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Title IX

Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions related to sexual misconduct and Title IX. Answers address common questions on reporting, procedures, related policies and support.  The material in these FAQs may be difficult to read and triggering; please take care of yourself and reach out to counseling services if you need assistance.  If your question was not answered or if you need further information, please contact the Title IX Coordinator, Michelle Disson (titleixcoordaintor@floridapoly.edu; (863) 874-8484. 

 

General

The application of Title IX to athletics that has gained the greatest public visibility, however, the law applies to every single aspect of education, including course offerings, counseling and counseling materials, financial assistance, student health and insurance benefits and/or other services, housing, marital and parental status of students, physical education and athletics, education programs and activities, and employment.

 

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs, services and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Covered programs and activities includes admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment, services, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, vocational education, recreation, physical education, housing and employment. Forms of discrimination include sex-based discrimination, gender-based harassment, sexual harassment.

 

  • Defines sexual harassment to include sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex;
  • Requires schools to offer clear, accessible options for any person to report sexual harassment;
  • Empowers survivors to make decisions about how a school responds to incidents of sexual harassment;
  • Requires the school to offer survivors supportive measures, such as class or dorm reassignments or no-contact orders;
  • Holds colleges responsible for off-campus sexual harassment at houses owned or under the control of school-sanctioned fraternities and sororities;
  • Restores fairness on college and university campuses by upholding all students' right to written notice of allegations, the right to an advisor, and the right to submit, cross-examine, and challenge evidence at a live hearing;
  • Shields survivors from having to come face-to-face with the accused during a hearing and from answering questions posed personally by the accused;
  • Requires schools to select one of two standards of evidence, the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard – and to apply the selected standard evenly to proceedings for all students and employees, including faculty;
  • Provides "rape shield" protections and ensures survivors are not required to divulge any medical, psychological, or similar privileged records;
  • Requires schools to offer an equal right of appeal for both parties to a Title IX proceeding;
  • Gives schools flexibility to use technology to conduct Title IX investigations and hearings remotely;
  • Protects students and faculty by prohibiting schools from using Title IX in a manner that deprives students and faculty of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Federal and state laws, including Title IX, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and sexual assault is considered to be a form of sexual harassment. Other sexual misconduct that may not be prohibited by Title IX, may still be a violation of the Policy, the code of student conduct, or employee standards of conduct.

If a Complainant requests to remain confidential, the University will give serious consideration to that request. Only in rare circumstances will the University proceed to a Title IX investigation against the wishes of the Complainant. Generally, the University will seek to honor the request of the Complainant not to proceed to a Title IX investigation and to remain confidential and will not proceed to a formal Title IX investigation without the consent of the Complainant. The Title IX Coordinator will consider a number of factors in deciding whether the request can be honored, including the age of the Complainant, whether there is evidence of a pattern of misconduct, the severity of the misconduct, and whether there is a safety risk to the Complainant or the University community. Should the University, in weighing such factors, determine it must proceed, the University will explain its rationale to the Complainant and make sure that the Complainant is offered a support person throughout the process. The Complainant will not be required to participate in the process as a prerequisite to the University proceeding.

 

The University respects the privacy concerns of those who may be the subject of or witness to incidents of harassment, but the University also has an obligation to keep the community safe and to address incidents of alleged harassment that are formally reported or that puts the community at risk. University employees who have an obligation to report will need to provide the Title IX Coordinator relevant information about the allegation, including the identities of the individuals involved (if they know) and the nature of the conduct. This does not mean that an informal resolution must be pursued or a formal complaint must be filed. Moreover, even when someone has an obligation to report to the Title IX Coordinator, University officials will protect and respect privacy and will share information on a need-to-know basis. Similarly, the Title IX Coordinator and the Title IX Office will respect the sensitivity of this information and share it with others only on a need-to-know basis.

Confidential consultations about sexual harassment, sexual violence, relationship violence, stalking, and gender discrimination are available from persons who, by law, have special professional status. A student may contact the following offices for confidential advice and help:

 

 

BayCare Student Assistance Program

24-Hour Line: 800-878-5470

 

On Campus/Off Campus Counseling Services

calling BayCare or emailing CARE Services 

 - On Campus location ASC Eat

 

Peace River Center (off campus)

Business Hours Line: (863) 413-2708

24 Hour Rape Crisis Hotline: (863) 413-2707

https://www.peacerivercenter.org/services/victim-services/

 

The Title IX Coordinator will meet with students seeking information about their options. Upon a report of a Title IX concern, the University will work with the Complainant to put supportive measures in place to ensure a safe, hostile-free environment for the student. Following an investigation, and a determination that conduct prohibited by Title IX occurred, more permanent accommodations and safety measures may be implemented. Supportive measures) may include:

 

  • Extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments
  • Modifications of work or class schedules
  • Campus escort services
  • Restrictions on contact
  • Changes in work or housing locations
  • Leaves of absence
  • Increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus
  • Other similar measures

Yes. When appropriate, the University can put interim measures in place even if a formal complaint has not been filed. Interim measures are subject to review and revision at any time prior to the conclusion of an investigation. Following an investigation, additional measures may be put in place, and interim measures may become permanent.

 Title IX Coordinator, Michelle Disson

titleixcoordinator@floridapoly.edu

(806) 874-8484

4700 Research Way

ASC East

Lakeland, FL 33805

 If the incident involves a Florida Poly student, it should still be reported and the Title IX Office so that the University can assess how best to assist the student.

 While off-campus sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct not associated with a University program or activity is not governed by federal Title IX regulations, the University may still consider the effects of off-campus conduct as a violation of the Policy, the code of student conduct, or employee standards of conduct even if it does not limit the ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or does not occur on campus.

 Yes.
Even though the University’s ability to take direct action against a person who is not affiliated with the University may be limited, the University will take steps to provide appropriate supports for the reporting party and, where appropriate, the broader community. This may include offering available support services to the reporting party, notifying the reporting party of the right to file a complaint with the responding party’s school (if the responding party is a student) or local law enforcement, and taking any other appropriate steps to protect the campus.
The University does not permit retaliation against an individual who seeks to redress their concerns, or those who participate in this process. Should you believe that you are retaliated against, please report to the Title IX Office.
Title IX benefits everyone!. The law requires educational institutions to maintain policies, practices and programs that do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender. Elimination of discrimination against women and girls has received more attention because females historically faced greater gender restrictions and barriers in education. Continued efforts to achieve educational equity has benefited all students by moving toward creation of school environments where all students may learn and achieve, thereby also benefiting men and boys.
No. Speaking with a University official, even the Title IX Coordinator or someone who is responsible for notifying the Title IX Coordinator, does not mean that you will need to participate in an informal resolution or file a formal complaint. The University encourages all persons who believe they may have been the subject of sexual or gender-based harassment to speak with an appropriate University official about the incident because, even if no informal process is commenced or formal complaint is filed, that information will help the University identify any concerns about harassment and work to address them. Speaking to a University officer will allow any student affected to be supported by the University, and also will allow University officials to consider whether there are broader issues for the community that need to be addressed.
If you file a complaint and wish to remain anonymous during the investigation, it may significantly impact the University’s ability to conduct an investigation. In some circumstances, a request for anonymity may mean an investigation cannot go forward. In other circumstances, the Title IX Officer may determine that further investigation is necessary (for example, if there is a potential risk of a hostile environment for others in the community), in which case you will be informed that the disclosure of your identity is necessary for the investigatory process.
No. Filing a complaint with the Title IX Office does not mean that you automatically have filed a complaint with Florida Poly PD. The Title IX Office is not part of Florida Poly PD. Your Title IX Coordinator can put you in touch with Florida Poly PD should you wish to file a police report. While the University encourages reporting to both, the choice belongs to each individual, as does the decision about whether to file a formal complaint with the Title IX Office and/or file criminal charges.

Campus Police Phone: (863) 874-8472

The Campus Police are able to reach Counseling Services as needed in an emergency, for consultation or other forms of help.

Peace River Center also is available 24/7 and would be able to assist.

Alternatively, you can proceed directly to the nearest hospital emergency room. We have a hospital that close by campus:

Lakeland Regional Hospital

1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33805

Complaint Investigations, Hearings and Appeals Process

Yes. Although neither the reporting party (the person alleged to be a victim of sexual harassment) nor the responding party (the person alleged to have committed the sexual harassment) is required to have an attorney serve in the role of personal advisor, each is permitted to do so. It should be noted that the advisor has a limited role in the investigatory, hearing, and appeal process. An attorney acting as an advisor may not speak on behalf of their advisee during any interview or hearing, and is not permitted to raise objections, argue in support of a party’s position, or otherwise “represent” a party during the process. Except under a Title IX process where the Advisor conducts the cross examination.

 

No. Only a party’s Advisor is permitted to ask the other party and any witnesses relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. An Advisor is a party’s proxy during the hearing; the Advisor is not “representing” the party. The role of the Advisor is to relay their advisee’s desired questions to the other party and witnesses.

The name of a witness proposed by a reporting party or responding party, like other information received from each during the investigatory process, is shared with the other party. Prospective witnesses are assured that the Policy prohibits retaliation against anyone who participates in the process, including a witness, and your Title IX Coordinator can discuss with you measures that may be taken to facilitate your participation. Retaliation can be reported under the Policy, and as desired and as appropriate, may be the subject of a Title IX complaint.

Title IX Investigators conduct witness interviews for the purpose of gathering and assessing information about the incident(s). Information about the reporting party, including the names of the people involved, is shared with witnesses only to the extent necessary to gather relevant information.

In addition to any statements of the parties, the following is a non-exhaustive list of information that may be considered, if relevant and available, during an investigation:

  • Witness statements
  • Photographs
  • Text messages, chat, social media, and similar materials
  • Recordings
  • Transcripts and other performance evaluations
  • Medical records
  • Police reports
  • Court records

Investigators also may visit the location(s) where the incident(s) occurred to better understand the information gathered during the course of the investigation.

Yes. During the course of the investigation, both the reporting party and the responding party will have the opportunity to respond to all information used by the investigator in reaching its findings of fact. They will also have the opportunity to provide the investigator with any additional information that they have. This information, like other information received from the reporting party and responding party during the investigatory process, will be shared with the other. In addition, each party will have the opportunity to review and comment on the draft investigative report, and the investigator will evaluate the comments before issuing a final report.

Title IX Office will maintain records of investigations, hearing, and appeals sufficient to show, where applicable, the individuals involved, investigative steps taken, information reviewed, decisions made, and the reasoning for the decisions. After seven years, the University may archive or otherwise dispose of these records in a manner that will ensure appropriate confidentiality.

Yes. If a lawsuit is filed, records associated with any investigation, hearing, or appeal may have to be given to courts, lawyers, expert witnesses or others involved with the legal proceedings. The Title IX Coordinator also may be required to release records to government agencies that are investigating the University’s compliance with state and/or federal law.