The UWC process involves a series of steps: bringing or responding to a complaint, selecting an advisor, meeting with an investigator, receiving and responding to the investigator’s report and to any evidence not included in the report that is directly related to the allegation, attending a hearing, receiving the hearing panel’s decision, and filing any appeal of the decision. Below you will find information about what to expect at each stage. Please note: Parties to a proceeding before the UWC must be familiar with the UWC’s Procedures, and the information below is not a substitute for familiarity with the Procedures.
Choosing an advisor
We encourage you to have an advisor for support during the formal complaint process and recommend that you meet in person with your advisor as soon as you are able. Let your advisor know how you are coping with the process.
Exploring supportive measures
You may reach out to your Title IX Coordinator to discuss the possibility of supportive measures such as accommodations for academic assignments, Dean’s excuses for papers/exams, excuses from coaches for sports commitments, or other non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services designed to restore or preserve equal access to Yale’s education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party.
Adhering to the no-contact order
Once a responding party is formally charged by the UWC, a no-contact order will be put in place between the parties. The arrangement requires that there be no contact – either direct or indirect – between the person bringing the complaint and the responding party; this includes oral, electronic, written or third-party communication. The UWC’s procedures prohibit retaliation against any person for participating in the UWC process. The cognizant Title IX Coordinator will contact you about implementation of the no-contact order and any other interim measures that may be needed while the proceedings are underway.
Meeting with the UWC Secretary
You should schedule a meeting with your advisor and the secretary administering the case to review the UWC process. These meetings are best done in person, but may be done by phone or video conference if necessary. Before meeting with the UWC secretary, you and your advisor should review the UWC procedures, the relevant timelines and the Statement on Confidentiality of UWC Documents. The secretary will be a resource for you and your advisor when questions arise during the process.
Addressing conflicts of interest and bias
A UWC staff member will contact you to review the people who will be involved in investigating and deciding your case and ask whether you believe any of these people have a conflict of interest or bias in the matter. Once contacted, you will have five days to notify the staff member of possible conflicts or bias.
Receiving and reviewing documents
During the course of the UWC process, you will receive documents such as the complaint, all evidence that is directly related to the allegation, an investigator’s report, a decision report, and any appeal materials. These documents may be sent directly to you, or, if you prefer, they can be sent first to your advisor. Whenever possible, you should discuss these documents with your advisor very soon after receiving them.
Sections 4.11 and 5.11 of the UWC’s Procedures set forth the time periods that generally apply to the review of a formal complaint. The UWC chair may extend a time period for good cause such as illness, holidays, the absence of witnesses from campus, the complexity of the allegations, or competing demands on UWC members. You will be informed by the secretary or chair if a time period is extended, and the chair’s decision regarding extensions is final.
The investigator’s role
The role of the investigator is to conduct interviews and gather documents as necessary to reach a thorough understanding of the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations of the complaint. The investigator is interested in hearing your account of what happened and any related facts and in receiving any supporting materials you wish to provide. Depending on the facts and circumstances of a case, the investigator may need to conduct one or more follow-up interviews with parties and witnesses. Investigators report on the facts, but do not reach conclusions as to whether a violation of University policy has occurred.
Your advisor’s role in the investigation
Your advisor may accompany you to meetings with the investigator for support, however, they may not speak for you during an interview.
Preparing for the investigation interview
Before your interview, you may wish to gather any relevant documents you have (text messages, emails, photos, diary entries, etc.) and prepare a list of witnesses who may have information relevant to the facts of the case. Documents submitted to the investigator that they conclude are relevant may be included in the investigator’s report and shared with the other party. In addition, the investigator will share with both parties all evidence they receive that is directly related to the allegations.
It is important to be honest with the investigtor. The investigator may need to ask you detailed questions that are personal and sensitive in nature. You may ask for clarifications of questions whenever you think it would be helpful, and you may ask to take breaks whenever you need them during the interviews. You may ask the investigator to copy your advisor on any communications to you.
Reviewing the investigator’s report
The investigator will include in their report any evidence that the investigator concludes is relevant to the allegations. In addition, they will provide both parties with any evidence they gather that is directly related to the allegations. You will have ten days to review and comment on this evidence. You will also receive the investigator’s report, and you will have an additional ten days to review it and to provide a written response, which will be shared with the hearing panel. Your response to the investigator’s report is an opportunity for you to draw the hearing panel’s attention to key aspects of the case that you wish to highlight. The directly related evidence and the investigator’s report may be lengthy, with many supporting documents. You may wish to schedule a time to review these with your advisor.
Preparing for the Hearing
Preparing for the panel interview
It may be helpful to review the investigator’s report carefully before the hearing. While doing so, you may wish to note any questions you would like the hearing panel to ask the other party. There will be time at the hearing, after the other party is interviewed, to modify or supplement the questions you have prepared.
Communicating with your advisor during the hearing
Advisors are not permitted to speak for you during the hearing, but they may provide you with advice. You may wish to discuss with your advisor in advance how you will communicate with one another in the hearing room (e.g., written notes, a tap on the shoulder, or your request to the panel chair for a brief recess). Panels will not draw any inferences from a party’s request to consult with their advisor or a request for a recess during an interview.
Transportation and arrival time
We ask you and your advisor to arrive at the time indicated by the UWC to avoid any direct contact with the other party and to minimize delays. If you wish to arrange a visit to the hearing space in advance of the hearing, to become familiar with the setting, please contact the UWC secretary in your case.
If you believe the panel should interview particular witnesses who can provide relevant testimony, please submit to the UWC secretary the names of the witnesses and the subject of their testimony within ten days of receiving the investigator’s report. The hearing officer will decide which witnesses to call.
Addressing the other party
On the day of the hearing, you will not be asked to engage directly with the other party. You and your advisor will have a private room and be able to view and hear the proceedings in the main hearing room via video transmission when you are not in the hearing room. Arrivals and departures to the hearing are intentionally staggered to avoid any direct contact. When necessary, hearings may be conducted virtually.
The hearing process
The hearing is intended primarily to allow the hearing panel to interview the parties with respect to the investigator’s report. The hearing officer will begin the hearing by explaining the substance of the complaint and the specific University policy or policies allegedly violated.
The hearing panel will first interview the complainant and then the respondent. You should feel free to ask the hearing officer to clarify a question if you are unsure of what is being asked. At the end of each interview, the hearing officer will ask the interviewee whether they have any additional thoughts about the case they wish to share. This is an opportunity for you to convey any final thoughts to the hearing panel.
At the conclusion of each interview, there will be a brief recess during which the party who is not before the panel and their advisor may discuss questions to ask the interviewee. In cases where the allegations are governed by federal regulations (“Title IX sexual misconduct”; see section 4 of the UWC Procedures), questions may be posed directly by the other party’s advisor. In cases where the allegations are not governed by federal regulations (see section 5 of the UWC Procedures), questions must be submitted to the hearing officer in writing. In either case, the hearing officer will permit those questions that they conclude are relevant.
If you are unable to see or hear the proceedings at any point, please contact a UWC staff member immediately.
Breaks and lunch
If the hearing lasts past 12:00 p.m., lunch will be provided. A UWC staff member will coordinate lunch and any other breaks. If you have any dietary restrictions, please notify the UWC project coordinator.
After the Hearing
The decision report
The hearing panel will prepare a decision report, usually within fourteen days of the hearing. You may choose to receive the report directly or through your advisor. The report will contain the panel’s findings of fact, conclusions as to whether violations of policy occurred, and the panel’s rationale for the conclusions. If the panel finds that there was a violation, the decision report will also contain any remedies to be provided to the complainant and any penalties to be imposed on the respondent.
Persons found to have violated Yale’s sexual misconduct policies may receive penalties up to and including expulsion from the University or termination of University employment, as described in the applicable faculty, trainee, student, and staff policies and regulations.
Appealing the decision
If you decide, after reviewing the decision, that you wish to appeal, you may do so in writing, within seven days after the decision is made by sending your appeal to the UWC Secretary. There are three bases for appeal: (i) procedural error that affected the outcome of the matter, (ii) the discovery of new evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the decision regarding responsibility was made and that could affect the outcome of the matter, or (iii) a conflict of interest or bias by an involved Title IX Coordinator, UWC Chair, UWC Secretary, the investigator, the hearing officer, or another panel member, that affected the outcome of the matter.
Responding to an appeal
The secretary will provide you with a copy of any appeal received from the other party, and you will have the opportunity to respond in writing. The response must be sent to the secretary within seven days after receipt of the appeal.
If the appeal is granted, the matter will be returned to the hearing panel for its reconsideration. In the appeal decision, the hearing panel may be given instructions on the nature and extent of its reconsideration. The hearing panel will act promptly to reconsider the matter and issue a new decision report to the appellate decision maker. The appellate decision maker will either accept the new decision report or revise it. The Secretary will send the final decision report to the parties.