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Sexual Misconduct

Harassment and sexual misconduct are prohibited by the Standards for Student Conduct. Sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination is also prohibited by federal law, Title IX. University and criminal complaints may be filed for the same incident.  The University's process is separate from the criminal process, applying different procedures, standards of proof, and possible penalties. (Campus Administrative Policy 160)

How do I file a charge?

After the Title IX Investigator notifies the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) of an incident constituting sexual misconduct, the office will initiate a disciplinary investigation based on the Standards for Student Conduct. The disciplinary investigation will incorporate information and findings from the Title IX report. OSRR will contact the complainant and explain the procedures and goals of the investigation. The complainant is entitled to present information, including witnesses, during this process. While investigations of all reported incidents are required, the complainant may decline to participate at any point. The complainant is entitled to have an advisor, including an attorney, or other support person(s) present in any meetings throughout the process. On campus, SAFER can refer a complainant to someone trained to act as a support person during this process. Off campus, Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center (SARP) provides the same service on a 24 hour basis. If the complainant's advisor is an attorney, the complainant must notify OSRR of the attorney's attendance at least five days prior to a meeting. An advisor cannot represent the complainant or serve as the complainant's advocate in the disciplinary process. The complainant and the student charged with a disciplinary infraction will have equal access to investigative reports.

After the disciplinary investigation has concluded, OSRR will notify the complainant of the result of the investigation. A preponderance of the evidence is needed to establish a violation of the Standards for Student Conduct. If that standard is met, a disciplinary charge will be filed.

The disciplinary charge may be resolved in pre-conference meetings. If, however, no agreement can be reached between the charged student and the University, a formal hearing will be conducted in accordance with the provisions of Executive Order 1097. The physical setting of a hearing can be arranged to avoid direct visual and verbal contact between the charged student and the participating complainant. 

Disciplinary sanctions could include a stay away order, reasonable modifications of class schedules and other on-campus activities, counseling referrals or other educational activities, community service, disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion. 

The complainant will be notified of the resolution of the charge in a timely manner.

For additional information about the Cal Poly disciplinary process, contact OSRR at 805-756-2794 or osrr@calpoly.edu.

What is sexual harassment in the university setting?

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (sexual violence, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, indecent exposure, and other verbal, nonverbal or physical unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature) that is so severe or pervasive as to interfere with or limit an individual's ability to participate in or benefit from a University program.  Sexual harassment also includes gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, non-verbal or physical aggression, intimidation or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.  

Sexual violence, one type of sexual harassment, is a physical sexual act (unwelcome sexual touching, sexual assault, sexual battery and rape) perpetrated against a person without consent or against a person who is incapable of giving consent due to that person's use of drugs or alcohol, or disability. 

How is consensual sexual activity defined? 

For purposes of University policy, the person initiating the sexual activity is responsible of establishing consent. Consent to sexual activity requires that participants be fully conscious and that they have clearly communicated their willingness and permission either verbally or nonverbally in such a way that would be seen as consent by reasonable people. Apparent assent gained by coercion, force, or manipulation does not constitute consent.  Consent cannot be established simply on the basis of a current or previous dating or romantic relationship. In addition, consent may be revoked at any time during the sexual act.

The use of alcohol or drugs does not make the complainant at fault for sexual violence.  A complainant should not be deterred from reporting incidents of sexual violence out of a concern that there might be disciplinary charges for related violations of drug, alcohol, or other university policies.  Except in extreme circumstances, complainants in sexual violence charges shall not be subject to discipline for related violations of the Standards for Student Conduct.

What is Cal Poly's procedure for addressing sexual harassment?

The safety of members of the University community is the primary concern. Any Cal Poly student or any person involved with Cal Poly students who becomes aware of sexual harassment can file a grievance with the Title IX Investigator. Except in the case of a privilege recognized under California Law, any member of the University community who has reason to know of an allegation of sexual harassment shall promptly inform this office.  The Title IX coordinator will take immediate steps as needed to assist students and will investigate the situation. While the Standards for Student Conduct prohibit alcohol use on campus or at University related activities and prohibit the use of illegal drugs, these regulations should not be a barrier to reporting an incident of sexual harassment. 

If the investigation conducted by the Title IX coordinator concludes that a student is responsible for an act of sexual harassment, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) will be notified.  The Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities will then begin its disciplinary process, taking steps to promote campus safety and to impose appropriate consequences.  That disciplinary process is detailed in the navigation subheadings for this section. 

To read Cal Poly's complete sexual assault policy, see Sexual Assault Policy.

What if I am charged?

University procedures and sanctions are separate from any criminal charges or civil proceedings. University procedures may be conducted before, concurrently, or after any legal actions. While the standard of proof required in a criminal court is "beyond a reasonable doubt," the university's standard of proof is that an incident's occurrence is "more likely than not," which is proved by a preponderance of the evidence. Possible sanctions and the role of attorneys also differ in the two systems.

If the Title IX investigation concludes that sexual misconduct by a Cal Poly student occurred, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) will begin a disciplinary investigation. The disciplinary investigation will incorporate information and findings from the Title IX report. 

Since sexual misconduct is defined as an activity that threatens or endangers another's health or safety, a student may be subject to interim suspension even before the conclusion of the OSRR investigation. Interim suspension prevents the student from entering the Cal Poly campus except to meet with the OSRR Director to discuss the imposition of the suspension. Information about interim suspension is available at The Process. Consult the section entitled "The Process" and open the link to Executive Order 1098, Article VI.

The charged student is entitled to have an advisor, including an attorney, or other support person(s) present in any meetings throughout the process. If the charged student's advisor is an attorney, the student must notify OSRR of the attorney's attendance at least five days prior to a meeting. The advisor cannot represent the student or serve as the student's advocate in the disciplinary process.

During the investigation of a disciplinary charge, the charged student is entitled to present information, including witnesses. The charged student and complainant will have equal access to investigative reports. Once the disciplinary investigation is completed, OSRR will meet with the charged student to explain the results of the investigation. If a violation of the Standards for Student Conduct is established by a preponderance of the evidence, a disciplinary charge will be filed.

The disciplinary charge may be resolved in pre-conference meetings. If, however, no agreement can be reached between the charged student and the University, a formal hearing will be conducted in accordance with the provisions of Executive Order 1097. The physical setting of a hearing can be arranged to avoid direct visual and verbal contact between the charged student and the participating complainant. 

Disciplinary sanctions could include a stay away order, reasonable modifications of class schedules and other on-campus activities, counseling referrals or other educational activities, community service, disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion. 

For additional information about the Cal Poly disciplinary process, contact OSRR at 805-756-2794 or www.osrr.calpoly.edu.

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