Interim Guidelines for Filing a Complaint of Discrimination Based on Sex, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence, and Stalking

Washington and Lee University prohibits discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence (to include dating and domestic violence), and stalking, and provides institutional procedures for resolving incidents that come to our attention. Although not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of your options and rights, this information will be useful to you until W&L's policies and procedures are updated.

Sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault/violence, and other sex-based misconduct occurring in the university setting involves Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities and mandates certain responsibilities for W&L.

In complying with Title IX, W&L has designated a number of Student Affairs Staff and other Student Advisers to whom individuals may go for information and dispute-resolution options for complaints against students. In addition, W&L has designated a number of faculty and staff as Discrimination Policy Advisors to whom individuals may go for information and dispute-resolution options for complaints against faculty, staff, or third parties, and as Investigation/Review Officers who address formal complaints against non-students (collectively, "Employee Resources"). W&L also has Title IX Officers who can help individuals understand their options and W&L's responsibilities in these cases.

The following are resources under Title IX:

W&L is committed to maintaining a positive learning, working, and living environment. When sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault/violence, or other sex-based misconduct has occurred and is brought to the attention of the school, W&L will take steps to redress any such misconduct, prevent its reoccurrence, and address its effects. For more information see the University Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct and Retaliation (go.wlu.edu/OGC/DiscriminationPolicy).

Within W&L's processes, the person making the allegations is referred to as the Complainant, and the person against whom the allegations have been made is referred to as the Respondent. A complainant may report directly to a Student Resource, Employee Resource, or Title IX Officer. A complainant may also report directly to law enforcement. If the incident happened on campus, you may also contact the W&L Public Safety Department and/or the Lexington Police Department. If the incident occurred off campus, you may contact the Lexington Police Department or Rockbridge County Sheriff's Department (see contact information near the end of these guidelines).

University personnel, including Student Resources, Employee Resources, Title IX Officers, and the Director of Public Safety, can assist complainants in making reports to law enforcement and in seeking orders of protection through the courts. In some cases, there may be time-sensitive considerations for reporting, such as the option to have medical or other evidence collected and preserved. There is no time limit on reporting. A student can bring a report, no matter how much time has passed since the incident, and W&L will assist in resolution. However, a delay in reporting could impact the ability to gather relevant evidence. A complainant may pursue both the W&L process and the criminal process simultaneously. In addition, students may file a Title IX complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.

The University has authority to address these complaints in a non-criminal context. The W&L process is completely separate from the police and the courts. Within W&L, the identity of the respondent determines which office will oversee the complaint. When the respondent is a W&L student at the time of the incident, the Assistant Title IX Coordinator for Students, or, after July 1, 2014, the Title IX Coordinator, will oversee the investigation and resolution of those cases whether they occur on or off campus. For cases where the respondent is a W&L employee, the Assistant Title IX Coordinator for Employees will oversee investigation and resolution of those cases. When the respondent is both a W&L student and a W&L employee, the two offices may work together to resolve the case. Individuals who are uncertain about which office to contact may call either office. When the respondent is neither a student nor an employee, W&L can still assist with counseling and other support services. Additionally, W&L will investigate and attempt to reach a resolution where possible in such cases.

When a case is brought forward, the allegations will be reviewed and a determination will be made about an appropriate course of action. Some cases can be handled informally and outside of the formal investigative process, although W&L will not mediate cases of sexual assault or sexual/relationship violence even on a voluntary basis. For cases that result in an investigation, those investigations are conducted by individuals who have received specialized training. Typically, investigations will include interviews with the complainant and respondent, interviews with relevant witnesses, and the identification, solicitation, and review of any documentation relevant to the investigation, including available police reports. All investigations will be conducted in a prompt, thorough, and impartial manner.

Procedures for Complaints Against Students can be found online.

Procedures for Complaints Against Faculty, Staff and Other Non-Students can be found online.

When W&L becomes aware of sexual assault or sexual/relationship violence, the University may have an obligation to proceed with an investigation, regardless of a complainant's wishes, in order to ensure campus safety. Complainants are not required to participate if they so choose; however, this may limit the University's ability to respond to the incident. If a complainant requests that his/her name or other identifying information not be used in an investigation, such a request will be considered while taking into account the University's responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment. When the University proceeds with a complaint, information (including names) may be shared with the respondent, witnesses, and University officials who have a legitimate need to know. Beyond that, every effort will be made to protect the identities of all individuals involved.

In W&L's process for complaints against students, the complainant and the respondent each have the option to seek support and assistance from an Honor Advocate or Advisor during the course of any disciplinary proceeding. The Advisor may be an attorney in cases of alleged sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, or stalking. Neither the Honor Advocates nor Advisors may be actively involved in any hearing. Moreover, they may not verbally question the other party or witnesses. The Student-Faculty Hearing Board ("SFHB") is the hearing panel that adjudicates cases against students. The SFHB Board Chair may accept written questions from the Honor Advocates/Advisors for consideration by the panel. Both a complainant and a respondent have the right to identify witnesses and provide other information relevant to the investigation. All cases will be decided based on a preponderance of the evidence standard- i.e., whether or not it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred. In most cases, W&L will not wait until a criminal case is resolved before proceeding with the case. W&L's fact-finding investigation may be delayed for a short period of time upon a request from law enforcement, but will be resumed as soon as possible. Every effort will be made to resolve these complaints within 60 days of the report. W&L will keep the parties advised about the status of the case. The complainant and respondent will simultaneously be sent notice of the outcome of the case in writing.

Any student found responsible for violating the provision on nonconsensual sexual intercourse will receive a sanction of dismissal. Any student found responsible for violating the provision on nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual harassment, or any other sex-based misconduct will receive a sanction ranging from a warning to mandated education/counseling to probation and ultimately to dismissal, depending on the severity of the incident and taking into account factors such as any previous conduct violations. Any employee found responsible for violating the provision on nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual harassment, or any other sex-based misconduct will receive a sanction up to and including termination, depending upon the severity of the incident and taking into account factors such as any previous conduct violations. W&L reserves the right to broaden or reduce any range or recommended sanctions in the event of mitigating factors or egregiously offensive behavior involving students and employees.

Because the University's primary concern is student safety, no students involved in an investigation are subject to sanction for being in violation of University policy on consumption of alcohol or other drugs, when consumption is personal and without intent to distribute. The complainant's use of alcohol or other drugs does not make the complainant at fault for being subjected to sexual assault or sexual/relationship violence.

W&L will take interim steps to protect a complainant while the case is pending. Depending on the case and complainant's wishes, such protective measures may include changes to academic, living, transportation, and working situation if such accommodations are reasonably available. In addition, these steps may include directing a respondent to avoid contact with a complainant, excluding a respondent from parts of campus, and/or providing a complainant with an escort on campus. Any such adjustments will be designed to minimize any impact on the complainant's and the respondent's educational program. Some of these actions may also be remedies in those cases resulting in a finding of a policy violation. If a complainant chooses not to bring a complaint forward, the relevant Title IX Officer (or delegate) can still assist with interim measures and accommodations.

W&L policy prohibits retaliation against any employee or student who reports an incident of alleged sexual harassment or sexual/relationship violence, or any employee or student who assists or participates in a proceeding, investigation, or hearing relating to those allegations. Both respondent and complainant are informed of this provision, and any retaliation should be reported immediately to the appropriate Student Resource, Employee Resource, Title IX Officer, or Director of Public Safety.

As required by federal guidance, W&L has identified certain groups of employees as Responsible Employees for purposes of complaints of sexual violence or other sexual misconduct. These employees are the same as those identified as Campus Security Authorities in the University's Campus Security Report. As indicated below, certain of these employees have the authority to redress complaints of sexual violence or sexual misconduct. The others identified have a specifically designated duty to report incidents of sexual violence or other student sexual misconduct or are individuals who students could reasonably believe have the authority to redress or duty to report on campus. Responsible Employees must refer reports of misconduct under these policies and guidelines to a Title IX Officer, and information brought to their attention is not confidential. All of the following Responsible Employees are trained on how to identify sexual misconduct and on their duties (whether to redress or report):

The following Responsible Employees have the authority to redress complaints of sexual violence or sexual misconduct:

  • Title IX Coordinator and Assistant Title IX Coordinator(s)
  • Student Resources defined herein
  • Employee Resources defined herein
  • Director and Officers of Public Safety

The following additional Responsible Employees are specifically charged with the duty to report complaints of sexual violence or student sexual misconduct to a Title IX Officer (Note: These positions are also identified as Responsible Employees because students may reasonably believe them to have authority to redress or duty to report such complaints):

  • Resident Assistants/Advisors
  • Shepherd Program - Coordinator for Student Service Leadership and Research and Co-Curricular Service Coordinator
  • Hillel House Director
  • Assistant Director of Campus Recreation
  • Athletic Team Coaches, Assistant Coaches, and Athletic Trainers
  • Athletic Director, Associate and Assistant Athletic Directors
  • Faculty Department Chairs and Program Chairs
  • Faculty accompanying students on off-campus field trips or other University-related trips, within and outside the United States

W&L has confidential counseling and treatment resources available for students at the University's Student Health and Counseling Center and confidential resources for employees through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). We encourage students to contact the Student Health and Counseling Center and employees to contact the EAP to help process resolution options. They can offer counseling and assistance in a supportive and confidential setting.

All W&L employees, even those who are not specifically identified as Responsible Employees, including faculty, staff, and administrators, are expected to report incidents of sexual violence and other sexual misconduct of which they are aware to the Title IX Coordinator, Assistant Title IX Coordinator, Student Resource, or Employee Resource identified herein. No W&L employee may promise absolute confidentiality of any sexual violence or other sexual misconduct incident brought to his or her attention.

On-campus resources include:

For Students:

  • University Counseling Center
    Provides confidential counseling services
    (540) 458-8590
  • Student Health Center
    (540) 458-8401
  • Office of Student Affairs
    Elrod Commons
    (540) 458-8754
  • Dean of Students Office - A dean is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the academic year - contact Public Safety at (540) 458-8999

For Employees:       

  • Employee Assistance Program
    Provides confidential telephone consultation or face-to-face meeting with a master's level consultant; also provides educational materials through an online library of downloadable materials and interactive tools. (800) 992-1931
  • Office of Human Resources
    Two South Main
    (540) 458-8920

For Students and Employees: Director of Public Safety, Ethan Kipnes
(540) 458-8427; (540) 458-8999

Off-campus resources include:

Emergency Response: 911

  • Lexington Police Dept: (540) 462-3507
    11 Fuller Street
    Lexington, VA 24450
  • Rockbridge County Sheriff's Office: (540) 463-7328
    258 Greenhouse Road
    Lexington, VA 24450
  • Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital: (540) 458-3347
  • Augusta Health:  (540) 332-4423
    (This is the closest hospital if an exam to collect evidence of sexual assault is desired. Project Horizon or Public Safety can assist with transportation. Coordinate through the Student Health Center.)
    78 Medical Center Drive
    Fishersville, VA 22939
  • Project Horizon: (540) 463-2594
    (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault)
    24 hours a day/7 days a week

For a thorough explanation of W&L processes, please see the websites noted above or contact a Student Resource, an Employee Resource, or one of the Title IX Coordinators.

See: Title IX at Washington and Lee University