Dean’s Panel Guidelines: Sexual Misconduct

Background

In cases of sexual misconduct, a Dean’s Panel may be convened after an adequate, reliable and impartial investigation.

When an allegation against a student is brought to the attention of the Dean of the College or her designee, the College investigator will conduct a thorough investigation, and present to that individual (hereinafter referred to as “the Convening Dean”) the findings. These findings may include a recommendation as to whether a suspicion of violation, and thus a Dean’s Panel, is warranted, although the final decision is at the discretion of the Convening Dean in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator where appropriate. At the conclusion of the investigation, the involved parties will be notified of the outcome of the investigation, and whether a Dean’s Panel is being convened. The investigation will normally be concluded within 60 days of receipt of the allegation and if extended time is necessary, the parties will be notified.


Convening a Panel

  • If the Convening Dean makes a determination that, in fact, a Dean’s Panel is to be convened, s/he will notify the Complainant (hereinafter “the confronting party”) and the Respondent (hereinafter “the confronted party”), in writing, that a Dean’s Panel is being convened (“Dean’s Panel Notification”). The Dean’s Panel Notification will specify the violation being considered.
  • The confronting party has the right to appeal a decision not to convene a Dean’s Panel to the President of the College within 3 business days of receipt of the notification by the Convening Dean.
  • The College reserves the right to act as the confronting party in cases where the accusing individual cannot or refuses to participate as the confronting party.
  • The Convening Dean will appoint three members of the faculty or administration to comprise the Panel, one of whom will serve as the Panel Chair. The identity of these individuals will be disclosed to the Complainant and Respondent in the Dean’s Panel Notification.
  • If the Complainant or Respondent believes that a member of the Panel should be replaced due to conflict, that party must direct his or her concern to the Convening Dean within 24 hours of receipt of the Dean’s Panel Notification. A dean to whom a confronting or confronted party is currently assigned may not normally be a member of the Panel.
  • The inclusion of the specific violation being considered by the Panel in no way precludes the investigation of any additional incidents or issues that may be revealed once the process is under way. If additional incidents or issues are revealed that may require consideration by Honor Council or the Panel, The Panel Chair shall so inform the Convening Dean, who will decide if the new allegations should be addressed in a separate proceeding. If the Convening Dean decides that all violations should be addressed by the Panel then hearing the case, the parties will be given an opportunity to respond to the new violations.
  • Prior to the start of the Panel’s formal proceedings (the “hearing”), the confronting and confronted parties will have separate meetings with the Panel Chair and another Panel member to discuss the Dean’s Panel process. Each party will be consulted for availability, but the scheduling of the Panel is ultimately at the discretion of the Panel Chair. The College strives to achieve prompt resolution of all such complaints and, therefore, cannot acquiesce to all scheduling requests.
  • At their meetings, the confronted and confronting parties will each be permitted to review the statement made by the other party as part of the investigation, and requested to provide a written response delivered to the Panel Chair at least 48 hours before the Panel proceedings begin. These responses will be available to the confronted and confronting parties 24 hours prior to the proceedings, and shared with the Panel members.
  • Should a confronted party fail to appear before the Panel, the Panel may proceed in her/his absence, and s/he will be bound by any resolutions determined by the Panel. He or she will not be permitted to call witnesses, have access to their testimony, participate in developing resolutions, or appeal the Panel’s decision.

Witnesses

  • If either party desires to present witnesses, that party must submit a list of potential witnesses, with a brief description of their knowledge of the events in question, to the Panel Chair at least 24 hours prior to the beginning of the hearing. The relevance of the witnesses to the event(s) under investigation will be determined by the Chair of the Panel. Individuals whose identity and knowledge of the events were ascertained as part of the investigation may also be called, at the discretion of the Panel Chair.
  • The Panel Chair will determine whether the witnesses will be asked to present information relevant to the proceedings and whether this should be presented in person, in writing or via electronic media. Once this determination has been made, the Panel Chair will promptly contact the witnesses. Any written statement or other information provided by a witness will be available for review by both parties at the hearing. Both parties and all Panel members may pose questions to the witnesses during the proceeding if the witnesses are present.

Support Person

  • The confronting and confronted parties each have the right to a support person of their choosing.
  • The support person cannot be a witness in the proceedings.
  • The support person is a silent and non-participating presence who is there solely to observe and provide moral support during the hearing itself. This person is not to address the Panel, except to ask for a short recess if one of the parties requires some time to compose her/himself or collect his or her thoughts. The Chair of the Panel has the right at all times to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of a support person and whether the person may remain at the proceedings. Anyone agreeing to act as a support person in a Dean’s Panel must meet with the Panel Chair prior to the proceedings and sign an agreement of confidentiality. While the support person may be present to hear information, no written materials are to be shared with support people.

Timetable

  • The Dean’s Panel will normally begin its formal proceedings (the hearing) no earlier than five (5) business days and no later than fifteen (15) business days after the parties have been sent the Dean’s Panel Notification.
  • Hearing sessions may last no more than two (2) hours at a time unless all parties to the proceeding agree on an extension.
  • Once the Panel is convened, it will meet as frequently as schedules will allow until the proceedings are completed.
  • Panels may meet more than two (2) hours on any given day, but absent extenuating circumstances, may not meet for more than a total of four (4) hours in any 24-hour period.
  • A Panel should conclude its work within three (3) weeks from the first date upon which a meeting is held. If the Panel determines that more time may be needed, it may petition in writing the Convening Dean, who may approve an additional extension of no more than one (1) week.
  • If an investigation or a hearing involving a graduating senior as the confronted party is not concluded prior to Commencement, the Dean of the College will determine whether the student may participate in graduation ceremonies. The confronted party’s diploma may be withheld pending the conclusion of the Dean’s Panel and fulfillment of any resolutions, which may include the withholding of the diploma altogether.

Suspension

  • In the case of sexual misconduct where there is a concern for the safety of the community, the Dean of the College, in consultation with the Title IX coordinator and the Director of Campus Safety, will determine whether certain interim remedial measures are necessary, including, for example, temporary suspension, the issuance of a “no contact” order, a change in residence hall assignments, etc. This determination may be revisited, if appropriate, at any point during the investigation and Panel process

Formal Proceedings

  • The hearing will begin with a moment of silence, followed by introductions of all Panel members, confronted and confronting parties and any support persons.
  • Any written materials will be distributed to both parties for reference during the hearing.
  • The Panel Chair will determine the most appropriate method of questioning by Panel members and the confronting and confronted parties. The parties will not be permitted or expected to directly question one another.
  • The Panel will not permit questions from and to any party that are harassing or irrelevant, or that would otherwise unduly prolong or disrupt the proceedings.
  • The confronting party will be permitted to speak first, summarizing and/or elaborating on his/her written statement and the response of the confronted party.
  • Following the confronting party’s statement, questions may be posed by Panel members.
  • After the Panel members have asked their questions, the confronted party may ask questions, through a method determined by the Panel Chair.
  • Once all questions to the confronting party have been posed, the confronted party will be asked to speak, summarizing and/or elaborating on his/her written statement and the response from the confronting party.
  • Following the confronted party’s statement, questions may be posed by the Panel.
  • After the Panel members have asked their questions, the confronting party may ask questions of the confronted party through a method determined by the Panel Chair.
  • Following this phase, the Panel may ask any additional questions of any of the parties to the hearing.
  • At this point, any witnesses will be called in the order determined by the Panel Chair, and/or any written statements from witnesses who are not present shared with all participants.
  • Each witness will be asked to summarize her/his knowledge of the events at issue in the hearing. After this, questions may be posed, first by Panel members, then, in turn, by the confronting and confronted parties until all relevant questions have been posed.
  • Each party will be given the opportunity to make a closing statement, beginning with the confronting party.
  • At the discretion of the Panel Chair, in consultation with the Convening Dean, parties may be permitted to participate in the hearing via Skype, telephone or some other electronic means in order to ensure a prompt resolution of the complaint. Such participation will not constitute grounds for appeal.

Concluding Steps

Resolutions

  • The Panel will meet privately to reach consensus on a statement of violation of the Honor Code and/or College policy and fashion resolutions based on and appropriate to any statement of violation.
  • It should be noted that with regard to violations arising from alleged sexual harassment, including sexual violence, a student who is accused and found not responsible for the violation set forth in the Dean’s Panel Notification may still be found responsible for conduct that constitutes a “lesser” form of sexual misconduct.
  • Once the Panel has reached tentative consensus on a statement of violation and any resolutions, the Panel will inform the confronted party and the confronting party, if appropriate, in writing.
  • After the Panel informs the party or parties of a tentative resolution, there will be a break of no less than 12 hours or more than 48 hours in duration, after which the Panel will confer with the party or parties as appropriate to hear their responses/reactions to the tentative resolutions.
  • The Panel will then re-convene privately to reach consensus on the final resolutions, which will be presented to the confronted and confronting parties in writing via letter from the Panel Chair.

Appeals

  • Both parties may appeal the decision of the Dean’s Panel on procedural grounds, or based on the discovery of new evidence not previously available. If a party declines to participate in the hearing, that individual may not appeal the Panel’s decision or participate in the development of the resolutions.
  • Appeals may be made to the President of the College within seven business days of receipt of the final resolutions, and must specify the grounds.
  • A copy of the appeal must be provided in writing to the Panel Chair, who will provide a response to the procedural or evidentiary claim that accompanies the appeal to the President within five business days of receipt of the copy. This response will not be shared with the parties. The other party will be given the opportunity to respond to the appeal in a timeframe specified by the President. No other participant in the proceedings, or anyone external to the proceedings, may contact the President about the appeal. The President will normally make a decision on the appeal within ten business days of receipt of the Panel Chair’s response. The President may modify the statement of violation and/or the resolutions in any way. The results of the appeal will be shared with both parties.

Recordkeeping

  • A report by the Chair of the Panel will be provided to the Dean of the College, to include the names of the parties, the charge (original and, if relevant, as amended), the names of witnesses, the names of Panel members, the timeline for the proceedings, the finding of violation or non-violation and the resolutions, if any.

General Policies

  • The standard of proof employed in Dean’s Panels will be preponderance of the evidence.
  • Previous violations will be considered during the phase of the proceedings in which resolutions are being discussed but not during the determination of violation.
  • No party to the proceeding (including witnesses) may discuss any aspect of this case with other students and/or any other members of the Haverford community. Exceptions to this proscription include students’ conversations with deans, CAPS counselors and EEO Officers. The Dean of the College will determine whether any aspect of the proceedings or resolutions must be disclosed in accordance with law.
  • No one from outside of the Haverford community who has not serving in the capacity of support person, as already agreed to by the Panel Chair, may be present at the hearing. This includes parents, siblings, other relatives or attorneys.
  • No contact is permitted with Panel members before, during and after the hearing by anyone not a direct party to the proceedings. No contact is permitted by any party on the subject of the proceedings with the President of the College other than that specified in the Appeals process.
  • Questions about any aspect of the Dean’s Panel process, once convened, should be referred to the Convening Dean.
  • In cases in which a Panel is convened when the College is not in session and/or either of the parties is not currently enrolled, every effort will be made to preserve the framework as described in preceding sections, but the College reserves the right to make any necessary modifications to move the proceedings forward.
  • If sexual misconduct is found to have occurred, the College will take steps to prevent recurrence of its discriminatory effects on the confronting party and others, if appropriate.

View the College's non-discrimination policy, including information on the process for claims of sexual misconduct made against non-students.