The UWC process involves a series of steps: bringing or responding to a complaint, meeting with a fact-finder, attending a hearing, and receiving and responding to post-hearing reports and decisions. 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 adviser
We encourage you to have an adviser for support during the formal complaint process and recommend that you meet in person with your adviser as soon as you are able. Let your adviser know how you are coping with the process.
Exploring interim measures or accommodations
You may reach out to your Title IX Coordinator to discuss the possibility of accommodations for academic assignments, Dean’s excuses for papers/exams, excuses from coaches for sports commitments, etc.
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 adviser 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 Skype if needed. Before meeting with the UWC secretary, you and your adviser should review the UWC procedures and the relevant timelines and the Statement on Confidentiality of UWC Proceedings. The secretary will be a resource for you and your adviser when questions arise during the process.
Addressing conflicts of interest
A UWC staff member will contact you to review the committee membership and the decision maker and ask whether there are any persons whom you think could not hear the case fairly. Once contacted, you will have two days to notify the staff member of any possible conflicts. View the UWC membership roster here.
Receiving and reviewing documents
During the course of the UWC process, you will receive documents such as the complaint or response, a fact-finder’s report, a panel report, a decision, and any appeal materials. These documents may be sent directly to you, or, if you prefer, they can be sent first to your adviser. Whenever possible, you should discuss these documents with your adviser close in time to their receipt.
Section 7.8 of the UWC’s Procedures sets 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 or decision makers. 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 fact-finder’s role
The fact-finder assigned to your case is an impartial investigator. Their role 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 fact-finder 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 fact-finder may need to conduct one or more follow-up interviews with parties and witnesses. Fact-finders report on the facts of the case and may make observations regarding credibility. They do not, however, reach conclusions as to whether a violation of University policy has occurred.
Your adviser’s role in fact-finding
Your adviser may accompany you to meetings with the fact-finder for support, however, they may not speak for you during an interview.
Preparing for the fact-finding 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. (The UWC does not accept character testimony.) Documents submitted to the fact-finder may be included in the fact-finder’s report and shared with the other party, if the fact-finder believes that they are relevant.
It is important to be honest with the fact-finder. The fact-finder 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 fact-finder to copy your adviser on any communications to you.
Reviewing the fact-finder’s report
The fact-finder’s report may be lengthy, with many supporting documents. You may wish to schedule a time to review it with your adviser.
Preparing for the Hearing
Parties are permitted to give opening statements at the hearing. The statements are generally one or two pages in length, and each party is given ten minutes to present them to the hearing panel. This is an opportunity for you to draw the hearing panel’s attention to key aspects of the case that you wish to highlight. If you provide the panel with a written copy of your statement, a copy will be given to the other party and become part of the written record in the case.
Responding to the fact-finder’s report
If you believe there are errors or omissions in the fact-finder’s report, you may address them in your opening statement or during the panel interview.
Preparing for the panel interview
It may be helpful to review the fact-finder’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 adviser during the hearing
Advisers are not permitted to speak for you during the hearing, but they may provide you with advice. You may wish to discuss with your adviser 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 adviser or a request for a recess during an interview.
Transportation and arrival time
Confirm with your adviser the hearing location and arrival time. We ask you to arrive at the designated time 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.
If you believe the panel should interview particular witnesses, please submit to the UWC secretary the names of the witnesses and the subject of their testimony at least four days before the hearing. Normally the panel will call a witness only if the witness can offer potentially relevant information that was not conveyed to the fact-finder. Witnesses may not appear for the sole purpose of testifying about a party’s character.
Addressing the other party
On the day of the hearing, you will not be asked to engage directly with the other party. You will have a private room and be able to hear the proceedings in the main hearing room via audio transmission. You will be escorted to and from the main hearing room to your private room by a UWC staff member at the appropriate times. Arrivals and departures to the hearing are intentionally staggered to avoid any direct contact.
The hearing process
The hearing is intended primarily to allow the panel to interview the parties with respect to the fact-finder’s report. The panel chair will begin the hearing by explaining the substance of the complaint and the specific University policy or policies allegedly violated.
The complainant and then the respondent will have an opportunity to make an opening statement, and the panel will then interview the parties in the same order. You should feel free to ask the panel to clarify a question if you are unsure of what is being asked. At the end of each interview, the panel 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 panel.
At the conclusion of each interview, there will be a brief recess, at which time the party who is not before the panel may consult with their adviser and submit written questions for the other party to the panel chair. The panel will consider which, if any, of the questions will be asked.
If you have are unable to hear the proceedings, please contact a UWC staff member immediately. You will receive a staff member’s contact information at the hearing.
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
Responding to the panel’s report
The panel’s report is usually ready within ten days of the hearing. You may choose to receive the report directly or through your adviser. The report that is sent to the parties contains the panel’s findings of fact and conclusions as to whether violations of policy occurred. If you decide to respond to the panel’s report, you must do so in writing within three days of receiving the report. Your response must be sent to the secretary, who will provide it to the decision maker, along with the other relevant documents in the case, including the complaint, response, the fact-finder’s report and exhibits, and any response to the panel’s report from the other party.
The decision maker for cases involving a respondent in Yale College is the Dean of Yale College. Where the respondent is a graduate or professional student, the decision maker is the Dean of the Graduate School or the Dean of the respondent”s Professional School. In cases where the respondent is a faculty member, the decision maker is the Provost. The Associate Vice President for Human Resources is the decision maker when a complaint is made against a staff member.
On the basis of the decision maker’s own concerns or concerns raised in a response from a party, the decision maker may ask the panel to re-examine or clarify findings of fact. If necessary, the panel may submit a revised report. The decision maker will then accept the panel’s findings of fact, but may accept, reject, or modify the panel’s conclusions or recommendations, in whole or in part. The final decision whether to impose a penalty, and what penalty or penalties to impose, belongs to the relevant decision maker. The decision maker may consult with the chair of the panel regarding the panel’s conclusions and recommendations. In addition, if the decision maker contemplates materially modifying or rejecting any part of the panel’s conclusions or recommendations, the decision maker will meet with a majority of the panel to discuss the proposed decision.
Decisions are generally made within seven days after the decision maker receives the relevant case materials. You may choose to receive the decision directly or through your adviser.
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 five days after the decision is made by sending your appeal to the secretary. There are two bases for appeal: (i) procedural error that prevented the panel or decision maker from considering the matter fairly, or (ii) the discovery of facts that were not reasonably available to your advisee prior to the UWC hearing and that support the allegation of sexual misconduct or support the denial of the allegation.
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 five 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 revised report to the decision maker, and the decision maker will promptly issue a new decision, which is not subject to appeal.