Filing a Formal Complaint
A formal complaint is a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator requesting that the university investigate one or more allegations of sexual harassment (as defined herein) by a respondent. The formal complaint document should include identifying information about the respondent, if known, and information about the alleged prohibited conduct, such as the date, time, and place of the incident.
At the time of filing a formal complaint, the complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in an educational program or activity of The University of Tampa. For complainants who do not meet this criteria, the University will utilize existing policy and procedures in the Student Code of Conduct, the Employee Handbook, or the Faculty Handbook to investigate and address, if appropriate, the reported conduct.
If a complainant does not wish to make a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator may determine a formal complaint is necessary and will sign the formal complaint. In these limited situations, where the safety of the UT community necessitates this type of action, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the complainant of this decision in writing, and the complainant need not participate in the process further but will receive all notices issued under this Procedure
Nothing in the Title IX Policy, the Student Code of Conduct, the Employee Handbook, or the Faculty Handbook prevents a complainant from seeking the assistance of state or local law enforcement alongside the appropriate on-campus process.
The timeframe for the Grievance Procedure begins with the filing of a formal complaint. The Grievance Procedure, including the timeframe for resolving any appeal, will be concluded within a reasonably prompt manner, and may be extended in limited circumstances for good cause, including but not limited to the absence of a party, a party’s advisor, or a witness; concurrent law enforcement activity; or the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities. When the timeframe has been extended, written notice will be provided to the complainant and respondent of the delay or extension as well as the reason for such delay or extension.
A Title IX formal complaint may be filed at any time with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail to:
Donna Popovich, Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator
Southard Family Building, Room 271
Once a formal complaint is received by the Title IX Coordinator, the Title IX Coordinator and/or designated Title IX Deputy Coordinator will review the formal complaint to ensure Title IX jurisdictional requirements are met.
Determining Title IX Jurisdiction
A determination on Title IX jurisdiction is required before the initiation of any Title IX formal resolution options. Title IX jurisdiction is determined by the Title IX Coordinator and/or designee. The Title IX Coordinator and/or designee will determine jurisdiction and whether a Title IX formal complaint and alleged prohibited conduct is within the scope of the Title IX Policy based on the following factors:
- Whether the alleged prohibited conduct, if proven, meets the definition of prohibited Sexual Harassment within the Title IX Policy;
- Whether the alleged conduct occurred in the University’s education program or activity; and
- Whether the alleged conduct occurred against a person in the United States of America.
If all of the elements are met, UT will investigate the allegations according to the Title IX Grievance Procedure.
If any of the above factors is not met, the Title IX Coordinator and/or designee must dismiss the formal complaint. Each party may appeal a mandatory dismissal using the procedure outlined in the “Appeals,” section below.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee may also choose, in their discretion and at any time during the investigation or hearing, to dismiss the formal complaint or any allegation therein if it is determined that the allegations or circumstances meet one of the following criteria:
- The complainant withdraws his or her formal complaint or any allegation therein by notifying the Title IX Coordinator in writing;
- The respondent no longer is enrolled at or employed by the University;
- There are specific circumstances that prevent the University from gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or the allegations therein
Each party may appeal a discretionary dismissal using the procedure outlined in the “Appeals,” section below.
Allegations Potentially Falling Under Two Policies and Consolidated of Formal Complaints
If the alleged conduct, if true, includes conduct that would constitute sexual harassment under this policy as well as conduct that would not constitute sexual harassment under this policy, the Grievance Procedure will be applied to the investigation and adjudication of only the allegations that constitute sexual harassment under this policy. The University may still address the alleged conduct that falls outside of sexual harassment under this policy, through other University policies or procedures, including the Student Code of Conduct, the Employee Handbook, and the Faculty Handbook. In that instance, the information and allegations will be referred to the appropriate university office responsible for review of the alleged prohibited behavior and that conduct will be addressed in accordance with the process set forth in the applicable policy.
The University may consolidate formal complaints as to allegations of sexual harassment against more than one respondent, or by more than one complainant against one or more respondents, or by one party against the other party, where the allegations of sexual harassment arise out of the same facts or circumstances.
Notice of Dismissal
Upon reaching a decision that the formal complaint or any allegations therein will be dismissed under either the mandatory or discretionary dismissal provisions, the institution will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and the reason for the dismissal, simultaneously to the parties through their University email accounts if they are a student or employee, and by other reasonable means if they are neither. It is the responsibility of parties to maintain and regularly check their email accounts.
Even if the University dismisses the formal complaint under the mandatory or discretionary dismissal provisions above, it may still address the alleged conduct through other University policies or procedures, including the Student Code of Conduct, the Employee Handbook, and the Faculty Handbook. In that instance, the information and allegations will be referred to the appropriate university office responsible for review of the alleged prohibited behavior and that conduct will be addressed in accordance with the process set forth in the applicable policy.
Title IX Formal Resolutions: Title IX Investigations
Once a formal complaint requesting a Title IX Investigation is received and is determined by the Title IX Coordinator or designee to meet the jurisdictional requirements, the University will begin a Title IX investigation in accordance with University policy. The University of Tampa will investigate all allegations made in a formal complaint that have been accepted by the Title IX Coordinator. All investigations will be conducted by a trained university investigator(s) who will be free of any bias or conflict of interest. The Title IX Coordinator and/or designee will send written notice to the Complainant and Respondent indicating receipt of a formal complaint and the commencement of the formal university grievance procedure. Such notice will occur as soon as practicable, after the institution receives the formal complaint and the jurisdictional determination is made, if there are no extenuating circumstances.
The parties will be notified by their University email accounts if they are a student or employee, and by other reasonable means if they are neither.
Notice of Allegations
This notice, which is sent to both complainant and respondent, will include at a minimum:
- Notice of the allegations potentially constituting Title IX sexual harassment, and sufficient details known at the time the Notice is issued, such as the identities of the parties involved in the incident, if known, including the complainant; the alleged conduct constituting sexual harassment; and the date and location of the alleged incident, if known.
- A copy of the complaint and any other reports or evidence obtained by the Title IX Coordinator at the initiation of the case.
- Notice of UT’s Title IX Policy and Grievance Procedure and a hyperlink to a copy of the procedure.
- A statement that the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance procedure.
- A statement that the burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination and the burden of proving a violation of the Title IX Policy is on the University and not on the complainant or respondent.
- A statement that the University will not restrict the ability of parties to discuss the allegations or gather and present relevant evidence. The complainant and respondent will have an equal opportunity to present fact or expert witnesses and other evidence.
- A statement that the complainant and respondent parties have the right to an advisor of their choice, including an attorney, who may accompany them during any meetings in relation to the complaint.
- A statement that before the conclusion of the investigation, the parties may inspect and review evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint, including the evidence upon which the University does not intend to rely in reaching a determination regarding responsibility, and evidence that both tends to prove or disprove the allegations, whether obtained from a party or another source.
- A statement on the University’s retaliation policy.
- A statement providing the respondent five (5) business days from receipt of the notice to provide a written response to the allegations to the Title IX Coordinator and/or designated individual listed in the notice.
- A statement providing both the complainant and the respondent the opportunity to meet with the Title IX Investigator(s) for a Pre-Investigative meeting to discuss the Title IX formal resolution process. This meeting is not an investigative interview.
The University will provide sufficient time for the parties to review the Notice of Allegations and prepare a response before any initial interview is scheduled.
The Title IX Coordinator and/or designee may again determine at this point that the formal complaint must be dismissed on the mandatory grounds identified above, and will issue a Notice of Dismissal, if applicable. If such a determination is made, any party to the allegations of sexual harassment identified in the formal complaint will receive the Notice of Dismissal in conjunction with, or in separate correspondence after, the Notice of Allegations.
If, in the course of an investigation, the University decides to investigate allegations about the complainant or respondent that are not included in the Notice of Allegations and are otherwise sexual harassment as defined in the Title IX Policy, the University will notify the parties whose identities are known of the additional allegations by their University email accounts or other reasonable means if they are not a student or employee of the university.
The parties will be provided sufficient time to review the additional allegations to prepare a response before any initial interview regarding those additional allegations.
The University of Tampa has developed an investigative process to review formal complaints alleging prohibited Title IX Sexual Harassment. Complaints will be assigned to a trained University investigator(s) by the Title IX Coordinator and/or designee. Both the investigator and Title IX Coordinator or designee will be free of bias or any conflict of interest. The investigator(s) will perform an investigation under a reasonably prompt timeframe of the conduct alleged to constitute as Title IX sexual harassment after issuing the Notice of Allegations. The University investigator(s) will be responsible for conducting a thorough, impartial, and fact-finding investigative process in accordance with outlined University policies and procedures.
The University and not the parties, has the burden of proof and the burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination, i.e. the responsibility of showing a violation of this Policy has occurred. This burden does not rest with either party, and either party may decide not to share their account of what occurred or may decide not to participate in an investigation or hearing. This does not shift the burden of proof away from UT and does not indicate responsibility.
The University cannot access, consider, or disclose medical records without a waiver from the party (or parent, if applicable) to whom the records belong or of whom the records include information. UT will provide an equal opportunity for the parties to present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence, (i.e. evidence that tends to prove and disprove the allegations) as described below.
During the University investigation, evidence may also be collected in the form of investigative interviews.
Complainant and Respondent Investigative Interviews
The complainant and respondent each will be contacted for an investigative interview by the case’s assigned Title IX investigator(s) to provide information regarding the formal complaint and the alleged Title IX policy violation(s). During the investigative interview, the complainant and the respondent may be accompanied by an advisor of their choice who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney. The advisor may assist in providing information to the University investigator(s). During the investigation, the University may set restrictions on the role of the advisor, which will apply equally to complainant and respondent. During this initial interview, the complainant and respondent may provide additional inculpatory and exculpatory evidence to the investigator(s). Inculpatory evidence is evidence that may be favorable to the Complainant. Exculpatory evidence is evidence that may be favorable to the Respondent. Additionally, parties may identify and supply contact information for relevant witnesses to the University investigator(s). Investigator(s) may, at their discretion, meet with the complainant and the respondent for follow-up meetings as they determine necessary.
When a party is expected or invited to participate in a meeting, the investigator(s) will provide the date, time, location, participants, and an explanation of the purpose of the meeting in sufficient time for the party to prepare for the meeting.
Interview Review for Complainant and Respondent Parties
The complainant and respondent will be provided an opportunity to review the interview statements obtained by the Title IX investigator during the interview that they provided. University investigators will provide a summary of their respective interview to each party for review. The complainant and respondent parties will have two (2) business days to review their initial interview summaries and provide feedback to the investigator(s).
Investigative Interviews with Relevant Witnesses
The University investigator(s) may conduct other interviews with relevant witnesses. Witnesses and other relevant parties are not permitted to have advisors during their meetings with the investigator(s). University investigators will provide a summary of their witness interview to each relevant witness for review. Witnesses will have two (2) business days to review their interview summaries and provide feedback to investigators.
Inspection and Review of Evidence
Prior to the completion of the investigation, and after the University investigator(s) have completed their initial investigation and interviews, the University investigator(s) will submit a preliminary report to the complainant and respondent. The parties will have an equal opportunity to inspect and review the evidence obtained through the investigation, which will be provided to the parties and their advisors, if any, in electronic form or hard copy. The purpose of the inspection and review process is to allow each party the equal opportunity to meaningfully respond to the evidence prior to conclusion of the investigation. As provided below, the complainant and respondent will have ten (10) business days to inspect, review, and respond to the preliminary report.
Preliminary Investigative Report
This report will include at a minimum the following:
- A summary of the formal complaint.
- A summary of the statements made by the complainant and respondent.
- A summary of the statements made by other relevant witnesses.
- All expert witness and/or inculpatory and exculpatory evidence provided by the complainant, respondent, or any other individuals.
- All other information relevant to the investigation as determined by the University investigator.
- A summary of relevant evidence provided during the investigation.
The investigator will provide the complainant and respondent either a hard copy or electronic version of the report where appropriate.
Preliminary Investigative Report Response
The complainant and respondent will have ten (10) business days to inspect, review, and respond to the preliminary report and evidence. The Complainant and Respondent must submit their responses to the preliminary investigative report and evidence to their assigned University investigator(s) in writing within the allotted ten (10) business days, for the investigator(s) to consider the response prior to the completion of the final investigative report.
Any evidence subject to inspection and review will be available at any hearing, including for purposes of cross-examination. It should be noted that statements made by a party or witness may not be considered in making a determination at the hearing, if the party or witness is not available at the hearing for cross-examination.
Upon timely receipt of the complainant and respondent responses, which will be considered by the investigation, the University investigator(s) will complete a final investigative report. This report will include at a minimum the following:
- A summary of the formal complaint.
- All summary of the statements made by the complainant and respondent.
- All summary of the statements made by other relevant witnesses.
- All expert witness and/or inculpatory and exculpatory evidence provided by the complainant, respondent, or any other individual.
- All other information relevant to the investigation as determined by the University investigator.
- A summary of relevant evidence provided during the investigation.
- All timely written responses provided by the complainant and respondent.
This final investigative report will be submitted along with the formal complaint to the Title IX Hearing Board in charge of determining violations of the Title IX policy. The complainant and respondent will have at least (10) business days to inspect, review, and respond to any information contained within the final investigative report before appearing before a hearing panel.
Disclaimer: If at any time during the investigatory process it is determined that the alleged conduct does not meet the definition of sexual harassment or did not occur in a school’s educational program or activity against a person in the United States, the University must dismiss the formal complaint. However, the University may address the alleged conduct through other appropriate University policies and processes.
General Rules of Hearings
The University will not issue a disciplinary sanction arising from an allegation of Title IX sexual harassment without holding a live hearing. Complainants and respondents may not waive the right to a hearing.
The live hearing may be conducted with all parties physically present in the same geographic location, or, at the University’s discretion, any or all parties, witnesses, and other participants may appear at the live hearing virtually through videoconferencing, if available. This technology will enable participants simultaneously to see and hear each other.
Continuances or Granting Extensions
In limited and extenuating circumstances, the University may determine that multiple sessions or a continuance (i.e. a pause on the continuation of the hearing until a later date or time) is needed to complete a hearing. If so, the University will notify all participants and endeavor to accommodate all participants’ schedules and complete the hearing as promptly as practicable.
Participants in the Hearing
Title IX hearings are not public, and the individuals permitted to participate in the hearing are the complainant and the respondent, a hearing advisor to the complainant, a hearing advisor for the respondent, investigator(s), witnesses, and the hearing panel. While hearings are not public, individuals who are not members of the University community may be present if they serve in the capacity of a witness, hearing advisor, or other individual permitted to participate in the hearing.
It should be noted that the University may still proceed with the hearing in the absence of a party, and may reach a determination of responsibility in his or her absence, including through any evidence gathered that does not constitute a “statement” by that party. The University may also proceed with the hearing in the absence of a witness.
The Hearing Board
The Hearing Board will be responsible for conducting an objective evaluation of all relevant information provided by the complainant, respondent, investigator(s), and witnesses during the hearing. The hearing board will also be responsible for reviewing all information contained within the investigation report. While the hearing board may make credibility determinations, those determinations will not be made based on a person’s status as complainant, respondent, or witness. After review of the information provided in the investigative report and during the hearing, the Hearing Board will determine whether a respondent is found responsible for violating university policy. This determination will be made by utilizing the preponderance of the evidence standard, which will apply to the determination of all formal complaints regardless of whether the parties are students, faculty, or employees.
Hearing Board Members
The Hearing Board will consist of trained University faculty and/or staff members, or trained designees. The hearing board members assigned to a Title IX case must be free from conflict and/or bias in relation to the complainant and the respondent and their Title IX case either generally or specifically.
Hearing Board Chairperson
Each Hearing Board will have a designated chairperson whose responsibilities include responding to any procedural questions that may arise during a Title IX Hearing. Additionally, the chairperson will be responsible for making determinations regarding the relevancy of questions and information provided during the hearing.
Hearing Advisor (for the Complainant or the Respondent Parties)
To facilitate aspects of the University Hearing Board, the Complainant and Respondent will be required to have an advisor present during the Title IX Hearing. The Complainant and Respondent may choose to select their own advisor or request the University provide one for the Hearing, which will be provided without charge. All requests for advisors must be made at least five (5) business days prior to the scheduled hearing. The purpose of the advisor will be to assist their advisee (the Complainant or the Respondent) and to facilitate any questioning and requests for information on behalf of their advisee. The advisor may speak when recognized during the Hearing, however; the advisor may not unduly disrupt the Hearing process. If the advisors’ behavior is determined by the Hearing Board Chairperson to be an impediment to the hearing board process, the Hearing may be adjourned or delayed until a time the party can select a new advisor or that an advisor can be appointed by the University at the request of the party. Hearing advisors, along with the party they represent, may participate in a pre-hearing management meeting with the Title IX Coordinator and/or designee to address any hearing board rules and for further information on what to expect during the hearing.
Hearing Board Meeting Procedure
The Complainant and Respondent will have the opportunity to appear before a University Hearing Board prior to determination of responsibility for the alleged university prohibited conduct in the formal complaint. The Hearing Board will have at least ten (10) business days to review the Investigator(s) final report prior to Title IX Hearing. Each hearing board at a minimum will consist of three (3) trained individuals who are free from conflict and/or bias in relation to the Complainant and Respondent, the Complainant and Respondent (if participating), their chosen or assigned advisors, the University investigator(s), and any applicable witness(es). The University reserves the right to proceed with a hearing in absence of the Complainant and/or Respondent if all procedural notifications were met as determined by the hearing board chairperson.
The hearing board will review all submitted information by all parties. This includes information submitted within the University investigation report and presented by investigator(s), parties, and witnesses during the hearing. The hearing board will have the ability to ask relevant questions to all parties making statements during the hearing. While the hearing board may review the final investigative report information, when making a determination of responsibility, the hearing board may not rely on statements made by a witness or party within the final investigative report, if the witness and/or party to the case is not present during the hearing. Any cross-examination of a witness or party must be done by the advisor for the party, not by the party, and it must be done directly, orally, and in real time. Before any question is answered on cross-examination, the hearing board chairperson must decide whether the question is relevant. If the question is excluded, the hearing board chairperson must explain the basis for the decision.
Hearing Board meetings are closed to the public. Upon request of the respondent or complainant, the live hearing may occur with the parties in separate rooms and the use of technology to allow the participants to see and hear each other. In addition, other accommodations may be made, in the discretion of the University, to hold meetings virtually in part or entirely as determined necessary by the hearing board chairperson.
Admission of any person to the hearing shall be at the sole discretion of the hearing board chairperson. Hearings may not be disrupted by any party. The hearing board chairperson has the authority to remove any individual who is disruptive to the hearing board process and postpone or delay any proceeding until an appropriate level of decorum is restored. Each hearing will have a sole verbatim record of the proceeding, which will be available for review or inspection by the parties. All procedural questions are resolved by a final decision of the hearing board chairperson.
The Hearing board will determine responsibility by a majority vote by using the preponderance of the evidence standard. This decision will be communicated to the Complainant and Respondent in an official outcome letter sent within ten (10) business days of the conclusion of the hearing.
Determination of Responsibility: Hearing Board Outcome Letter
Standard of Proof
The University of Tampa uses the preponderance of the evidence standard for investigations and determinations regarding responsibility of formal complaints covered under this Title IX Policy. This means that the investigation and hearing will determine whether it is more likely than not that a violation of the Title IX Policy occurred.
Components of the Hearing Board Outcome Letter
The written Hearing Board Outcome Letter (or “determination letter”) will be issued simultaneously to all parties through their University email account, or other reasonable means as necessary. The determination letter will include:
- Identification of the allegations potentially constituting Title IX sexual harassment;
- Description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with the parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held;
- Findings of fact supporting the determination;
- Conclusions regarding which section of the Title IX Policy, if any, the Respondent has or has not violated.
- For each allegation, a statement of, and rationale for, a determination regarding responsibility;
- The recipient’s procedures and the permitted reasons for the complainant and respondent to appeal (described below in “Appeal”).
Timeline of the Hearing Board Outcome Letter
If there are no extenuating circumstances, the determination regarding responsibility will be issued by the University Hearing Board within (10) business days of the completion of the hearing.