Alternative Resolution Options
ALTERNATIVE RESOLUTION OPTIONS MAY BE AVAILABLE in certain circumstances prior to reaching a determination regarding the respondent’s responsibility, when both parties agree and when the EDEC determines that the matter is appropriate for alternative resolution.
Before initiating any alternative resolution process (including mediation, restorative justice, directed discussions, no contest resolutions, and other negotiated resolutions), the University must provide to all parties a written notice disclosing the allegations, the requirements of the alternative resolution process, and any consequences resulting from participating in the alternative resolution process (including the records that will be maintained or could be shared).
General information about the availability of alternative resolution options may be included in the University’s responsive communications to reports and/or formal complaints, but alternative resolution may only be requested by a party upon or after the filing of a formal complaint.
Additionally, both/all parties must provide voluntary, written consent to alternative resolution for the University to proceed with facilitating alternative resolution; the University may not require or compel any party to participate in an alternative resolution process; and alternative resolution is never available to resolve allegations that a faculty or staff employee engaged in Title IX sexual harassment towards a student.
At any point prior to resolving a matter through alternative resolution, any party may withdraw from the alternative resolution process and resume the ERP or the Grievance Process (as applicable) with respect to the formal complaint. However, once a matter has been resolved through alternative resolution, it may not be raised again.
Alternative resolution may be facilitated internally by a trained and qualified University employee or externally by an outside organization, such as the Center for Conflict Resolution, with logistical support provided by the OEC. Parties interested in exploring the possibility of alternative resolution should discuss these options with the EDEC or assigned investigator.
Mediation* is a voluntary, confidential, participant-focused, and structured dialogue facilitated by a neutral and impartial mediator, where parties’ needs and interests are explored without judgment to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
The Executive Director for Equity & Compliance ("EDEC") determines if mediation is appropriate based on the interest/willingness of the parties, the nature of the conduct at issue, and the amenableness of the conduct to such a process. Disciplinary sanctions are not assigned as a result of mediation, although if all parties agree to any remedy or other course of action the resolution agreement will be documented and become binding upon the parties. The Office for Equity & Compliance only maintains records of any final agreement that is reached, and has a limited role in implementing and enforcing agreed upon resolutions.
Mediation may not be used to address reports of violent conduct of any kind or where a respondent appears to present an ongoing threat to the University community. However, mediation may be made available after the resolution of a formal complaint, if the parties and the EDEC believe it could help repair harm. Mediation is never used in cases of sexual assault as defined in Article 3 of the Comprehensive Policy.
*Mediation as referenced in this Comprehensive Policy is distinct from mediation as provided for under some collective bargaining agreements, the latter of which is not governed by this Comprehensive Policy.
Restorative Justice Conferencing
Restorative justice (“RJ”) is an alternative framework for promoting justice that – in circumstances where the respondent accepts responsibility for causing harm – focuses on the harm rather than the guilt or responsibility of the respondent. A restorative justice conference (or “RJ conference”) is one restorative practice where the party who experienced harm, the party who caused harm, and a representative of the University community (represented by a University employee), come together to discuss the perspectives, feelings, needs, and expectations of each party. The intent of RJ conferencing is to acknowledge and understand the harm caused and to work collaboratively to identify ways to repair that harm and restore community.
The Executive Director for Equity & Compliance ("EDEC") determines if RJ is appropriate based on the interest/willingness of the parties, the nature of the conduct at issue, and the amenableness of the conduct to such a process. Disciplinary sanctions are not assigned as a result of RJ, although if all parties agree to any remedy or other course of action, the resolution agreement will be documented and become binding upon the parties. The Office for Equity & Compliance only maintains records of any final agreement that is reached and has a limited role in implementing and enforcing agreed upon resolutions.
RJ may not be used to address reports of violent conduct of any kind or where a respondent appears to present an ongoing threat to the University community. However, RJ may be made available after the resolution of a formal complaint, if the parties and the EDEC believe it could help repair harm. RJ is never used in cases of sexual assault (as defined in Article 3 of the Comprehensive Policy).
At times, a party may request that the University take only a very limited role in addressing alleged misconduct. For example, a complainant who does not want to subject a respondent to the possibility of discipline may request assistance in notifying the respondent how the alleged behavior affected the complainant and/or request a change in the respondent’s future behavior.
When appropriate, the Executive Director for Equity & Compliance ("EDEC") may approve a directed discussion as a way to communicate the perspective of an affected party to a respondent without engaging the full Equitable Resolution Procedures ("ERP") or Grievance Process. To this end, the EDEC may, after notifying the respondent that a formal complaint has been submitted, request a meeting with the respondent to discuss the complainant’s perspective and requested change in behavior or other responsive action from the respondent. The respondent is thereby made aware that the University has received a formal complaint involving them, although they will not be subject to disciplinary action. In this manner, a complainant may communicate their perspective; the respondent may be made aware of the allegation(s); and the University may satisfy its obligation to address every formal complaint equitably and appropriately to the circumstances at hand.
Directed discussions are non-disciplinary in nature, and do not result in sanctions or other corrective action. However, because a non-disciplinary record is still generated and maintained by the Office for Equity & Compliance as a result of a directed discussion, the respondent may elect to respond in writing for the record if desired. The response may be shared with the affected party, depending on the wishes of the parties.
No Contest Resolution
Where the facts alleged in a formal complaint are not contested, where the respondent has admitted or wishes to admit responsibility, or where both parties want to resolve the case without a completed investigation or adjudication, the case may be eligible for No Contest Resolution. The Executive Director for Equity & Compliance ("EDEC") determines if a No Contest Resolution is appropriate based on the interest/willingness of the parties, the nature of the conduct at issue, and the amenableness of the conduct to such a process. No Contest Resolution must be agreed upon, voluntarily and in writing, by both parties and approved by the EDEC.
Under the No Contest Resolution process, the available evidence is documented in a report and both parties are afforded the opportunity to meet separately with a designated decision-maker prior to the determination of sanctions. The decision-maker determines appropriate sanctions based on the uncontested formal complaint, the respondent’s disciplinary history within the institution (if any), and the discussions (if applicable) with each party. The decision-maker’s determination of sanctions (only) is subject to appeal, following the procedure that would have been applicable had the formal complaint been resolved through the Equitable Resolution Procedures ("ERP") or Grievance Process.
Other Negotiated Resolution
The Executive Director for Equity & Compliance, with the written consent of both parties, may negotiate and implement an agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and the University. Such resolution is highly case-specific and depends on the individual circumstances of the report. In all cases, however, the general requirements for all alternative resolution options will apply.