Georgia Southern University Statement of Commitment and Complaint Procedures on Protected Rights Issues
Statement of Commitment
As an equal opportunity institution, Georgia Southern University is committed to nondiscriminatory practices consistent with federal and state requirements and objectives. Georgia Southern University affirms its commitment to keeping its programs, activities, and workplace free of discrimination and harassment and maintaining an environment that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every person. University policy prohibits any employee, student, or patron from harassing, threatening or physically or verbally abusing another individual with the effect of unreasonably interfering with that person’s work or academic performance or of creating an intimidating or hostile work or academic environment based on that person’s membership in a protected group.
Any member of the University Community who feels he or she has experienced discrimination or harassment is encouraged, but not required, to clearly explain to the alleged offender that the behavior is objectionable and request that it cease.
The University will follow the Board of Regents Sexual Misconduct Policy 6.7. All allegations of discrimination and/or harassment not covered by the Board of Regents Sexual Misconduct Policy that are based on the protected classes named in the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy will be handled pursuant to these procedures.
Honoring the Commitment
Any employee, student, or patron who believes he or she has experienced or witnessed discriminatory, harassing, or threatening behavior should report the incident(s) promptly by notifying his/her supervisor, the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX, or any member of the University’s administration, such as a vice president, dean, department chair, supervisor, or director. Students may also notify a faculty member. In the case of violence or the threat of violence, Public Safety (Statesboro: (912) 478.5234; Armstrong/Liberty: (912) 344.3333) or another appropriate local law enforcement agency should be notified immediately.
Complaints should be initiated within 180 calendar days of when the most recent alleged behavior/action occurred or when the complainant first obtained knowledge of the allegation.
Supervisors, administrative staff, and members of the faculty shall respond immediately to complaints of discrimination and harassment by notifying the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX when they receive or otherwise become aware of such complaints. Prompt reporting of complaints is vital to the University’s ability to resolve the matter.
The following is the contact information for the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX:
| Physical Address: || Rosenwald Building, Room 1066 |
| Mailing Address: || P. O. Box 8035, Statesboro, GA 30460-8035 |
| Telephone: || 912-478-5136/ 912-478-0273 (TDD) |
| Email: || firstname.lastname@example.org |
| Online Reporting Form: || Report an Incident |
I. Rights & Responsibilities
A. Prohibition Against Retaliation
Anyone who, in good faith, reports what he or she believes to be discrimination or harassment, or who participates or cooperates in, or is otherwise associated with any investigation may not be subjected to retaliation. Anyone who believes she or he has been the target of retaliation for reporting discrimination or harassment, for participating or cooperating in, or otherwise being associated with, an investigation should immediately contact the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX. Any person found to have engaged in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action under the university Non-Retaliation/Whistleblower Protection Policy and/or any other applicable policy prohibiting retaliation.
B. Prohibited Consensual Relationships
employee, including a graduate teaching assistant, is prohibited from pursuing
or having a romantic or sexual relationship with any student or University System
of Georgia (USG) employee who the individual supervises, teaches, or evaluates
in any way. Additionally, a University employee is prohibited from pursuing or
having a romantic or sexual relationship with any student or USG employee whose
terms or conditions of education or employment the individual could directly
who violate the consensual relationship prohibition are subject to disciplinary
action under the university Amorous
Relationships Policy, up to and including termination.
University strongly supports an individual’s interest in confidentiality,
particularly in instances involving sexual misconduct. When a complainant or
alleged victim requests that his or her identity be withheld or the
allegation(s) not be investigated, the University will consider, through the
Director of Equal Opportunity/Title IX Coordinator (hereinafter Director),
whether this request can be honored while still providing a safe and
nondiscriminatory environment for the University. Honoring the request may
limit the University’s ability to respond fully to the incident and may limit
the University’s ability to discipline the respondent. The complainant or
alleged victim will be informed of any decision to act contrary to the request
for confidentiality or no investigation before any disclosures are made and
before an investigation begins.
administrator, supervisor, faculty member, responsible employee or other person
in a position of authority who is not considered a confidential resource who
knows of, or receives a complaint of, potential discrimination or harassment or
potential violation of the Amorous
Relationships Policy must fully report the
information or complaint to the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX
promptly. Confidential resources available on campus are the Counseling Center
and Health Services. Student employees who serve in a supervisory, advisory, or
managerial role are Responsible Employees and in positions of authority for
purposes of these procedures (e.g., teaching assistants, residential
assistants, student managers, orientation leaders, etc.) and must also promptly
report discrimination or harassment to the Office of Equal Opportunity &
University encourages any person who feels he or she has been discriminated against
or harassed to promptly report the incident to the Office of Equal Opportunity
& Title IX. Any member of the university community who observes
discrimination or harassment of another person on campus, in connection with a
university program or activity, or in a manner that creates a hostile
environment for members of the university community should report the conduct
to the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX. No member of the university
community should assume that an official of the University already knows about
a particular discriminatory or harassing situation.
and reports of discrimination and harassment should be reported as soon as
possible after the incident(s) in order to be most effectively
investigated. Complaints may be made in
person, in writing by email or using the complaint form found here
(preferred method), or by telephone.
discrimination or harassment alleged is potentially of a criminal nature,
university community members are encouraged to also contact the University
Police Department (for conduct that occurred on campus) or local law
enforcement in the relevant jurisdiction (for conduct that occurred off
campus). Except as required by the Clery Act for purposes of crime statistics
reporting, police will not be notified of a sexual assault without the
complainant/victim’s consent unless there is an imminent threat of harm or the
incident involves someone under the age of 16. University community
members have the right to simultaneously make a complaint to the Office of
Equal Opportunity & Title IX and to law enforcement.
E. False Accusations
found to have intentionally submitted false complaints, accusations, or
statements in violation of University or Board of Regents policy may be subject
to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including suspension, expulsion,
stated, a finding that there was insufficient evidence to support that a
violation occurred does not constitute proof of a false and/or malicious
G. Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression
University is committed to protecting, maintaining and encouraging both freedom
of expression and full academic freedom of inquiry, teaching, service, and
research. Academic freedom and freedom of expression shall be strongly
considered in investigating complaints and reports of discrimination or
harassment, but academic freedom and freedom of expression will not excuse
behavior that constitutes a violation of the law or policy.
H. Right to be Accompanied by an Advisor or Support Person
Any party to
a complaint shall have the opportunity to use an advisor (including an
attorney) of his/her choosing for the express purpose of providing advice and
counsel at his/her expense. The selected
advisor shall not otherwise be a party or witness involved in the
investigation. The advisor may be present during any meetings and proceedings
involved in the investigatory or resolution process in which the advisee is
also eligible to be present. The advisor may advise the advisee, including
providing questions, suggestions, advice on the proceedings, and guidance on
responses to any questions of the participant, but shall not participate
directly. The University shall not
prohibit family members of any student party from attending if the party
requests such attendance, but may limit the number to two family members.
I. Amnesty for Students
The University encourages members of the university community to come forward and to report violations of policy notwithstanding a student’s choice to consume alcohol or to use other drugs. Information reported during an investigation concerning student use of drugs or alcohol will not be used against any student in a University disciplinary proceeding or voluntarily reported to law enforcement. However, individuals may be provided with resources on drug and alcohol counseling or education. See the Code of Student Conduct for additional information.
II. Investigation and Resolution Process
A. Standard of Review
Investigative findings under this Policy will be made using the preponderance of the evidence standard (i.e., “more likely than not”). This standard requires that the information supporting an alleged violation be more convincing than the information in opposition to it.
B. Interim Protective Measures
or designee may impose interim protective measures before the final resolution
of an investigation if failure to take the interim measures would constitute an
immediate threat to the safety and well-being of the complainant/victim or
other members of the university community or to ensure equal access to the
University’s education programs and activities. Before any such measures
are instituted, however, the Director should, where practicable, provide the
respondent with an initial opportunity to respond to the allegations and to the
imposition of any interim protective measures.
interim protective measures does not indicate that a violation of policy has
occurred, and is designed to protect the alleged victim and community, and not
to harm the respondent. To the extent interim measures are imposed, they
should minimize the burden on both the alleged victim and the respondent, where
interim measures may include but are not limited to:
- Change of University housing assignment;
- Issuance of a “mutual no contact” directive;
- Restrictions or bars to entering certain University property;
- Changes to academic or employment arrangements, schedules or supervision;
- Interim suspension; and
- Other measures designed to promote the safety and well-being of the parties and the university community.
If an interim suspension is issued, the terms of the suspension take effect immediately. When requested by the respondent, a hearing with the Director and/or any other appropriate personnel as determined by the Director, to determine whether the intermediate suspension should continue, will be held within three (3) business days of the request.
C. Initiating an Investigation
of a complaint, the Director will review the complaint and any additional
information available, and a determination will be made as to whether or not to
proceed with an informal or formal process, or redirect the complaint to the
appropriate office. A complaint may be
redirected or dismissed if it does not fall within the auspices of this office,
or if taking the allegation(s) as true the alleged conduct would not be a
violation of policy. As necessary and appropriate, the Director will consult
with the Chief Legal Affairs Officer in making this determination. In any proceedings, the formal investigation
will be under the direction of the Director.
*** Sexual Misconduct complaints
involving students will be handled in accordance with the University System of
Georgia Board of Regents’ Sexual Misconduct Policy. Click here to view
the Policy. See Section 6.7***
As part of
any investigative process, the Director or designee will determine whether the
complaint is properly filed in this office; if not, the Director or designee
will dismiss the complaint or refer to the appropriate office or department.
As part of
any formal investigation, the Director or designee will:
- Provide a copy of
these procedures to the complainant;
- Notify the
respondent of the specific nature of the complaint brought against him/her,
provide the policy they are alleged to have violated, and provide a copy of
these procedures; and
- Inform all
parties of the non-retaliation policy.
The University reserves the right to charge the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX with conducting an investigation of a complaint even when no formal complaint has been filed or when a filed complaint is subsequently withdrawn by the complainant.
D. Informal Process
process is an opportunity to bring resolution to a complaint through awareness,
education, and/or a facilitated discussion. Informal resolution may be
appropriate if the complainant or alleged victim when not the complainant,
respondent and the Director or designee all agree.
informal process, fact-finding occurs to the extent necessary to resolve the
conflict and protect the interests of the parties and the University community,
but the Director or designee does not make a determination of whether a policy
violation occurred. The complainant, respondent, or University always has the
option to end the informal process and proceed to the formal process.
resolutions may include, but are not limited to:
- Changes to work
or academic arrangements;
discussion with person whose conduct, if not stopped, could rise to the level
of discrimination or harassment;
discussion with the respondent’s supervisor, professor or advisor; and
- “Mutual No
Contact” directives provided to both parties.
E. Formal Process
complaints that have not been redirected or dismissed and are not resolved
through the informal process are resolved through a formal
process involving an investigation conducted by the Director or
As part of
the formal process, the investigator will:
- Attempt to schedule meetings with the parties and any other appropriate person(s);
- Obtain information and evidence, including the identity of any witnesses, from the complainant or alleged victim, and the respondent;
- Attempt to obtain information from the identified relevant witnesses;
- Ask relevant questions, submitted by the parties, to any witness or party;
- Ask additional questions deemed relevant by the investigator;
- Collect and maintain appropriate documentation of the investigation;
- Disclose appropriate information to others only on a need-to-know basis consistent with state and federal law;
- Keep the appropriate supervisors/administrators/faculty informed of the status of the complaint and investigation as needed; and
- Provide the complainant or alleged victim, and the respondent the opportunity to review the evidence collected and respond to that evidence.
If at any
point the investigator determines, in consultation with the Director, that
there is insufficient evidence to warrant further consideration, then the
complaint should be dismissed and notification will be provided to all parties.
An employee shall cooperate to the fullest extent possible in any internal investigation when directed to do so by persons who have been given the investigative authority by the President of the Institution. Failure to cooperate fully shall be grounds for adverse personnel action, including possible termination of employment. View the Cooperation in Internal Investigation Policy.
The interviews and exchange of information, including the opportunity to respond to evidence, through the investigator constitute the hearing process.
the conclusion of a formal investigation, the Director will forward the
finalized written report to the appropriate Vice President or designee. The Vice President or designee will make a
determination of the action to be taken on the basis of this report.
He/She may elect to do one of the following:
- Accept the report as presented;
- Accept the report in part as incomplete and request further fact-finding; or
- With the approval of the President, reject the report as incomplete and/or inaccurate and conduct an independent investigation.
report has been accepted, if not proceeding with independent investigation, the
Vice President or designee will make a determination based on a preponderance
of the evidence if a policy violation occurred.
In all cases, the Director or designee will serve as a fact finder and will have authority to recommend, but not initiate or implement disciplinary action.
shall have the right to appeal the outcome of the formal process. Written notice of appeal should be received
by the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX within five (5) business days
of the date of the final written decision. A party shall have the right to
appeal the outcome on any of the following grounds:
- To consider new information, sufficient to alter the decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original investigation, because such information was not known or knowable to the person appealing during the time of the investigation;
- To allege a procedural error within the process that may have substantially impacted the fairness of the investigation; or
- To allege that the finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information.
of Equal Opportunity & Title IX will notify the non-appealing party of the
appeal, provide that party a copy of the appeal, and allow for an opportunity
to respond in writing. The non-appealing
party’s response should be received by the Office of Equal Opportunity &
Title IX within five (5) business days of the date of notification of
appeal. The President or designee may
receive additional information if he/she believes such information would aid in
shall be a review of the record only, and no new meeting with either party is
- Affirm the original finding and sanction;
- Affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction of greater or lesser severity;
- Remand the case back to the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX to correct a procedural or factual defect; or
- Reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand.
President shall then issue a decision in writing to the parties within a
reasonable time period.
The decision of the President will be
the final institutional decision. Further appeals, if available, are governed
under the policies and bylaws of the Board of Regents of the University System
Last updated: 8/2/2019