Wake Forest University is committed to diversity, inclusion, and the spirit of Pro Humanitate. Wake Forest University strives to provide an environment that is conducive to embracing, nurturing and fostering the values of mutual respect, dignity, responsibility, open communication, and effective consent. Our community expects that all interpersonal relationships and interactions – especially those of an intimate nature – are based upon these values. Sexual misconduct and discrimination are in direct conflict with our institution’s values and policies and present barriers to fulfilling the University’s missions.
To that end, in adherence with applicable laws and as provided by University policies, the University prohibits discrimination in its employment practices and its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, genetic information, disability and veteran status.
Wake Forest University complies with Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S. C. § 1681 et seq. (“Title IX”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities. Sexual harassment, which includes sexual violence, is a form of Sexual discrimination. The University’s commitment to nondiscrimination applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in University programs and activities. The University’s full Non-Discrimination Policy may be found at Nondiscrimination Statement.
This Student Sexual Misconduct Policy describes prohibited conduct, establishes prompt and equitable grievance procedures for responding to reports of Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Discrimination as defined in this policy, and outlines resources available to all students.
This policy addresses complaints of Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Discrimination where the accused party (Respondent) is a current University student. Complaints relating to Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Discrimination alleged against a member of the University faculty, staff (including student employees when acting in their capacity as an employee), or affiliates are not covered by the policy. The Wake Forest University Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy covering faculty, staff, and third parties may be found at: Faculty and Staff Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy.
The University has the right to review and investigate any alleged violations of this policy that occur in the context of a University-sponsored program or activity or that otherwise may affect the University’s working or learning environments, regardless of whether the conduct occurred on or off campus.
The University’s ability to investigate and/or impose disciplinary sanctions may be limited where the alleged conduct occurred outside the context of a University-sponsored program or activity or occurred off campus, or one party is not a member of the University community. In such cases, the University reserves the right to take any steps that it deems appropriate to address the alleged conduct where said conduct has a continuing adverse effect on or creates a hostile environment for students, employees, and/or third parties while on University owned, leased, or controlled property or in any University sponsored employment or educational program or activity. In all cases, the University may provide appropriate resources to those individuals impacted and, where appropriate, the broader University community.
The University strictly prohibits Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Discrimination.
Sexual or gender-based harassment is a form of discrimination that includes verbal, written, or physical behavior, directed at someone, or against a particular group, because of that person’s or group’s sex, gender identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or based on gender stereotypes, when that behavior is unwelcome and meets either of the following criteria:
Behaviors or communications may be verbal or nonverbal, written, or electronic. Such conduct does not need to be directed at or to a specific individual in order to constitute sexual harassment, but may consist of generalized unwelcome and inappropriate behaviors or communications based on sex, gender identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender stereotypes.
Determination of whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment requires consideration of all the circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.
Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is defined as intentional touching of another person’s clothed or unclothed body, including, but not limited to, the mouth, neck, buttocks, anus, genitalia, or breast, by another with any part of the body or any object in a sexual manner. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact also includes causing another person to touch their own or another’s body in the manner described in this definition.
Sexual assault is a form of Non-Consensual Sexual Contact that involves having or attempting to have sexual contact with another person without consent.
Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration is defined as penetration (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any body part or any object, by a person upon another person, without effective consent. This includes vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger; anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger; and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact).
Sexual exploitation is defined as taking non-consensual, unjust, or abusive sexual advantage of another, for one’s own advantage or benefit; or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the person being exploited. Sexual exploitation encompasses a wide range of behaviors including, but not limited to:
Stalking or cyberstalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct (at least two acts) directed at a specific person (in person, through third parties or through electronic means) that would cause a reasonable person to:
Relationship Violence (Domestic or Dating Violence) is defined as:
Relationship Violence is commonly referred to as dating violence or domestic violence, and occurs between persons who have been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with each other. The existence of such a relationship is determined by considering the following factors:
The University’s definition of Sexual Assault mandates that each participant obtains and gives effective consent in each instance and before each sexual act. For the purposes of this policy, the University’s defines effective consent as follows:
The University encourages anyone who experiences or becomes aware of Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Discrimination to immediately report the matter by filing a criminal complaint with the Wake Forest University Police Department, Winston-Salem Police Department, a report with the University Title IX Coordinator, a report with the Compliance Hotline (either anonymous or personally identified), or an anonymous Silent Witness Police Report.
The Wake Forest University Police Department, the Winston-Salem Police Department, and the Title IX Office are non-confidential resources, meaning that any incidents reported to those offices must be reviewed.
If a Reynolda campus student wishes to discuss a matter regarding sexual misconduct in a confidential setting, the student may contact the Safe Office, which offers confidential crisis response and ongoing support concerning issues of sexual misconduct. The Safe Office is available 24/7 while classes are in session. The Safe Office can be reached at 336-758-5285.
The University considers the reporting and adjudication of Sexual Misconduct cases to be of paramount importance. While the University does not condone underage drinking or illegal use of controlled substances, the University will extend limited immunity to Complainants, Respondents, witnesses and to those reporting incidents and/or assisting the parties from punitive sanctioning for University policy violations involving alcohol or substance use.
Sexual Misconduct may be a violation of University policy and a crime. Disciplinary action at the University is not a substitute for criminal or civil legal action. Therefore, the University encourages students to report alleged criminal conduct promptly to University Police or local law enforcement agencies and to the Title IX Office. Individuals have the right to simultaneously report a crime to law enforcement and to the University.
If a crime related to sexual misconduct is reported to University Police, they will contact the University Title IX Office, thereby allowing the Title IX Office to conduct a review in accordance with this policy. If a report is made to the Winston-Salem Police Department or other local law enforcement agencies, information from those agencies may be submitted to the Wake Forest University Police Department, who will provide said information to the to the University Title IX Office for review.
If a criminal complaint is filed in addition to a complaint with the University, the University will not wait for the conclusion of any criminal investigation or proceedings before commencing its own investigation; however, the University’s investigation may be delayed temporarily while the criminal investigators are gathering evidence. In the event of such a delay, the University may take interim measures as necessary to limit the effects of any ongoing Sexual Misconduct. Such interim measures may result in actions being taken that may impact both the Respondent student and the Complainant, and may include no contact orders and/or changes in class schedules and/or housing assignments. The University will take steps to minimize the burden on the Complainant. The University investigation will be conducted in a prompt, fair, and impartial manner by the University Title IX Coordinator or designee, who has had training on investigating cases of Sexual Misconduct. During and after the University investigation, measures will be taken by the University to ensure the preservation of evidence for internal purposes and/or a criminal investigation.
Wake Forest University protects the privacy of both the Complainant and the Respondent in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. However, if the University determines that there may be imminent harm to the community, the University is required by federal law to inform the community of the occurrence for the protection of all members of the community. In addition, the University cannot guarantee confidentiality by other students who may be involved as witnesses.
To confidentially discuss concerns and options, students are encouraged to contact the Safe Office. The Safe Office’s website is http://safeoffice.wfu.edu/.
If the Complainant requests that an initial assessment not be conducted, an Informal Resolution Process not be pursued, and/or the Formal Resolution Process not be initiated, and/or requests that the report remain private, federal regulations and this policy may require that the University conduct an initial assessment and take reasonable action in response to the report when failure to do so may result in imminent harm to the community.
This may involve the Title IX Coordinator, or designee, conducting an initial assessment into the alleged Sexual Misconduct and may weigh the Complainant’s request(s) against the following factors:
Even if the University cannot take disciplinary action against the Respondent student(s) because of the request for privacy or the request to not pursue the informal or formal resolution process, the University will nevertheless take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to limit the effects of the alleged sexual misconduct and to prevent its recurrence. For instance, the Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator may issue an educational “no contact” order or take other appropriate Interim Measures (e.g., changes to class schedules).
Upon receiving a report of Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Discrimination, the Title IX Coordinator or the Title IX Coordinator’s designated investigator will assess the reported information and respond to any immediate health or safety concerns raised by the report, including referring the Complainant to the Safe Office and other confidential resources. The Title IX Coordinator or investigator will inform the Complainant of their right:
The Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator will ensure that the Complainant receives these rights in writing.
Taking into account the Complainant’s request for privacy, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will determine whether to initiate further review or an investigation or impose Interim Measures under this policy. If any action impacts a Respondent (including the imposition of interim measures), the Title IX Coordinator or designee will meet with the Respondent, ensure that the Respondent is notified in writing that a report has been filed against them, offer support and assistance, provide a list of resources and options, and inform the Respondent of their rights:
The Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator will ensure that the Respondent receives these rights in writing.
If it is determined that a report reveals involvement of, or a pattern of behavior by a particular student group or organization, the Title IX Coordinator may impose any appropriate remedial or protective measures contemplated by this policy in consultation with the relevant University officials. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, modification, suspension or termination of a student group’s or organization’s agreement or status with the University to the extent permitted by law and University policy.
A Complainant who wishes to file a report of Sexual Misconduct and/or Sexual Discrimination with the University but who does not wish to pursue the Formal Resolution Process, as explained below, may request a less formal proceeding, referred to as the Informal Resolution Process. However, the Informal Resolution Process is not available for reports of alleged Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration.
The Informal Resolution Process is intended to resolve reports quickly, efficiently, and to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved. Where circumstances allow for this, the Informal Resolution Process will be initiated as soon as possible after the filing of the report and the conclusion of an initial assessment.
Any resolution through this Informal Resolution Process must be mutually agreed upon by the parties involved. The Title IX Coordinator will assign appropriate University officials to facilitate informal resolution.
Both the Complainant and the Respondent have the right to bypass or end the Informal Resolution Process at any time and initiate the Formal Resolution Process.
Records arising from the Informal Resolution Process will not be used for any purpose other than those described above, to comply with applicable laws and regulations, and/or if a complaint subsequently results in the Formal Resolution Process as a result of a party’s failure to comply with the terms of the informal resolution agreement or otherwise becomes part of a legal action.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the University may also take into account prior accusations of the same or of a similar nature filed against an accused individual, and the University may take action to address concerns about repetitive behaviors that are inconsistent with the University’s commitment to maintaining an educational and working environment free from Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Discrimination.
When informal resolution is not an option or when a student chooses not to utilize the Informal Resolution Process, the following process has been established to resolve complaints under this policy.
The Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator will notify the Complainant and the Respondent, in writing, of the initiation of an investigation beyond the Initial Assessment. If not previously provided, the Title IX Coordinator or investigator will identify the parties; specify the date, time, location, and nature of the alleged prohibited conduct; identify potential policy violations; identify the investigator if other than the Title IX Coordinator; and instruct the parties to preserve any potentially relevant evidence.
If a report also implicates other forms of conduct prohibited by the University (e.g., Code of Conduct) and such conduct is not related to the allegations of sexual misconduct, the non-related conduct may be referred to the appropriate University office during or after the Sexual Misconduct allegation is resolved.
The investigation is a neutral fact gathering process. The Respondent is presumed to be not responsible; the presumption may be overcome only where there is sufficient evidence by a preponderance of evidence to support a finding that the Respondent is responsible for violating this policy.
An investigation by the University and a decision by the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel will, in most cases, be rendered within sixty (60) days of the filing of a report. This time period can be modified at the discretion of the University’s Title IX Coordinator, if deemed necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, to protect the rights of all parties or for other reasonable considerations.
During the investigation, the parties will have an equal opportunity to be heard, to submit information and corroborating evidence, to identify witnesses who may have relevant information, and to submit questions that they believe should be directed by the investigator to the other or to any witness.
The investigator will notify and seek to meet separately with the parties and third-party witnesses and will gather other relevant and available information including, without limitation, electronic or other records of communications between the parties or witnesses, photographs, and/or medical records (subject to the consent of the applicable party).
The Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator has the discretion to determine the relevance of any proffered evidence and to exclude irrelevant evidence from the investigation report.
Upon conclusion of the investigation, the Complainant may request that the matter be submitted to a Hearing Panel for determination of whether Respondent is responsible for violating this policy.
If Complainant makes a request for a Hearing Panel, the Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator will determine whether there is cause for the matter to proceed to a Hearing Panel under the Formal Resolution Process.
If a matter is submitted to a Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel for a determination of responsibility, upon completion of the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will prepare a written report summarizing the investigation. Because the Hearing Panel will determine whether a party is responsible for violating the policy, the report will not make a finding of a violation, but will make a finding of whether cause exists for the matter to proceed to a hearing.
The parties will receive a copy of the investigation report in advance of the hearing. After receiving the investigation report and in advance of the hearing, the parties may submit additional information, additional comments, and/or identify any additional witnesses or evidence for the Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator to consider. In the absence of good cause, as determined by the Title IX Coordinator or investigator, information, witnesses, and other evidence discoverable through the exercise of due diligence that is not provided to the Title IX Coordinator or designee during the investigation will not be considered by the Hearing Panel.
The parties will have seven (7) calendar days to review and respond in writing to the investigation report. Responses must be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Coordinator has discretion to exclude additional information, comments, witnesses or other evidence on grounds of relevancy, redundancy, or failure to provide such evidence during the course of the investigation without good cause. The Title IX Coordinator or designated investigator may amend the investigation report or include additional information as an appendix to the original investigation report. Excluded information, comments, and names of witnesses will be provided to the Hearing Chairperson for determination as to whether said evidence will be included at the hearing.
The final investigation report will be submitted to the Hearing Panel in advance of the hearing.
The University’s Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board is composed of faculty and staff who have received training, including education on hearing processes, the standard of review, evaluating evidence in a fair and impartial manner, cultural awareness, and the impact of trauma on all parties.
When a request for a Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel is made, the Title IX Coordinator, or designated investigator, will select a Chairperson in addition to a three-member Hearing Panel from the Hearing Board to determine whether the Respondent is responsible for violating the Student Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Discrimination Policy.
The hearing is an opportunity for the parties to address the Hearing Panel and for the Hearing Panel to meet the parties and ask the parties’ questions. The sequence of this hearing may be as follows:
Once the Hearing Panel has completed its questioning, the Respondent may submit written questions to the Chairperson to consider and if deemed relevant and not otherwise redundant, submit to the Hearing Panel.
Once the Hearing Panel has completed its questioning, the Complainant may submit written questions to the Chairperson to consider and, if deemed relevant and not otherwise redundant, submit to the Hearing Panel.
[Please note that both parties may have already provided the Chairperson with questions to be asked by the Hearing Panel. If either party would like additional questions asked, they must be submitted in writing and provided to the Chairperson during the hearing.]
As stated above, prior to and during the hearing, the Complainant and Respondent may submit questions to the Chairperson to be asked of each other and the witnesses testifying before the panel. Complainants and Respondents are prohibited from directly asking questions. This prohibition extends to advisors and support persons of Complainants and Respondents. The Hearing Chairperson makes evidentiary decisions, and has sole discretion to determine relevancy and/or redundancy of the questions submitted, and determine whether the questions should be asked in full, in part, or omitted.
Prior or subsequent conduct of the parties may be considered in determining pattern, knowledge, intent, motive or absence of mistake. For example, evidence of a pattern may be deemed relevant if the conduct is substantially similar to the conduct under investigation. In consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, the Chairperson will determine the relevance of this information and both parties will be informed if evidence of prior or subsequent conduct is deemed relevant
Notwithstanding the above, sexual history of a Complainant or Respondent will never be used to prove character or reputation. Moreover, evidence related to prior sexual history or either of the parties is generally not relevant to the determination of a policy violation but will be considered in limited circumstances. Sexual history of either party with one another may be discussed during the hearing if determined by the Chairperson to be relevant.
During the hearing, the Hearing Chairperson has the sole discretion to determine relevance of any proffered evidence, to include or exclude certain types of evidence at the hearing as well as which questions are relevant and/or not redundant and/or not reliable and may be asked by the Hearing Panel. Issues regarding admission of evidence or testimony, including relevancy and the reliability of the evidence and testimony will be determined by the Hearing Chairperson prior to and/or during the hearing.
Complainant may have a support person of their choosing and an advisor of their choosing at the hearing, but their roles are strictly limited to providing support and/or advice to the Complainant. Respondent may have a support person of their choosing and an advisor of their choosing at the hearing, but their roles are strictly limited to providing support and/or advice to the Respondent. Support people and advisors are prohibited from directly asking questions, arguing, or presenting information or evidence during the hearing. Support people and advisors may be removed by the Chairperson, in the Chairperson’s discretion, if the support people or advisors disrupt the hearing.
Arrangements may be made for Complainants and/or Respondents who do not wish to be in the hearing room with the opposing party at the same time. This accommodation may include audio conferencing or videoconferencing. All accommodation requests must be made to the Title IX Coordinator at least three (3) calendar days in advance of the hearing.
The Hearing Chairperson is a non-voting facilitator of the panel’s deliberations. The Hearing Panel shall evaluate the evidence and decide, based on a preponderance of the evidence, whether the Respondent is responsible for violating the University’s Student Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Discrimination Policy. “Preponderance of the evidence standard” means that the Respondent student will be found responsible if, based upon the entirety of the evidence presented during the hearing, it is determined that the Respondent student “more likely than not” committed the offense in question. A decision is reached by a majority of the Hearing Panel.
If there is a finding of responsibility, the Hearing Panel will determine the sanctions to be imposed. Sanctions for a finding of responsibility depend on the nature and the gravity of the misconduct. They may include, but are not limited to: disciplinary probation, suspension, expulsion, specialized treatment off-campus, no contact orders, trespass from campus, prohibition of participation in University programs or activities (which may include graduation), and/or other educational sanctions deemed appropriate by the Hearing Panel. Sanctions imposed by the Hearing Panel will remain in effect pending the outcome of any appeal process.
Both parties will be notified (in writing) simultaneously of the Hearing Panel’s decision. The parties will also be informed of the sanctions imposed, if applicable, and the University appeal procedures. The Chairperson will also promptly notify the Title IX Coordinator of the decision and the sanctions imposed, if applicable.
Complainants and Respondents may file a written appeal with the University’s Title IX Coordinator within fourteen (14) calendar days from the date of the decision on the following grounds:
Appeals will be reviewed by an Appeals Committee comprised of an Appeals Officer and a three (3) member panel chosen by the Title IX Coordinator from the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board.
The Appeals Committee is charged with reviewing the appeal. The Appeals Committee shall have access to all information that was available to the Hearing Panel. If the Appeals Committee determines that there is either germane new evidence that could significantly impact the outcome of the case, or a procedural error that could have altered the outcome of the case, the matter will be remanded back to the initial Hearing Panel for a determination regarding the impact of the new evidence or procedural error on the outcome of the complaint. If the grounds for the appeal are based on the appropriateness of the sanction, the Appeals Committee will have the authority to adopt the sanction imposed by the Hearing Panel or to change the sanction to a lesser or more severe sanction. The decision of a majority of the Appeals Committee members will be final.
Both parties will be notified simultaneously of the Committee’s decision. The Title IX Coordinator will also be notified (verbally and in writing) of the Committee’s decision.
For alleged violations of this Policy, interim actions, including but not limited to, interim suspension, reassignment to alternate housing, limitation of access to designated University housing and/or campus facilities, and limitation of privileges to engage in specified University activities may be imposed by the University’s Title IX Coordinator in consultation with the appropriate University administrators. Regardless of the outcome of the Initial Assessment or Formal Resolution Process, Interim Measures may be provided to the Complainant or Respondent by the Title IX Coordinator. Such measures may include no contact orders and/or changes in class schedules and/or housing assignments.
Interim actions may also be taken when there is reason to believe that the conduct of the Respondent student(s) poses a threat of harm to the Complainant(s) or others, threatens or endangers University property, or disrupts the stability and continuance of normal University operations and functions. Interim actions, including but not limited to, interim suspension, reassignment to alternate housing, limitation of access to designated University housing and/or campus facilities, and limitation of privileges to engage in specified University activities may be imposed by the University’s Title IX Coordinator in consultation with the appropriate Title IX Deputy Coordinator and Dean of Students, if appropriate.