Alternate Review Process

Procedures

 

  1. Most serious allegations of misconduct within the Stanford student community will proceed through the disciplinary process set forth under the Student Judicial Charter of 1997.  Allegations of misconduct relating to sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship violence or stalking will proceed through the Alternate Review Process (ARP).  The Board on Judicial Affairs adopted this Process on January 29, 2013.

 

  1. Review of Standard of Proof on Change of Federal Standard

The Alternate Review Process utilizes the preponderance of the evidence as the standard of proof. This decision is based on the direction provided to universities in the Dear Colleague letter from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR), dated April 4, 2011. Should OCR change its position on this issue (through legislation, court decision, a withdrawal of the April 4, 2011 letter or other federal action), the Board on Judicial Affairs will undertake a review of the standard of proof and consider the appropriate standard of proof for the Alternate Review Process. Any recommendation of the Board on Judicial Affairs to change the standard of proof must be approved by the ASSU and Faculty Senate.

  1. Selection of Matters for the Alternate Review Process

 

  1. Obligations of the Office of Community Standards.  All concerns of misconduct must be filed with the Office of Community Standards.  Matters eligible for the Alternate Review Process must also have standing to go forward through the Office of Community Standards; that is: 

1.  There must be jurisdiction for the matter under the Judicial Charter;

2.  The Responding Student must have a student status at the time of the alleged misconduct;

3.  A concern of misconduct must be filed with the Office of Community Standards prior to the Responding Student’s degree conferral;

4.  The matter must be timely under the Judicial Charter’s statute of limitations; and

5.  The matter – with all facts of the concern taken as true – must rise to the level of a Fundamental Standard or serious policy violation.  Matters that do not meet these threshold criteria will not proceed to the Alternate Review Process.

  1. Once a threshold determination of standing is made, the Office of Community Standards will review each concern of student misconduct that it receives to see whether it includes concerns of sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship violence or stalking.  If such allegations are present, the Office of Community Standards will refer the matter to the Alternate Review Process.

                                                                                                  

  1. Obligations of all Participants

 

  1. Stanford community members are expected to participate in this process and cooperate fully, although efforts will be made where possible to accommodate schedules to reduce the burden of participation on parties and witnesses. 
  1. Unless both parties agree otherwise, parties will not communicate with one another regarding the incident in question once the process has begun.
  2. To the extent permitted by law, parties and witnesses will maintain the confidentiality of the process.  This subsection is not to imply that students going through the process as an Impacted Party or Responding Student are prevented from speaking to parents, counselors or confidantes or from reporting the matter to local authorities.

 

  1. Rights of Responding Student

 

The Responding Student is the student about whom a concern has been raised.  The Responding Student has the following rights.

  1. To receive a written copy of the following: 
  1. The concern at the time it is filed with the Office of Community Standards;
  1. If charges are issued, the Investigation File (including the concern, Notice of Charges, Investigator’s Summary Report, Witness Statements and any relevant documents);
  2. The Reviewers’ Finding of Fact (the write-up from the Reviewers that provides their findings relating to the matter, their decision on the charges and their reasoning);
  3. If the Responding Student is found responsible, the Reviewers’ Sanction Report (the write-up from the Reviewers that provides their decision regarding the sanction and their reasoning);
  4. If an appeal is filed by the Impacted Party, a summary of the issues on appeal, a summary of the Impacted Party’s response to the Responding Student’s appeal (if any) and the Vice Provost’s final decision; and
  5. If expulsion is recommended, the Provost’s final decision.
  1. To have three of the five Reviewers be students, and two of the Reviewers be comprised of faculty or staff;
  2. To meet with the Investigator and to provide a written statement to the Investigator.
  1. To provide a written response to the Investigator’s Summary Report to the Reviewers.
  1. To meet with the Reviewers.
  1. To listen (as for example through a phone connection) to all of the Reviewers’ interviews of the Impacted Party and witnesses and to be given an opportunity to provide follow-up questions to the Reviewers for their consideration to ask of the Impacted Party and each witness as provided in section XIV(C).
  1. To be considered innocent until found responsible by a preponderance of the evidence; a preponderance of the evidence is a determination that it is more likely than not that the charge is true.
  1. To have his or her identity and allegations against him or her kept reasonably confidential by the University as permitted by law and University policy, and noting that the Impacted Party in this process is entitled to information relating to the investigation, findings, sanctions (if any) and appeal outcome (if any). 
  1. To refuse to engage in self-incrimination.
  1. To request that the Investigator contact individuals who are witnesses to an event.  (An Investigator is not obligated to meet with every individual identified by the Responding Student if the Investigator reasonably determines the individual does not have relevant information or offers cumulative information.)
  1. To be given access to all interview summaries and written documentation that are included in the Investigation File – except that sensitive or identifying information may be redacted where such information is not reasonably necessary for the Responding Student to defend herself or himself.
  1. Upon a finding of responsibility, to provide a Sanction Statement (a statement from the Responding Student explaining any mitigating circumstances relating to sanctioning) and to be disciplined under the Guide to the Penalty Code (Penalty Code) of the Office of Community Standards.
  1. To appeal a decision to and meet with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs as provided in section XV, and/or to respond to an appeal filed by the Impacted Party.
  1. To have a support person accompany him or her throughout the investigative and review process.  This individual may assist the Responding Student in all interviews by communicating directly to the Responding Student, although the support person is not permitted to speak on behalf of the Responding Student.
  1. To be provided a list of impartial and confidential Stanford faculty and staff volunteers who will be able to advise the Responding Student on the process, and to have the Office of Community Standards facilitate contact with such a counselor, if requested by the Responding Student.
  1. To have a reasonably timely determination of the matter, noting that complex cases or other circumstances may result in reasonable delay.
  1. In accord with the Charter’s statute of limitations for cases involving alleged sexual assault, relationship violence, sexual harassment, stalking, a hate crime, or physical assault, to have a charge filed no more than two years after the alleged misconduct occurred.
  1. To be assured that no record of any violation or alleged violation will be placed on his/her transcript.  Where a student is expelled, the transcript will be marked “dismissed.”  (Although the transcript will not be marked with a record of the violation, the Office of Community Standards will keep a copy of disciplinary action taken under the Alternate Review Process and such findings may be released outside of the University if requested by the Responding Student or as required by law.)
  1. In matters involving a recommendation of expulsion, to have the right to appeal the recommendation to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, prior to the recommendation being sent to the Provost for final consideration and decision.
  1. To have only one Stanford process decide responsibility and impose sanctions for the same alleged misconduct.  (Nothing in this right, including a finding of non-responsibility, precludes the University from taking non-disciplinary actions the University deems appropriate for alleged misconduct to protect the Stanford community, such as removal from a position of trust, removal from Stanford housing, or imposing a stay away order.
  1. To be offered reasonable protection from retaliation, intimidation, harassment and/or malicious prosecution.
  1. To be informed, in writing, of these rights.

 

  1. Rights of the Impacted Party

The Impacted Party is the target of the alleged misconduct by the Responding Student.  The Impacted Party has the following rights.

  1. To receive a written copy of the following:
  1. The concern at the time it is filed with the Office of Community Standards;
  1. If charges are issued, the Investigation File (including the concern, Notice of Charges, Investigator’s Summary Report, Witness Statements and any relevant documents);
  1. The Reviewers’ Finding of Fact (the write-up from the Reviewers that provides their findings relating to the matter, their decision on the charges and their reasoning);
  1. If the Responding Student is found responsible, the Reviewers’ Sanction Report (the write-up from the Reviewers that provides their decision regarding the sanction and their reasoning);
  1. If an appeal is filed by the Responding Student, a summary of the issues on appeal, a summary of the Responding Student’s response to the Impacted Party’s appeal (if any), and the Vice Provost’s final decision; and
  1. If expulsion is recommended, the Provost’s final decision.

B.  To have three of the five Reviewers be students, and two of the Reviewers be comprised of faculty or staff.

C.  To meet with the Investigator and to provide a written statement to the Investigator.

  1. To provide a written response to the Investigator’s Summary Report to the Reviewers.
  1. To meet with the Reviewers.
  1. To listen (as for example through a phone connection) to all of the Reviewers’ interviews of the Responding Student and witnesses and to be given an opportunity to provide follow-up questions to the Reviewers for their consideration to ask of the Responding Student and each witness (as provided in section XIV(D)).
  1. To have the Reviewers decide responsibility by a preponderance of the evidence standard of proof; a preponderance of the evidence is a determination that it is more likely than not that the charge is true.
  2. To have his or her identity and the allegations of the misconduct kept reasonably confidential by the University as provided by law and University policy.
  3. To refuse to engage in self-incrimination.
  1. To request that the Investigator contact individuals who are witnesses to an event.  (An Investigator is not obligated to meet with every individual proffered by the Impacted Party if the Investigator reasonably determines the individual does not have relevant information or offers cumulative information.)
  1. To be given access to all interview summaries and written documentation that are included in the Investigation File – except that sensitive or identifying information may be redacted where such information is not reasonably necessary for a decision on the charges.
  1. Upon a finding of responsibility by the Reviewers, to provide a written Impact Statement.
  1. To appeal a decision to and meet with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs as provided in section XV and/or to respond to an appeal filed by the Responding Student.

N.  To have a support person accompany him or her throughout the investigative and review process.  This individual may assist the Impacted Party in all interviews by communicating directly to the Impacted Party, although the support person is not permitted to speak on behalf of the Impacted Party.

  1. To be provided a list of impartial and confidential Stanford faculty and staff volunteers who will be able to advise the Impacted Party on the process, and to have the Office of Community Standards facilitate contact with such a counselor, if requested by the Impacted Party.
  1. To have a reasonably timely determination of the matter, noting that complex cases or other circumstances may result in reasonable delay.
  1. In accord with the Charter’s statute of limitations for cases involving alleged sexual assault, relationship violence, sexual harassment, stalking, a hate crime, or physical assault, to file a charge no more than two years after the alleged misconduct occurred.
  1. To request not to participate in a matter (which the University will accommodate except when the overall safety of the community requires the participation of the Impacted Party).
  1.  In matters involving a recommendation of expulsion, to have the right to appeal the recommendation to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, prior to the recommendation being sent to the Provost for final consideration.
  1. To be offered reasonable protection from retaliation, intimidation, or harassment in response to his or her concern.
  1. To be informed, in writing, of these rights.

 

  1. The Rights of Witnesses

 

  1. To refuse to engage in self-incrimination.
  1. To be offered reasonable protection from retaliation, intimidation and/or harassment.
  1. To bring a support person.  The support person will not participate directly in the process; however, the witness will have the opportunity to take breaks to speak with his or her support person.
  1. To be informed, in writing, of these rights.

 

  1. Selection of Investigator and Reviewers

 

  1. Once the Dean elects the Alternate Review Process, the Dean will refer the matter to a staff member from the Office of Community Standards to conduct an investigation (Investigator).  If a member from the Office of Community Standards is not available, the Dean may select a faculty or staff member practiced in conducting University investigations. 
  1. The Reviewer Pool will consist of current or former members of the Judicial Panel Pool who complete the necessary training to serve as Reviewers.  It will, by default, consist of all such persons.  However, a body that appoints members to the Judicial Panel Pool as described in section III.B of the Charter may choose instead to limit its representatives to the Reviewer Pool to those whom it chooses to appoint directly, and provided the appointees complete the necessary training, they will be qualified to serve.
  1. The Dean will convene from the Reviewer Pool a committee of five Reviewers, three of whom will be students.  The other Reviewers will be faculty or staff.  The Dean will make reasonable efforts to identify Reviewers who will fairly and impartially review the Investigator’s Report. 
  2. The Dean will endeavor to select Reviewers who:  (1) are not biased; (2) do not have a conflict of interest in the case being considered; and (3) are not well-known to either the Impacted Party or the Responding Student.  Both the Impacted Party and the Responding Student may request the removal of Reviewers who they believe are biased or have a conflict of interest.  If a Reviewer discovers that he or she has a conflict of interest, or a perceived conflict of interest in a case being considered, that panelist may withdraw and be replaced.
  3. The standing Panel of Reviewers and the Dean of Student Life will be trained generally in matters of investigation.  Additionally, the Reviewers and the Dean of Student Life will be trained in the subject matter areas of sexual harassment, sexual assault and relationship violence.
  1. Once the Investigator and Reviewers are identified, each will receive a copy of the concern.

 

  1. Investigator’s Process & Obligations of the Office of Community Standards

 

  1. After reviewing the concern, the Investigator will map out the scope of the investigation and the relevant issues (recognizing that as the interviews go forward additional issues or witnesses may be identified).  The Investigator may communicate with the Reviewers during the Investigation to ensure that any questions or concerns that the Reviewers may have are being addressed.  Until the Investigation File is final, the Investigator and Reviewers should avoid substantive discussions about possible findings of facts.
  1. In determining whether information is relevant to the matter, the Investigator and/or Reviewers will determine whether proposed information is likely to assist in the Reviewers’ decision.
  1. If the Investigator determines that evidence (including a witness) offered by the Impacted Party or Responding Student is not relevant to the matter, the offering party may provide the Reviewers with a brief synopsis of the offered evidence and a statement describing its relevancy to a disputed issue.  The Reviewers will then make a final determination about whether to consider the offered evidence.  

2. General evidence regarding one’s sexual reputation to show a predisposition towards an act is not relevant.  Past sexual history of the Responding Student and/or Impacted Party is relevant only when the Investigator finds that a past sexual incident (or a discussion of a past sexual incident) between the parties provides direct compelling evidence on a finding. 

3. Character or reputation evidence is not relevant during the fact-finding portion of the review.  The Impacted Party and Responding Student may each provide positive character or reputation evidence regarding himself or herself during the sanctioning review phase, if any.

  1. The Investigator will speak with the Responding Student, the Impacted Party (if any) and relevant witnesses.  The Investigator will also gather relevant pre-existing written documentation.  Each party and witness will have an opportunity, but not an obligation, to provide a written statement to the Investigator. The statement may optionally include a section of questions that the Responding Student or Impacted Party would like the Investigator to ask of individual witnesses or the other party.  The Investigator will follow up on all questions she/he deems likely to elicit relevant information, and seek responses from the appropriate individuals.  All questions, asked and unasked, with their replies will be provided to the Reviewers.  The Investigator will write up an account of each interview.  The Investigator will give each interviewee an opportunity to review and comment on the Investigator’s account of his or her interview. 

After finalizing interviews and gathering all relevant documents, the Investigator will determine if there is sufficient evidence of misconduct to file formal charges against a student. 

  1. When this standard has been met, the Investigator will:
  1. prepare a Notice of Charges describing the alleged misconduct with specificity and identifying the University Codes (Fundamental Standard) and policies potentially violated;
  1. prepare an Investigator’s Summary Report, describing the misconduct at issue and the supporting and exculpatory evidence; and
  1. gather all materials into an Investigation File to be provided to the Responding Student, Impacted Party and Reviewers.
  1. When this standard has not been met, the Impacted Party may request an Evidentiary Review with four Reviewers, not assigned to the matter, at least two of whom will be students.  The Investigator will provide all witness statements and evidence to the Evidentiary Reviewers.  The Evidentiary Reviewers will speak with the Responding Student and/or Impacted Party.  After reviewing the evidence of the alleged misconduct, if three of the four Evidentiary Reviewers find there is sufficient evidence to support a charge, then the Evidentiary Reviewers will direct the Investigator to issue a Notice of Charges. If a Notice of Charges is issued, the matter will proceed as described in subsection a. 
  1. Nothing in this ARP process prevents other appropriate University processes from going forward, such as (but not limited to) a referral to Residential Education.

 

  1. Both the Responding Student and Impacted Party will have five days to respond in writing to the Investigation File (which can be extended for good cause).  Responses may optionally include a section of questions that the Responding Student or Impacted Party would like the Investigator to ask of individual witnesses or the other party.  The Investigator will follow up on all questions she/he deems likely to elicit relevant information, and seek responses from the appropriate individuals.  All questions, asked and unasked, with their replies will be provided to the Reviewers. 

 

  1. The Investigator will be available to the Reviewers to discuss the Investigation File and to assist in scheduling interviews for the review Panel, as necessary. 

 

  1. The Investigator should work in a timely manner to put together the Investigation File.  Although complex cases or cases with multiple witnesses may take longer, an Investigator should generally take 30 days or less to conduct interviews and gather materials.

 

  1. The Office of Community Standards will appoint a staff member (other than the Investigator) to be available to the review Panel to answer procedural questions.

 

  1. Reviewers’ Process & Obligations

 

  1. The Reviewers will be available to discuss the scope of the investigation with the Investigator.
  1. Each Reviewer will consider the Investigation File.  After review of the Investigation File, the Reviewers will discuss whether they would like to speak directly with any individual in the process.  The Investigation File should be thorough enough to alleviate the need for the Reviewers to meet with all but key witnesses except in rare circumstances.  Both the Responding Student and Impacted Party may require a meeting with the Reviewers. The Investigator will attend at the request of the Reviewers. 
  1. Following the Reviewers’ initial meeting with the Impacted Party, the Reviewers will take a break to give the Responding Student an opportunity via email to submit written questions to the Reviewers.  The Reviewers will consider the questions and will ask the Responding Party’s questions unless the Reviewers determine a question is problematic.  A question may be problematic because either the question itself or the response calls for:  1) repetitive or duplicative information; 2) unsubstantiated hearsay; 3) information that has no bearing on a finding; or because the question itself 4) is unduly incendiary; or 5) would cause unnecessary delay.  Further, the Panel may re-phrase questions. Unless there are no questions to be asked, the Reviewers will resume meeting with the Impacted Party to ask the Responding Student’s questions and any other questions that the Panel may have.  Following this session, another break will be taken and the Responding Student will be given a second opportunity to submit questions via email to the Panel which will also be asked by the Reviewers in accordance with the guidelines provided in this subsection.
  1. Following the Reviewers’ initial meeting with the Responding Student, the Reviewers will take a break to give the Impacted Party an opportunity via email to submit written questions to the Reviewers.  The Reviewers will consider the questions and will ask the Impacted Party’s questions unless the Reviewers determine a question is problematic. A question may be problematic because either the question itself or the response calls for:  1) repetitive or duplicative information; 2) unsubstantiated hearsay; 3) information that has no bearing on a finding; or because the question itself 4) is unduly incendiary; or 5) would cause unnecessary delay.  Further, the Panel may re-phrase questions. Unless there are no questions to be asked, the Reviewers will resume meeting with the Responding Student to ask the Impacted Party’s questions and other questions that the Panel may have.  Following this session, another break will be taken and the Impacted Party will be given a second opportunity to submit questions via email to the Panel which will also be asked by the Reviewers in accordance with the guidelines provided in this subsection.
  1. Once the Reviewers have reviewed the Investigation File, and, if applicable, spoken with parties and witnesses, they will meet to discuss the case.  The Reviewers will then issue the Reviewers’ Findings of Facts.  Findings will include a decision on all major issues of concern.  Four Reviewers must agree on a finding of responsibility for a student to be found responsible.  When one Reviewer is not in agreement with a particular finding, that will be noted in the Findings of Fact.  Findings will include a decision on whether there is sufficient evidence based on a preponderance of evidence to find a student responsible under the policies at issue (Fundamental Standard, individual University policies). 
  1. Following a finding of responsibility, the Responding Student will be provided three days to provide a written Sanction Statement and the Impacted Party will be provided three days to provide a written Impact Statement to the Reviewers (which can be extended for good cause).  Upon review of these documents, if any, if at least four of the five Reviewers find a student responsible, the Reviewers will assign sanctions under the Penalty Code of the Office of Community Standards and issue a Sanction Report.  When one Reviewer is not in agreement with a particular sanction that will be noted in the Sanction Report.
  1. The Reviewers must act in a reasonably timely manner.  Generally, the Reviewers’ Findings of Fact should be completed seven days after concluding interviews, although certain circumstances may necessitate a longer period to complete the report.  Generally, the Reviewers’ Sanction Report should be completed seven days after receipt of the Sanction Statement and Impact Statement.
  1. The Reviewers may only make a finding of responsibility and impose sanctions when they are satisfied there is sufficient evidence based on a preponderance of evidence to find the misconduct to have occurred.  
  1. Once the process is completed in cases involving a student found to be responsible, the Findings of Fact and Sanction Report will be forwarded to the Dean.  If the Dean objects to the finding in the Reviewers’ final report, or the proposed sanctions, s/he may schedule a meeting with the Reviewers to discuss their findings.
  1. After the Dean’s review under subsection I, the Responding Student and the Impacted Party will be provided a letter describing the final outcome of the matter.

 

  1. Appeal to the Vice Provost

 

  1. For purposes of an appeal to the Vice Provost, a “decision” comprises the Reviewers’ Findings of Fact and, if applicable, the Reviewers’ Sanction Report.
  1. Both the Impacted Party and Responding Student may appeal a decision at the conclusion of the Reviewers’ Process.  (The Reviewers’ Process concludes either after (i) Findings of Fact are issued concluding that the Responding Student is not responsible of any charges; or (ii) a Sanction Report is issued.)

No later than ten days after the conclusion of the Reviewers’ Process, a Responding Student or an Impacted Party may appeal the decision to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. A summary of any such appeal shall be provided to the opposing party in the matter being appealed.

  1. No later than five days after receipt of a summary of an appeal by the opposing party as provided in XV.B. above, a Responding Student or an Impacted Party in a matter may provide a response to an appeal by the opposing party in that matter.
  1. Both the Impacted Party and Responding Student have the right to meet with the Vice Provost to discuss any appeal prior to the Vice Provost’s issuance of a decision.
  2. Standards for Review and Procedural Matters
    1. The review of appeals will usually be limited to the following considerations:
      1. Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear that substantially affected the decision to the detriment of the appealing student?
      2. Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the appealing student?
      3. Given the proper facts, criteria and procedures, was the Reviewers’ decision reasonable?
  3. If the Vice Provost finds that there was an error to the detriment of the appealing student, the Vice Provost may return the matter back to the Dean for a review by a new set of Reviewers (with correction of any evidentiary or other deficiencies from the original review process), or, if the Vice Provost has enough information, the Vice Provost may issue a final decision. 

 

  1. Expulsion to the Provost

For all matters in which expulsion is recommended, the Provost will have the final review of the matter.  Both the Responding Student and Impacted Party are permitted to write a letter to the Provost in opposition to or support of the expulsion.