Process and Procedures
Processing, Investigation, and Resolution of Discrimination and Retaliation Complaints involving Discrimination
The University’s complaint process, outlined herein, is the procedure used to investigate complaints or reports of discrimination and harassment, end any discrimination and/or harassment found, remedy the effects of discrimination and harassment, and prevent any recurrence or retaliation. This process applies to all complaints of discrimination and harassment except sexual misconduct complaints.
These procedures do not replace the right of the complainant to file complaints or seek remedies available under state or federal law.
University students and employees identified as witnesses are required to fully cooperate with an investigation. Any member of the University community who willfully disregards, delays, or thwarts an investigation, or makes false statements during an investigation, may be found in violation of a Kennesaw State University ("KSU") policy and subject to disciplinary action.
Information obtained during the course of the complaint process will be shared only to the extent necessary to conduct a thorough, fair, and impartial investigation.
1) Interim Measures
After OIE receives a complaint, the Director of Institutional Equity & Title IX Coordinator ("Director"), or his/her designee, may implement interim protective measures before the final outcome of an investigation if failure to take the interim measures would constitute a threat to the safety and well-being of the complainant or other members of the University community. Additionally, the Director, or his/her designee, may implement interim protective measures to ensure equal access to the University’s education programs and activities. Such interim measures are not an indication that a violation of the Non-Discrimination Policy has occurred. Interim measures will remain effective during the investigation process, and can be extended further if in the best interest of the parties and campus community.
2) Initiating an Intake Interview
As part of the intake process, the intake investigator will:
- Conduct and initial intake interview to obtain additional information regarding the alleged behavior, provide complainant(s) with information on where to access the Non-Discrimination Policy or provide a copy of the policy;
- Determine whether the complainant's allegations fall under the policy and, if they do not, refer complainant to the appropriate University or off-campus resources, if applicable;
- If it is determined that the Complainant's allegations fall under the Non-Discrimination Policy, inform respondents of complaints brought against them and provide respondents with information on where to access the policy or provide a copy of the policy; and,
- Inform all parties of the University’s Non-Retaliation Policy.
- If it is determined that the complanant's allegations fall under the policy, the complainant
will have three options to resolve the matter:
- The complainant can informally resolve the matter with the respondent;
- The complainant can request that the matter be investigated;
- The complainant can request that the matter can be filed with OIE for information purposes and decided to reopen the matter a different date at the complainant's request.
3) Informal Process
The informal 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, respondent, and Director or his/her designee all agree.
During an informal process, fact-finding occurs to the extent necessary to resolve the conflict and protect the interest of the parties and the University community, but the process stops short of a determination of whether a policy has been violated. Instead, the focus is on finding resolutions that might end the conflict to the satisfaction of all parties involved and the University. The complainant or respondent always has the option to end the informal process and request a formal process.
Informal resolutions may include, but are not limited to:
- Changes to work or academic arrangements;
- Housing reassignment;
- Informal discussion with person whose conduct, if not stopped, could rise to the level of discrimination or harassment; and/or
- Advisory discussion with the respondent’s supervisor, professor or advisor.
4) Formal Process
All complaints that are not resolved through the informal process may be resolved through a formal process involving a full investigation conducted by an assigned investigator.
As part of the formal process, the investigator will:
- Inform complainants and respondents of their right to be interviewed and provide evidence;
- Obtain information and evidence, including the identity of any witnesses, from complainants and the respondents;
- Attempt to obtain information from the identified witnesses;
- Collect and maintain appropriate documentation; and
- Only disclose appropriate information to others on a need-to-know basis.
5) Complaint Resolution
The amount of time needed to conduct investigations depends in part on the nature of the allegation(s) and the evidence to be investigated (e.g., the scope of the allegations, the time period and number of events implicated by or relevant to complaints, the number or availability of witnesses involved and the volume of documents).
Upon conclusion, the Director or his/her designee will notify complainants and respondents, in writing, of the results of the investigation. Written decisions will be disclosed only to complainants, respondents, and University officials, as appropriate, to determine and enforce any remedial actions, discipline, or sanctions. It is the responsibility of the supervisor of the individual or individuals named in the report to ensure that any remedial actions, discipline, and sanctions occur. The Office of Institutional Equity will maintain contact with the supervisor to ensure completion in a timely manner.
Complainants are encouraged to report any reoccurrences of conduct that were found to violate the Non-Discrimination Policy, as well as to report any retaliation for complaints or related investigations. Remedial and preventative measures may be implemented by the Office of Institutional Equity, even in the absence of a violation of the policy, if conduct is found to occur that may, if not addressed, rise to the level of a violation. Any unprofessional conduct or inappropriate behavior found during the course of the investigation that is not covered by the policy will be addressed with the respective department, Academic Affairs, and/or Human Resources.
Where discrimination or harassment in violation of this Policy is determined to have occurred, the University will take timely action to remedy the effects. Potential remedies for complainants include, but are not limited to:
- Extensions of time to re-do or complete academic work without an academic or financial penalty;
- Changes to academic or employment arrangements, schedules, or supervision that minimize the burden on complainants;
- Provision of or referral to medical, counseling, and academic support services;
Change of University housing assignments;
- Training/re-training on appropriate University policies and other relevant topics for individuals or groups implicated in the discrimination or harassment; and,
- Other measures designed to repair the negative impact of discrimination or harassment.
If a violation of the Policy is found, the level of discipline and type or scope of sanctions will depend on the severity and nature of the discrimination or harassment, the weight of the evidence, and the need to maintain a safe and respectful environment. Possible sanctions for students include those available under the KSU Student Code of Conduct. University employees in violation of this Policy are subject to a wide range of sanctions that include, but are not limited to, training, written warning, transfer, suspension, and termination from employment.
The Complainant and Respondent may appeal the final determination of the findings of OIE and the recommended disciplinary action imposed.
Appeals must be submitted, in writing, within five (5) business days of distribution of the final investigation report and are limited to the following grounds:
- to consider new information that is 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 investigation process that may have substantially impacted the fairness of the process, whether the decision was tainted by a conflict of interest or bias by the Director, investigator(s), or decision makers(s); or
- to allege that the finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information.
The appeal should be made to the institution’s President or their designee.
The appeal shall be a review of the record only, and no new meeting with the Respondent or any Complainant is required. The President or their designee may affirm the original finding and disciplinary action, affirm the original finding but issue a new disciplinary action of greater or lesser severity, remand the case back to any lower decision maker 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.
The President or their designee’s decision shall be simultaneously issued in writing to the parties within a reasonable time period. The President or their designee’s decision shall be the final decision of the institution.
Should the Respondent or Complainant (where applicable) wish to appeal the final institutional
decision, they may request a review by the Board of Regents in accordance with the
Board of Regents Policy on Discretionary Review.
Appeals received after the designated deadlines above will not be considered unless the institution or Board of Regents has granted an extension prior to the deadline. If an appeal is not received by the deadline, the last decision on the matter will become final.
Procedures for dismissal of a faculty member with tenure, or a non-tenured faculty member will be governed by the Faculty Handbook, 4.1.9. Removal of a Faculty Member for Cause, and the Board of Regents Policy Manual, 188.8.131.52 Procedures for Dismissal.
A responding student may be able to appeal the finding and/or recommended sanctions of the Office of Institutional Equity when that decision resulted in a sanction of retraction of a degree or previously awarded course credit, suspension or expulsion from the University, and/or removal from University housing.
A student organization may be able to appeal the finding and/or recommended sanctions of the Office of Institutional Equity when that decision resulted in a recommendation of a sanction of removal from University housing, and/or suspension or revocation of the organization’s registration with the University.
The student appeal process may be found in the Student Code of Conduct.