College 101

Your Rights and Your School’s Responsibilities

  • Your school has the responsibility to respond promptly and effectively to each report of sexual violence.
  • If a school knows about sexual violence occurring on campus it is responsible for investigating quickly and taking steps to resolve the case.
  • What this means for you- you have the right to report an assault to your school AND/OR the local police and expect a prompt investigation and a resolution.
  • Your school is responsible for having a published sexual assault policy including their investigation, complaint, and disciplinary procedures. They must also have a Title IX coordinator on campus and make sure every student knows how to contact them.
  • What this means for you- You have the right to understand and ask questions about your school’s sexual assault policies and procedures.
  • Even if there is a criminal investigation happening your school is still responsible for taking its own action.
  • What this means for you- even if police are investigating the assault, if you reported the incident to your school (or if they have other reason to know, such as information from law enforcement) then they are required to conduct their own investigation.
  • Every school must ensure that the survivor of the sexual violence is safe, even if the investigation isn’t complete.
  • What this means for you- your school must protect you, even before it finishes investigating. You have the right to receive help if you need it, like changing classes, dorms, or transportation.
  • What else this means for you- no one has the right to retaliate against you for making a report. If the alleged perpetrator, other students, faculty, or staff harass you in any way related to your report then you have the right to report the harassment and expect the school to take strong action in response.
  • Your school has the responsibility to clearly identify the people you can go to for confidential support, who can provide services like advocacy, counseling, or academic support without triggering and investigation by the school.
  • What this means for you- you have the right to report your assault and get help anonymously, without the school investigating. But, not everyone on campus can keep your information confidential, some are required to report and investigate. Your school should make clear in their sexual assault policy who you can go to for confidential help, but ALWAYS ask if someone is confidential before telling them about the assault if you don’t want to report.

Here are the rights you have if an investigation happens

  • You have a right to know what’s happening in the investigation and how long it will take.
  • You have the right to present witnesses and evidence during the investigation and disciplinary process.
  • If the alleged perpetrator is allowed to have a lawyer then you are too.
  • Your school must use a ‘preponderance-of-evidence’ standard of proof to decide the case. That means they must decide based on what is most likely to have happened given the evidence. This is not the same as criminal court, it does NOT have to be ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.
  • You have the right to be notified, in writing, of any decisions the school makes about your complaint, including appeals.
  • If the school allows for appeals then the appeals process must be open to both parties.
  • You have the right to document any proceedings, including written transcripts of audio recording.
  • You have the right to refuse mediation if it is suggested. Mediation is not appropriate in cases of sexual assault and should not be used by the school to resolve the complaint.

Although these resources have been written with lots of research and the guidance of legal experts, we are not lawyers. The information on this website does not constitute legal advice.