discriminatory harassment, impartiality, and the rights of  Complainants and Respondents (including the right to a presumption that the Respondent is "not responsible" until a finding of responsibility is made), as well as how to conduct a fair and impartial investigation and a hearing process that protect the safety of all parties and promote accountability. Oftentimes, students will make an appointment (without sharing the reason) to get more information that they can share with a friend, or just ask questions to understand the process and understand options. Appointments can be made by calling or e-mailing and you can always bring a support person with you. If you're more comfortable reading: Full Policy | Process.

Filing a complaint with Colgate is not the same as going to the police, and the criminal process is separate from the University process. We encourage any member of the community who believes that a crime has been committed to report it to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, but that decision is up to the reporting individual.

You will receive regular updates on where we are in the process, and you may also reach out at any time if you have questions as to the status of your case. We do our best to complete an investigation within 90 days, but sometimes that is not possible. For example, if a complaint is made near the end of a semester, the process may have to carry over to the next semester. If there is a hearing, you will learn the results of the hearing within a couple of business days.

There are several options for confidential support:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services: 315-228-7385. After hours, call Campus Safety at 315-228-7333 and ask to talk with the counselor-on-call. No further explanation is needed.
  • Student Health Services: 315-228-7750. After hours and for emergencies, contact Campus Safety at 315-228-7911.
  • University Chaplains: 315-228-7682 during business hours, garden level of the Chapel.

Oftentimes students have reached out to their friends, organization leaders, Links, trusted faculty, administrative advisers, counseling, health services, and the chaplaincy. You can ask the Title IX Coordinator and Equity and Diversity Officer or any PCRG member questions about the policy and process. Your administrative dean  can work with you on academic deadlines, housing accommodations, appeals of no contact orders, requests for review of supportive measures, and other arrangements you may need under the circumstances.

See Sexual Misconduct Response Procedures Sections VI and IX.

You will be contacted by a PCRG investigator and notified of the nature of the allegations (including details such as the facts alleged to have occurred, as well as the time and place of the alleged incidents if available) prior to your first interview. You have the right to be accompanied by an adviser of choice throughout the investigative and adjudicative process, including at any interview. During the investigation, which is an impartial fact-finding process, the parties will have an equal opportunity to share information and request that witnesses be interviewed. You may be asked to write out your statement in your own words, speaking in detail about what you recall from the incident. Usually, the investigator will need to ask some questions at that time and ask clarifying questions at other times during the investigation.

If a hearing is scheduled, you and the other party may be asked questions by the panel members who, like the investigators, have also been trained in trauma-informed approaches. The advisors for both parties ask questions of the other party and witnesses.  However, before the party or witness answers a question posed by an advisor, the chair of the hearing panel first determines if the question is relevant, and will limit or disallow questions on the basis that they are irrelevant, unduly repetitious (and thus irrelevant), or abusive.

See Sexual Misconduct Response Procedures Section XIV. B-D

No. Students do not serve on the panel that hears and decides cases of alleged sexual misconduct. Since a reporting or responding party may have anyone accompany them as their advisor of choice, a fellow student could potentially serve as an advisor to a student, although this is not common.

This is a decision that we can’t make for you. Some people who have been the subject of a complaint have engaged a lawyer, but others have not. However, the hearing process includes questioning of the parties and witnesses by the parties' advisors. Therefore, at the conclusion of the investigation into a complaint and upon the request of a party, the university will appoint, without fee or charge to that party, an advisor of the university's choice who will be a licensed attorney to assist that party from and after the investigative stage of the process, and for any subsequent hearing, resolution without a hearing and/or appeal(s).

See Sexual Misconduct Response Procedures Sections XII. D. and XIV. C.

In some cases a criminal investigation may occur as the result of an incident, and in that context it is advisable to retain counsel. See #1, above.

The standard of proof used in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault is “the preponderance of the evidence,” or more likely than not. This standard of proof is lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt” or “clear and convincing evidence.” The initial presumption is that the responding individual is “not responsible.” Then, the evidence presented is assessed and a determination is made as to whether it is more likely than not that a policy violation has occurred. If the hearing panel members determine that it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred, then an appropriate sanction is imposed.

Your family would usually be notified if you are placed on emergency removal prior to a hearing. Your family would also usually be notified if a sanction of suspension or expulsion is imposed as a result of a hearing. Otherwise, it is up to you to decide whether you want to tell your family.

A no contact order is issued when a student brings forward a concern regarding interactions with another student and requests that the student have no further avoidable contact with them. The no contact order is not a disciplinary action and does not appear on a student’s academic record, but it is designed to provide a measure of relief for a student who wishes to maintain distance from another student both inside and outside of class. A no contact order cannot guarantee that the individuals will not encounter one another on Colgate’s campus, but it does establish parameters for those encounters in terms of distance and communication. The parties are each afforded the opportunity for a prompt review of the need for supportive measures, including the potential modification of these measures. The parties are each allowed to submit evidence in support of, or in opposition to, the request. If a no contact order is in place, any alleged violations of the no contact order are investigated. If a violation is substantiated, further restrictions may be imposed and/or disciplinary action may be warranted.

Yes. The criminal process is separate from the University's own investigative and adjudicative process, and both processes can occur simultaneously. The University may, but is not be obligated to, delay the institution of its response procedures when criminal charges are being investigated; however, by law the delay will not last more than ten calendar days except when law enforcement authorities specifically request and justify a longer delay. If you are the subject of a criminal complaint, it is in your best interest to consult legal counsel promptly (regardless of whether you engage a lawyer as your advisor in the University process [see #10, above]).

Yes, an informal resolution process is possible if both parties consent to use it. The informal resolution process is a voluntary process in which a trained facilitator assists the parties in resolving the allegations made by a Complainant. An informal resolution prioritizes educational and conciliatory approaches over more adversarial contestation of the facts. One objective of the informal resolution process is to provide both parties an opportunity to learn and understand each other's concerns and address them as collaboratively and usefully for the parties as possible, with the assistance of the facilitator. Informal resolution may include discipline, up to and including expulsion, if the parties agree.

The informal resolution process may also be used if the Respondent wishes to accept responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations. If so, the informal resolution process can be used to determine whether all parties and the university are able to agree on sanctions and/or remedies.

If an informal resolution process does not result in an agreed-upon resolution, then the formal investigation and resolution process will proceed from there.

See Sexual Misconduct Response Procedures Section XI.

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Haven is a sexual violence resource center that provides confidential care, support, advocacy, and trauma-informed clinical services for survivors.