17.00 Sexual Misconduct Review
17.00 Sexual Misconduct Review
The university is committed to creating a campus environment that encourages prompt reporting of sexual misconduct and expedites a fair, thorough and neutral investigation and adjudication of such cases.
The following sections deal with cases involving sexual misconduct committed by a student (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and stalking), cases involving student-on-student discrimination (including harassment) based on sex or any other protected characteristic, as well as cases involving retaliation that is connected with such matters. Where the following sections mention sexual misconduct, the same procedure is used for discrimination and retaliation cases.
The following procedures are the ones that apply in these cases, instead of those set out above for non-academic violations.
For details on prohibited behavior, see Section E. Integrity of the Academic Community.
These cases are investigated by the university’s Title IX Coordinator, or a designee overseen by the Title IX Coordinator.
17.01 Reporting Sexual Misconduct
A. University Investigation
If the alleged assailant is a USC student, a student who has been subjected to sexual misconduct by another student can file a formal report with the Title IX Coordinator or directly with the Title IX Investigator at (213) 740-5086. Any such report will then be investigated. For cases involving sexual misconduct by staff or faculty, or other members of the university community (for example, a vendor or campus visitor) a report can be made to Jody Shipper, the Title IX Coordinator, CUB Building 2nd Floor, University Park Campus, (213) 740-5086, in the Office of Equity and Diversity. If a student has received assistance from the Center for Women and Men (CWM), the student may also request that the CWM forward the student’s formal report to the Title IX Coordinator.
B. Criminal Investigation
The crime of rape, or attempted rape, is a serious criminal act. It is the student’s right to choose whether to file a criminal report. The university encourages students to consider reporting these crimes. To report a crime, students may contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS), (213) 740-4321, 24 hours a day. Whenever a crime of a sexual nature is reported to DPS, they immediately notify the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD (or the appropriate law enforcement agency if outside of Los Angeles) has the responsibility for the investigation of these crimes; DPS is not permitted to do so. Any report filed with DPS will be shared with the Title IX Coordinator and the Center for Women and Men.
Students can also report the crime directly to the police.
C. Counseling and Advocacy
Students are entitled to receive confidential assistance from the Center for Women and Men (CWM) (or the Sexual Assault Resource Center within the CWM). Counselors are available for emotional support and advocacy. You can speak with a counselor on campus confidentially 24 hours a day at the Center for Women and Men, (213) 740-4900.
The nature of sexual misconduct or assault, particularly by an acquaintance, date or partner, makes it difficult for many students to report their experiences. For this reason, the Center for Women and Men is designated as a place where individuals may seek confidential assistance. Staff at the Engemann Student Health Center and the Student Counseling Center also assure confidentiality to students seeking their services. (Please note that, in the cases in which there is a physical wound or injury due to a rape, or in the case of a sexual assault of a minor, physicians may be required to report these situations to the proper legal authorities.)
See also Section E.3 Prevention and Support.
D. Anonymous Statistical Reporting
The law known as the Clery Act (officially called The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990) mandates the annual disclosure of statistics of sexual assaults known to have occurred within the university’s jurisdiction. Statistics on incidents reported to DPS and SJACS are included in these reports, along with statistics from Campus Security Authorities and the LAPD. No identifying information about reporting persons or victims is disclosed in this statistical reporting.
E. Medical Assistance
Someone who has been raped should get medical care as soon as possible by going to a hospital emergency department or a specialized forensic clinic that works with sexual assault survivors. Options include the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center (310-319-4000/ 24 hours) or the Sexual Assault Center within the Violence Intervention Program Urgent Care Center (323-226-3961/ 24 hours), which is directed by USC faculty physicians. DPS and the Center for Women and Men are available to provide transportation if needed.
17.02 Intake and Investigation
- Complaints of student sexual misconduct that are made to SJACS or the Department of Public Safety will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator.
Upon learning that a student has been sexually assaulted or has otherwise made a complaint of sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will contact that student to explain his or her rights, the student’s option to make a report to LAPD or SJACS or both, resources and available referrals, including medical and other assistance.
- If the Center for Women and Men has not previously been consulted by the student about the incident, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will also inform the Center for Women and Men of the complaint, so that the Center for Women and Men may conduct any appropriate outreach.
- It is generally up to the discretion of the complaining party whether or not to proceed with a full university investigation, although there may be times when the university will determine that the safety and security of the broader campus community requires that the university proceed with a full investigation. Any time this is done, the complaining party will be notified prior to the start of any such investigation.
- If the student making the report of sexual misconduct wishes to proceed with a university investigation (or the university decides to do so), the matter will be immediately assigned to an investigator, who may be the Title IX Coordinator or a specially trained Title IX Investigator, with oversight from the Title IX Coordinator.
- Information regarding investigations of non-students conducted by the Office of Equity and Diversity is available at usc.edu/dept/hr/equity_diversity. What is explained in this Section 17 is the Title IX process for student-to-student matters.
- It is also the student’s right to choose whether to file a criminal report with the Department of Public Safety (DPS), (213) 740-4321, 24 hours a day. DPS will immediately notify the Los Angeles Police Department. The student may also call the police directly. The university encourages students to consider reporting these crimes.
- As part of the investigation, the investigator will meet separately with both the reporting student and the accused student and explain to each a summary of rights, the investigative process, avenues of appeal after the investigation and information about available resources.
- As part of the investigation, the investigator will ask for all information relevant to the allegations. For both parties, this is their opportunity to present any information regarding the incident, including names of witnesses, the existence of documents or videotapes, or any other information the parties feel may be relevant. Both parties may also present supplemental information during the course of the investigation, until the investigator makes findings.
- The investigator will conduct additional investigation and witness interviews as appropriate and review all available pertinent evidence.
- The investigator will then make findings of fact and come to a conclusion as to whether or not, by a preponderance of the evidence, there has been a violation of the Student Conduct Code.
- The investigator cannot and does not make a finding as to whether a crime has been committed, as that can only be done through the legal process.
- All students and employees have the responsibility to participate fully and truthfully in university investigations. (However, if the accused student declines to present information on his/her own behalf, this will not be construed as an admission of guilt.) If employees (including student employees) are interviewed during their USC working hours, the time will count as time worked.
- Students who fail to respond to initial notification from the Title IX Investigator within 10 business days of that notification or who cannot be contacted after reasonable attempts remain subject to an investigation and consequent sanctioning if a violation of the Student Conduct Code is found.
- At the separate meetings of the accused student and the complaining student with the investigator, the student being interviewed may have an advocate present. The advocate may be the student’s parent or mental health therapist, or an advocate provided through the Center for Women and Men or the Engemann Student Health Center, or the student’s attorney. Whether or not an advocate is present, the primary conversation will be with the student.
17.03 Procedural Rights
While significant procedural protections are provided to both the complaining student and the accused student, this does not include the right to confront accusers. Both the complaining student and the accused student are granted the following procedural protections:
- Written notice of the incident report that specifies the nature of the alleged violation and the basis for the charge including the date or period of time and location regarding the alleged incident.
- Written notice of the published location of the Student Conduct Code and Conduct Review System, published online in this guidebook.
- Written notice of the requirement to meet with the investigator. The university reserves the right to conduct investigations in absentia when an accused student fails to respond after proper notice has been given or after the university has exercised reasonable effort to notify the student of the allegations. Also, there may be times when the university in its discretion decides to proceed with the investigation even when the complaining student does not wish to proceed. (See Section 17.02 A, paragraph three.)
- A fair, thorough, neutral and impartial investigation of the incident.
- At the start of the investigation, a summary of rights, investigation procedures and avenue of appeal.
- Both parties have the right to inspect documents and/or relevant information gathered as part of the investigation (though medical information may be kept confidential). A request to inspect documentation or evidence should be directed to the investigator at any time during the process. Requests must be presented in writing at least one working day in advance.
- The opportunity to provide names of relevant witnesses.
- If the accused student declines to present information on his/her own behalf, this will not be construed as an admission of guilt.
- A written and timely decision sent to both parties outlining the results of the investigation, explaining the basis for the conclusion and outlining the proper course of appeal.
- The opportunity to appeal the investigation results within 10 business days of receipt of the written decision.
- Notice may be either emailed to the student’s email address of record in the Student Directory, mailed to the student’s last known address or hand delivered. If a notice is mailed, it is deemed to be received three days after it is mailed.
- Sexual misconduct investigations, excluding the time for any appeal, shall be completed within 60 days, unless the university’s Title IX coordinator determines that special circumstances require a longer period to conduct a fair and complete investigation.
- The reporting student and the accused student have equal rights throughout the investigation and appeal process.
- See also Section E.4 III. Rights Concerning Reporting.
17.04 Other Procedural Matters
A. Multiple Accused Students
In reviews of incidents involving more than one accused student, the investigator, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the reviews concerning each student be conducted separately.
B. Pending Criminal Charges
For cases in which criminal investigations and/or proceedings are concurrent or pending, the university will proceed independent of such investigations or proceedings. The mere fact that criminal investigation or proceedings exist will not be considered grounds for delay.
C. Testimony and Evidence
In cases concerning accusation of sexual assault, past sexual history of any involved party will not be admitted in evidence or testimony unless directly relevant to the matter under consideration.
D. Standard of Proof
The burden of proof shall at all times rest upon the complaining student. The standard of proof for deciding against the accused student shall be the preponderance of the evidence, meaning such evidence that, when weighed against that opposed to it, has the more convincing force and the greater probability of truth.
17.05 Conditions for Review
A. Definition of a Student:
For the purpose of university rules and regulations, a student is defined as one who:
- is currently enrolled in university classes or in one of the university’s degree or non-degree programs,
- has completed the immediately preceding semester and/or is enrolled for the next scheduled semester,
- is officially representing the university during a period between regular academic semesters, or
- is not officially enrolled for a particular semester, but who has a continuing academic relationship with the university.
B. Definition of a Student Organization:
A student organization is defined as one which has satisfied the administrative procedures for recognition as prescribed in this guidebook (see G.1) or which is functioning within the university community in the capacity of a student organization.
Cases involving academic or sexual misconduct or discrimination may be reported at any time.
Any action pending within the Student Conduct process does not relieve the student from any financial obligations to the university.
University jurisdiction and discipline shall be limited to conduct which occurs on university premises or within the university community, is associated with university sponsored or related activities, or which adversely affects the university community and/or the pursuit of its objectives, including student-to-student sexual misconduct.
E. Status of Accused Students:
- In most cases, the status of a student will not be altered and disciplinary sanctions are not initiated until completion of the investigation and an appeal, if any.
- Interim action may be initiated by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee, whenever there is evidence that a student or organization may pose a substantial threat to the safety or well-being of one or more members of the university community or to property within the university community or poses a continuing threat of disruption or interference to normal university life or functions. This interim action may include a directive or agreement that the accused and the complaining student have no contact, as specified in a letter from the Vice Provost or designee.
- Administrative holds affecting registration transactions, posting of degree and students’ ability to acquire copies of their transcripts may be placed when students fail to fulfill terms of their disciplinary obligations. Such situations may include failure to respond to a written notice indicating a required appointment with a designated university disciplinary official and failure to complete disciplinary sanctions by an established deadline.This restriction normally will remain in effect until disciplinary obligations are met or adjudication of the matter is complete. Students placed on disciplinary probation or deferred suspension may continue to participate in university activities unless specific sanctions or other campus and organizational rules or regulations restrict such participation.
- When the outcome of a disciplinary action is suspension from the university, a restriction will be placed prohibiting the student from performing any registration transactions during the period of suspension. The restriction will not be removed, and the student will not be allowed to perform registration transactions, until the stated period of suspension has expired and all disciplinary obligations are met.
- After finding the facts, the investigator, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, will impose any appropriate sanction on the accused student as set out below.
- Sanctions, including those involving expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree and revocation of admission, are subject to review and possible modification by the university’s Title IX Coordinator before they are issued at the close of the investigation.
- The university will provide both the reporting student and the accused student the results of the investigation, on the same day and in writing. The results will include the determination whether or not there was a violation, and the reasons, and the reporting student will be given a summary of any sanction imposed on the accused student.
- Sanctions for violations of the rules on sexual misconduct and discrimination are assessed appropriately for the cited violation. Sanctions will be considered in light of the gravity of the student’s actions and the student’s entire conduct records at the university and will be designed to hold students accountable for their actions and the resulting or potential consequences of such actions, and to protect the safety of the university community.
- One or more of the following sanctions may be imposed for these violations.
- Expulsion from the University: Permanent termination of student status. A permanent notation will appear on the student’s transcript. The student will be excluded from all classes, seminars and programs; will not be allowed to participate in any university-sponsored activity; may not receive a USC degree; and is barred from university premises. If the expulsion becomes effective during a semester for which the student currently is enrolled, the student’s enrollment will be cancelled by the university resulting in marks of “W” for the enrolled courses on the student’s academic transcript.
- Suspension from the University: Termination of student status for a specified but limited period of time. During the period of suspension, the student will be excluded from all classes, seminars and programs; will not be allowed to participate in any university-sponsored activities; and is barred from university premises. A restriction will be placed prohibiting the student from performing any registration transactions during the period of suspension. The restriction will not be removed, and the student will not be allowed to perform registration transactions, until the stated period of suspension has expired and all disciplinary obligations have been met. A notation will appear on the student’s academic transcript indicating the dates of suspension. Upon earning a degree from the university, the suspension notation may be omitted from the transcript at the sole discretion of the university. In some cases, suspensions may be permanently noted on the transcript. During the period of suspension, the student may not complete academic work elsewhere that may be counted toward the completion of a USC degree.
- Violation of the conditions of suspension, university policies or regulations during the period of suspension may be cause for further disciplinary action, usually in the form of expulsion from the university. Normally, after the suspension, the student will be on disciplinary probation for a specified period of time. If the suspension becomes effective during a semester for which the student currently is enrolled, the student’s enrollment will be cancelled by the university resulting in marks of “W” for the enrolled courses on the student’s transcript.
- Interim Suspension/Action: The Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee may initiate interim suspension or action against a student or organization pending disciplinary proceedings whenever there is evidence that the student or organization poses a substantial threat to the safety or well-being of members of the university community or to property within the university community or when a student or organization poses a continuing threat of disruption or interference to normal university life or functions. A student or organization subject to interim suspension or action will be given prompt written notice of the charges and the opportunity for a review within 15 days of the notice, unless a later date shall be mutually agreed upon by the accused student or organization and the Title IX Coordinator.
- Interim Suspension means exclusion from all classes, seminars and programs; prohibition of participation in university-sponsored activities; and exclusion from university premises.
- Interim Action includes, but is not limited to, exclusion from university housing or a specified portion thereof, or from other specified activities or areas of the campus as set forth in the written notice of Interim Action.
- Revocation of Admission: The student loses admitted status to the university. The student may not continue enrollment or enroll for future semesters and may not receive a USC degree. Normally, revocation of admission precludes the student from the opportunity to apply to or be admitted to any program at the university in the future. A permanent notation will be made on the student’s transcript indicating that admission was revoked and the date of the action. If the revocation of admission becomes effective during a semester for which the student currently is enrolled, the student’s enrollment will be cancelled by the university resulting in marks of “W” for the enrolled courses on the student’s academic transcript.
- Revocation of Degree: The student loses the right to claim the degree as earned. Posting of the degree will be removed from the student’s transcript, and a permanent notation will be made on the transcript indicating the revocation, the degree involved and the date of the action.
- Dismissal from an Academic Unit: Permanent termination of the student’s right to enroll or participate in the classes, seminars and/or programs of a specific academic unit, school or department.
- For undergraduate students: Dismissal from a specific undergraduate academic unit shall not prevent undergraduate students from enrolling in other university academic units. Normally after dismissal from an academic unit, the student will be on disciplinary probation for a specified period of time.
- For graduate students: Students, including those who are enrolled in a post-baccalaureate professional program, who have been dismissed from a specific graduate academic unit may not enroll in other graduate programs unless they have gained formal admission to such programs.
- Removal from an individual course or section of a course. Removal precludes the student from participation in and attendance of the course or section, or any of its sessions. In multiple section courses, the student will not necessarily be allowed to transfer to another section.
- Disciplinary Probation: Indicates that the student has engaged in unacceptable behavior and may be required to report to the Title IX Coordinator or her designee and meet specific conditions related to the violation during the probationary period. Additionally, the student is given written notice that any further violations of university policies may result in more severe sanctions such as removal from university housing, suspension, dismissal from an academic unit or expulsion from the university.
- Warning: Written notice to the student that continued or repeated violations may be cause for further disciplinary action, normally in the form of disciplinary probation, suspension or expulsion.
- Restitution: Reimbursement for damage to university property or for misappropriation of university property or services may be imposed in combination with other disciplinary action where appropriate. The student may be required to make reimbursement to the university for property damages incurred as a result of a violation of this code. Such reimbursement may take the form of monetary payment or appropriate service to repair or otherwise compensate for damages. Restitution may be assigned for minor damage to the property of individuals or groups within the university community, but adjudication of student discipline usually will defer determination of significant restitution to other appropriate processes.
- Organizational Sanctions: All residential and non-residential organizations, clubs and similar organized groups are responsible for compliance with university rules and regulations. Upon a determination that the group has encouraged violations or did not take reasonable steps as a group to prevent violations of university rules and regulations, the group may be subjected to permanent or temporary removal of recognition/registration, social probation, denial of the use of university facilities or other appropriate sanctions (see G.2 Group Responsibility for Student Organizations).
- Other Sanctions: Other sanctions may be imposed instead of or in addition to those specified in the above list. Examples include but are not limited to: university housing reassignment or removal, restrictions upon or denial of driving privileges on campus, prohibition of student leadership opportunities, counseling, community service work, research projects, seminars, classes or other educational experiences deemed appropriate. Certain sanctions also may be assigned as “deferred” under appropriate circumstances (e.g., deferred removal from housing, deferred suspension from the university, deferred loss of organizational recognition).
17.07 Appeals Process
- Following the initial review, either the accused student or the complaining student may file a written appeal within 10 business days from receipt of the written decision.
- In most cases the status of a student will not be altered and disciplinary sanctions are not initiated until completion of the appeal. Written appeals should be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator. The appeal must be submitted within the 10-business-day appeal period.
- The written appeal must include the Appeal Request Cover Sheet indicating the specific grounds for the appeal, supporting arguments and documentation, and any other relevant information the accused student or the complaining student wishes to include. Appellants should refer to Guidelines for Writing Appeals, a document available from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards or the office of the Title IX Coordinator. The appellant and respondent should be aware that all appeals are documentary reviews in which no oral testimony is taken and no oral argument takes place. Generally appeals are determined solely on the merits of the documents submitted. Appellate documents therefore should be as complete as possible.
- Appeals must state one or more of the following criteria as the reason for the appeal:
- That new evidence has become available which is sufficient to alter the decision and which the appellant was not aware of or which could not have been reasonably obtained at the time of the original review.
- That the sanction imposed is excessive, insufficient or inappropriate.
- That the investigator failed to follow university rules while reviewing the cited behavior.
- Upon receipt of the written appeal, the other principal party to the original complaint (complaining student or accused student) is notified in writing within one business day and provided 10 business days to respond in writing to the appeal. Should an appeal be filed, the other party also will be notified of the basis for the appeal. If new evidence is provided as part of the appeal, that new evidence will also be shared with the other party.
- Appeals are heard by the Student Behavior Appeals Panel, which recommends a decision. The draft decisions of the Student Behavior Appeals Panel may be reviewed and modified by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs before they are issued as decisions. Whether the Vice Provost modifies the draft decision is a matter of his or her discretion, and if he or she decides to do so it is based upon the record of the case. Once approved by the Vice Provost, the decisions are final and binding upon all parties. There is no further appeal.The members of this panel are appointed by the President or the Vice Provost, who is the President’s delegate. Each appeal is reviewed by three members including at least one faculty member; the President or the President’s delegate will decide whether or not to include a student. The panel will be advised by an adviser designated by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, who is trained in USC procedures and the requirements of Title IX. The adviser will be a non-voting member whenever the panel convenes.The Student Behavior Appeals Panel will meet as needed to consider appeals concerning sexual misconduct or discrimination.
- After receiving all appellate documents, the appeals panel will review the submitted appellate documents, the written decision from the initial review and supporting documents relevant to the initial review decision. In addition, the appeals panel may request additional statements from the investigator.
- Upon review of the appeal, the appeals panel may uphold the initial decision in its entirety, modify the factual findings, increase sanctions of the initial decision, decrease or change sanctions of the initial decision, remand the case back to the investigator, or dismiss the case.
- The written decision will be issued through the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee to all principal parties to the initial review. The university will provide both the reporting student and the accused student at the same time the final results of the disciplinary proceeding. Final results are available only after the appeal process has been exhausted, or waived, and the university has made a final determination in the matter. The final result will include the determination whether or not there was a violation and the reasons, and the reporting student and the accused student will be given a summary of any sanction imposed.
Revised September 2013.