The Grievance Process
Loyola University Chicago is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from prohibited discrimination of any kind for members of the campus community, guests, and campus visitors. Accordingly, the University employs an administrative grievance process facilitated by the Office of Equity & Compliance to resolve complaints involving gender-based or other bias-motivated misconduct. This process is distinct from the process for addressing other student conduct matters, in that it employs an investigative model rather than a hearing model.
When an individual requests that a report of gender-based misconduct, discrimination, or other bias-motivated misconduct by a Loyola student or organization be investigated and adjudicated under this process, that report will be considered a “grievance” and the University will commence the process to investigate and adjudicate the matter (“the grievance process”). The individual bringing the grievance forward is the “affected party,” and the student or organization who allegedly committed the violation is the “respondent.” In addressing grievances, the University will balance the needs and rights of all parties in a fair and unbiased process.
The grievance process is available to any individual who reports being harmed by a Loyola student in a discriminatory manner and in alleged violation of the University's policies prohibiting the following:
- §201(3) Bias-Motivated Discrimination and Misconduct;
- §201(6) Dating and Domestic Violence;
- §201(21) Sexual Misconduct;
- §201(24) Stalking; or
- Any other misconduct (such as abusive conduct, harassment and bullying, hazing, etc.) that appears to have been motivated by discrimination or bias on the basis of one or more characteristics protected under the University’s Non-Discrimination Policy (§610).
An affected party who identifies as a survivor of gender-based discrimination or misconduct (including sexual misconduct, dating or domestic violence, and stalking) should review §604 for additional rights, resources, and information specific to their needs.
Please note that only student and student organization conduct is subject to disciplinary action under the Community Standards. Incidents of alleged misconduct by a faculty or staff member will be investigated and adjudicated according to faculty or staff disciplinary processes, respectively. For more information about reporting faculty and staff misconduct, please see §610 Non-Discrimination Policy.
The grievance process set forth here is separate and distinct from any criminal investigation or proceeding and is therefore fundamentally different in nature and scope from a criminal proceeding. Any criminal or civil lawsuit, investigation, or prosecution that may also take place will not relieve the University of its duty to respond, but the University may briefly delay an investigation to allow evidence collection or otherwise support the efforts of law enforcement.
All individuals have the right to be treated with dignity and respect throughout any interaction with the grievance process. Complainants and respondents (as defined in §101(9) and §101(28)) in the process also have the following rights:
a. All grievances and their potential impact on both parties will be treated seriously, and the University will respond promptly and proceed in a timely manner.
b. Both parties will receive timely notice of any required meetings, and will have the opportunity to review and respond to the information to be considered before a decision is rendered.
c. Both parties will be notified in writing of the potential policy violations assigned at the beginning of the investigation.
d. Both parties will have the opportunity to raise any concerns about any proposed investigator or appeal officer before that individual makes contact with the parties. If credible information is presented to the Deputy Coordinator indicating a conflict of interest, the Deputy Coordinator will replace the investigator or appeal board member as needed.
e. Both parties may elect to participate in the grievance process, but neither will be compelled to do so. However, choosing not to participate limits an individual’s ability to respond to questions and may impede the ability of the University to respond effectively to reports.
f. Both parties may present or refute evidence throughout the investigation and may propose witnesses to be considered for interviewing. For more information about witnesses, which are considered the same as in the student conduct process, see §407(2).
g. As with all University conduct processes, each party may choose to be accompanied by one advisor of their choice. The advisor may accompany either party at any point in time throughout the grievance process. For more information about the role of an advisor, which functions the same in the grievance process as in the student conduct process, see §407(1).
h. Both parties will be notified simultaneously and in writing of the outcome of the grievance process, including a decision rationale, information about sanctions, and the outcome of any appeal, if applicable.
i. Both parties have a right to appeal the decision of an investigator to an appeal board.
j. Both parties have a right not to have personally identifiable information disclosed outside of the grievance process except as necessary to resolve the complaint, to implement interim protective measures or assistance, or when otherwise provided by Illinois state or federal law.
EthicsLine Reporting Hotline, a third party internet and telephone hotline provider, is available to provide the University community with an automated and, if desired, anonymous way to file a grievance. Students may file an anonymous report through the website at www.luc.edu/ethicsline or by dialing (855) 603-6988. The University may be limited with respect to the actions it can take in responding to anonymous grievances.
Although these Community Standards only govern alleged misconduct of students, the University strongly encourages all faculty, staff, students, administrators or other concerned parties to use the EthicsLine system to call attention to wrongful acts by any member of the University community. No University administrator, faculty, staff or student may interfere with the good faith filing of a grievance; and the University will seek to protect any individual who files a grievance in good faith from retaliation, including harassment or any adverse employment, academic, or educational consequence. Grievances will be handled as promptly and discreetly as possible, and information will only be shared with those who need to ensure the safety of the campus community or investigate and resolve the matter.
In compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX” federal law) and the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act of Illinois (110 ILCS 155), additional reporting options are available to students who have experienced gender-based misconduct. These are referenced in §604(2) Reporting Incidents of Gender-Based Misconduct.
All grievances of alleged student misconduct are managed by the Office of the Dean of Students, typically by the Title IX Deputy Coordinator/Assistant Dean for Student Safety & Equity (“Deputy Coordinator”). In managing the resolution of grievances, the Deputy Coordinator will assign and oversee the investigator(s) and ensure that the grievance process is conducted in accordance with the Community Standards, Title IX, and other applicable laws.
The Deputy Coordinator is also a resource to both parties, and will share information about available and relevant resources and support services as needed/requested. Such resources may include, but are not limited to counseling services, interim protective measures (including but not limited to the interim administrative actions listed in §405), and assistance identifying an advisor. For complainants reporting gender-based misconduct, additional information about available assistance specific to such grievances can be found in §604 Gender-Based Discrimination and Misconduct Rights & Resources.
When a complainant elects to initiate the grievance process, or when the University determines that a report must be investigated independently of a reporter’s wishes (see §604(3)), the Deputy Coordinator will begin by reviewing the initial report. If the Deputy Coordinator determines that sufficient evidence has been presented to warrant a full investigation, the University will commence with a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation, which will be conducted by one or more investigators assigned by the Deputy Coordinator. Investigators for gender-based discrimination or misconduct cases, in compliance with Illinois law, have received at least eight hours of annual training on issues related to gender-based misconduct, cultural competency, trauma-informed investigations, and the University’s related policies and procedures. Investigators may confer with the Deputy Coordinator openly and at any time on all matters related to the grievance.
The grievance process (through resolution, but not including appeal) will normally be completed within 60 days after the University begins its investigation. The Deputy Coordinator or investigator may extend this time frame for good cause with written notice to the complainant and respondent. Good cause for such extension may include but is not limited to, the following: the complexity of the case requires additional time; multiple parties are involved; witnesses or parties are unavailable or uncooperative; the University is closed or on an academic break; or a University investigation would compromise a law enforcement investigation.
A complainant may initiate or withdraw from participation in the grievance process at any time. Once an investigation has begun, however, the University may proceed with the conclusion of the investigation without the complainant’s participation if the report involves pattern, predation, threat, weapons, and/or violence, or if it is otherwise determined that a significant threat to the University community must be addressed.
Upon a complainant’s request to proceed with the grievance process, the Deputy Coordinator or a designee will send both parties a Notice of Investigation (“NOI”). For students, this notice will be sent via the ADVOCATE database and/or LUC Outlook account. The NOI will inform the parties that a grievance has been filed and an investigation is commencing, and will identify potential policy violations indicated by the initial report and the name and contact information of the investigator or investigators assigned to the case. If either party is aware of a conflict of interest with a given investigator, they should communicate this to the Deputy Coordinator as soon as possible (see §501(d)).
Investigations will generally proceed with the investigator reviewing statements obtained from all parties; conducting interviews with complainant, respondent, and witnesses (if applicable); and identifying, locating, and reviewing other relevant information.
Complainant and respondent will have the same opportunity to propose witnesses for the investigator to interview. The investigator has the right to forgo interviewing a witness if the investigator determines that the proposed individual is unlikely to have new and relevant information pertaining to the investigation. Investigators generally will not meet with character witnesses or other individuals who do not have firsthand information directly relevant to the alleged misconduct.
Parties are not permitted to “cross examine” one another. Complainants(s) and respondent(s) may suggest questions to be posed to the other party by the investigator. Whether or not to pose such suggested questions is at the sole discretion of the investigator.
The University reserves the right to audio record individual interviews and meetings conducted as part of the investigation. Audio records will be preserved through the end of the appeal process or longer (at the discretion of the University), and may be accessed by an appeal board as needed. All audio records are the property of Loyola University Chicago and may be retained as part of the educational record. Participants (including advisors) may not make their own recordings. See also, §407(3) Authorized Audio and Video Recording.
Once a thorough review of all available information has been completed, the investigator will draft a Preliminary Investigation Report (“PIR”). The PIR will contain a summary of the facts as alleged by both parties, along with copies of all information considered by the investigator to be relevant to the grievance. The PIR may also amend the list of potential policy violations initially indicated in the NOI to include new potential policy violations discovered in the course of the investigation (the inclusion of new potential violations does not mean that the respondent will necessarily be found responsible for them).
The PIR will be made available to the complainant and respondent to review separately but in person, in a private space on-campus. To protect the privacy of the parties involved, no electronic recording devices (including cell phones) are permitted in the room while parties are reviewing the PIR, and the PIR may not be copied or made available for either party to take outside of the room where it is reviewed. Each party is responsible for making an appointment to review the PIR in a timely manner.
After each party has had a reasonable opportunity to review the PIR (no fewer than two business days), the investigator will typically meet or correspond with each party one final time to provide an opportunity for the party to respond to the totality of information presented in the PIR.
Once both parties have had a reasonable opportunity to respond to the PIR, the investigator will amend the PIR to include the investigator’s decision on responsibility and assigned outcomes (formerly known as “sanctions”) (if applicable). This amended report, known as the Final Investigation Report (“FIR”), will include any notes or correspondence from the parties in response to the PIR, as well as the investigator’s rationale for the decision.
Each policy cited as a potential violation will result in one of the following two outcomes:
If the investigator concludes that it is more likely than not that the respondent did not violate University policy, or if there is not enough information available to find a respondent responsible, a finding of “Not Responsible” will be issued and the alleged violation will be dismissed. No outcomes will be assigned and the alleged violation will not be reported to parties outside the University as part of the student’s conduct record.
If the investigator concludes that it is more likely than not that the respondent did violate the University policy, or if the student has accepted responsibility for violating the University policy, a finding of “Responsible” will be issued and appropriate outcomes will be assigned.
As with all University disciplinary proceedings, determinations of responsibility will be made using the “preponderance of the evidence” standard (see §101(23)).
The investigator will inform both parties of the outcome simultaneously and in writing within five business days of a decision. The decision letter will indicate any assigned outcomes imposed and the rationale for the decision and outcomes. Parties will also be informed of their right to review the FIR in its entirety (by request) and right to appeal. The FIR will be made available to the complainant and respondent to review separately but in person, in a private space on-campus. To protect the privacy of the parties involved, no electronic recording devices (including cell phones) are permitted in the room while parties are reviewing the FIR, and the FIR may not be copied or made available for either party to take outside of the room where it is reviewed.
Gender-based and bias-motivated incidents are among the most serious offenses at Loyola. If it is determined that such misconduct did occur, then the University strives to ensure that the behavior is stopped and prevented and that its resulting harm is remedied through effective and educational outcomes. Assigned outcomes (formerly known as “sanctions”) for these violations vary depending on the circumstances, but may include any of the following: Educational Experience or Project; Extension of Emergency Administrative Actions; Loss of Privileges; Residence Hall Probation, Suspension, or Expulsion; Student Organization Sanctions; or University Probation, Suspension, or Expulsion. For more information on these potential outcomes, see §406 Assigned Outcomes.
Additionally, though outside the purview of these Community Standards, campus guests, visitors and/or individuals engaged in University-affiliated programs or services who are believed to have engaged in or supported such behavior are subject to loss of campus privileges, restriction from accessing University campuses or facilities, and/or criminal prosecution. In all cases, the University will consider the safety and concerns of the complainant, the respondent, and the greater University community in determining appropriate assigned outcomes.
Due to the unique nature of the grievance process, appeals of grievance decisions are handled differently from standard conduct appeals.
Parties may request an appeal on one or more of the following grounds:
- New substantive information is available that could not reasonably have been discovered by the appealing party at the time of the investigation interview(s) and that would have likely changed the outcome of the case.
- A substantive procedural error or error in the interpretation of University policy occurred that denied the appealing party the right to a fair hearing and decision.
- The finding (as to responsibility or assigned outcomes or both) was manifestly contrary to the information presented during the investigation or to the established Community Standards (i.e., the decision was clearly unreasonable and unsupported by the preponderance of the evidence).
In the grievance process, either or both parties may appeal all or part of an investigator’s decision within five business days of the date of the decision letter. Any party who files an appeal must do so in writing by submitting a request to the Deputy Coordinator, who will determine if the appeal is timely. If the appeal is timely, the Deputy Coordinator will begin preparations for a review of the decision by an appeal board.
Requests for appeal must include the grounds for appeal, a personal statement explaining in detail why the party is contesting the results of the investigation, and any relevant documentation available that substantiates or clarifies the request for appeal.
A copy of the appeal request will be promptly provided to the non-appealing party, who may submit a response within five business days and this response will be shared with the initial appealing party.
Appeal boards are comprised of Loyola faculty or staff who, as with investigators, have received at least eight hours of annual training on issues related to Title IX, cultural competency, trauma-informed investigations, and the University’s related policies. Appeal board members are assigned by the Deputy Coordinator and may confer with the Deputy Coordinator or investigator at any time in the course of reviewing the appeal. Appeal board members will not have participated previously in the investigation or resolution of the grievance process and will not have a conflict of interest with either party.
An appellate review is not a hearing, re-investigation, or a replacement for the investigator’s original decision. Rather, it is a review of the investigation and resolution to ensure that all University policies and procedures were followed and that parties’ rights in the grievance process were upheld. Accordingly, the standard of evidence for an appeal is different from the “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in the original grievance process. In an appeal, the responsibility lies with the appealing party (either respondent or complainant) to provide clear and convincing information demonstrating that the original process or decision was substantively flawed. Appeal decisions are deferential to the original investigative decision, but may overturn or modify that decision (with respect to responsibility, outcomes, or both) or remand a case when there is a clear need to do so. The outcome of a remanded case may be appealed again (as if the case were being decided for the first time). An appeal board may wish to meet with the parties individually as a part of an appellate review but is not compelled to do so. While a request for appeal is under review (final decision is pending), assigned outcomes and other disciplinary actions may be enforced on an interim basis at the discretion of the University (see §406(2) Requesting a Stay of Assigned Outcomes).
After reviewing all records pertaining to the grievance, the appeal board will communicate their final decision, including rationale, to the parties simultaneously and in writing. Unless extenuating circumstances cause unavoidable delay, parties will be informed of the appellate decision within five business days of the conclusion of the appellate review.
The disposition of a case by an appeal board following an appellate review is final within the University and is not subject to further review.