Addressing Changes To Investigations and Adjudications During Campus Closure and Times of Social Distancing
Truman State University
To protect the safety of all parties, witnesses, and the campus community from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and accompanying public health and governmental orders and directives designed to reduce the in-person interactions, temporary modifications to certain procedures and practices have been made. Should there be a lifting of the directives and orders, these modifications will be altered and/or withdrawn.
The purpose of these modifications is to allow Truman State and our students, faculty, staff and the public to move forward in an efficient, timely and safe manner. The institution will not negotiate any elements of these modifications, although flexibility and impracticality will serve as our guide.
Truman State recognizes that it is in the interest of all involved parties that discrimination cases are processed in a thorough and expeditious manner. All relevant rights will be enforced and extended during the investigation and adjudication process. At no time will fundamental fairness or due process considerations be infringed.
POLICY: All students, faculty, staff and visitors at Truman State University are bound by the University Non-Discrimination Policy (Policy) and the Non-Discrimination Complaint Reporting and Resolution Procedures (Procedures.) The Policy defines what conduct is prohibited and the possible sanctions from those violations and the Procedures govern how Truman State will receive, investigate and adjudicate any alleged violations. The Policy and the Procedures remain in effect, even in these times of Campus Closure and Social Distancing.
TIMELINES: The institution will be flexible with time frames unless there is a clear reason not to or a party is seeking to abuse the process.
ADVISOR: The parties have the right to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice to any meeting or hearing that they are eligible or required to attend. Advisors may be an attorney, but advisors are not allowed to directly participate in the process. Parties are responsible for securing a technological process to communicate with their advisor during a meeting or hearing.
A party may request a pause to the proceedings where they can mute participation and communicate directly with their advisor via a separate phone or communication device. The institution recognizes that the inability of advisors and parties to be in the same room may present additional challenges, and will generally be flexible with reasonable requests for pauses in the proceedings by one or all parties unless doing so would be prejudicial to any party or an abuse of the process. Advisors may also communicate with their advisees in writing (such as via text message or messaging service.)
Rules about the number of advisors and participation of advisors remain in place. To ensure equity and observance of the rules, during any remote meeting or hearing, the parties will be asked to show that they are only being advised by one advisor.
EQUIPMENT: To maintain the integrity of the investigation and adjudication process, it is imperative that before any meeting or hearing, complainants and respondents immediately notify the Administrative Officer if they do not have access to a reliable internet connection, computers, microphones and/or webcams.
PROCESS: Any in-person meeting or hearing to which a Complainant and/or Respondent is eligible or required to attend will be may conducted via Zoom and/or by telephone if Zoom is not available or operational when governmental directives and order prohibit or recommend against in-person interactions. When such directives and orders are lifted, the institution will remain safety conscious and when feasible, take actions to support the requested safety considerations of complainants, respondents, witnesses and advisors. The institution will not require in-person participation that could put a party or any other individual at a health or safety risk.
The institution will send proposed times for the parties to accept within their schedules and responsibilities. The institution will work with the parties to identify and resolve challenges to participation involving access to technology to ensure, to the best of our abilities. Any requests for technological accommodations based on a disclosed disability must be conveyed to the Student Access and Disability Services Office (for students) or Human Resources (for employees) before a meeting or hearing convenes. Failure to seek an accommodation will serve as a waiver and the meeting or hearing will not be repeated.
An advisor or support person may accompany all parties and witnesses for Zoom meetings and hearings although the Zoom connection will not be used for confidential communication between a party/witness and their advisor. All meetings and hearings will require password entrance. For confidentiality and privacy reasons, the sharing of passwords or attempts to include uninvited persons to meetings and hearings is forbidden. It is the responsibility of the party to provide their advisor’s contact information to the Administrative Officer at least 24 hours in advance of any meeting or hearing.
Certain cases may be unable to move forward due to technological limitations, complexity of the issues and testimony or the inability of one or more parties to participate.
SUBMISSION OF EVIDENCE: Any evidence, record or document that either party wishes to submit should be emailed directly to the Administrative Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org consistent with the timelines set by the Administrative Officer.
ACCESS TO EVIDENCE: The Procedures allow both the complainant and the respondent with access to complainant, respondent and witness statements, and other relevant materials prior to finalization of the Investigative Report. The Procedures do not allow for retention of this evidence.
The institution will provide the parties either access to a Google Docs storage cloud box for reviewing documents, photographs, videos, and other evidence related to open cases.
Review of the content of the evidence is limited to the parties and their advisors. The institution may be unable to make certain evidence available for review using such a system. Adjudication decisions will not be made upon evidence not available for all parties’ review through this online review system.
When directives and orders are lifted, the institution will remain safety conscious and when feasible, allow in-person access to evidence. The institution will not require in-person participation that could put a party or any other individual at a health or safety risk.
Access to evidence does not include downloading, copying, taking a photo image, or retaining a replica of the any page or portion thereof of any evidence. Parties may take notes.
Parties and their advisors may not copy or share information uploaded to a Google Doc or viewed in-person. Violations of the rules governing transmission and/or the review of documents through a storage account or in-person viewing constitute a violation of the Student Code of Conduct for students and/or a violation a legitimately issued work rule for faculty and employees resulting in disciplinary action.
PHONE CALLS AND DIGITAL MEETINGS: All phone calls and digital meetings will be recorded and retained solely for the use of the institution. In order to ensure consistency and standards of process, the institution will record all meetings, hearings and calls. Recordings shall be part of the investigative file. Those records remain the property of Truman State University and may contain personal information of the parties and other students or employees.
SANCTIONS: Parties will not be required by the institution to complete in-person sanctions that could put the party or any other individual at a health or safety risk. The institution will, as a matter of course, consider requests for modifications of sanctions to either extend the timeline for completion to a time when the public health risks have passed or to select another sanction that does not require in-person contact.
QUESTIONS ON INVESTIGATIONS AND ADJUDICATIONS IN AGE OF COVID-19
If you still have a question, submit by email to email@example.com .