Investigation Process

An investigation is the formal administrative process the university uses to find out what happened, determine who, if anyone is responsible for what happened, and whether the university discrimination/ harassment policy has been violated.  A university investigation is an administrative process, not a legal proceeding.

Typically, the information that is gathered as part of an investigation includes but is not limited to:

  • Interviews
  • Relevant evidence such as:
    • Texts
    • Emails
    • Notes
    • Photographs
    • Recordings
    • Documents
    • Diagrams and pictures
    • Other written, non-written, hard-copy and electronic materials

Investigation Process

Timeline for the Investigation and to Resolve the Complaint

The university works to resolve complaints within 60 business days from the date of the report.  Some complaints may take longer than 60 business days to resolve due to the number and location of witnesses, the academic calendar, university closings and breaks and other unanticipated or extenuating circumstances.  You will receive updates from the Director of AAEO and the investigator regarding the timeline for resolution and the reasons why the timeline may need to be extended.

Role of the Investigator

The investigator is a trained individual identified by the Director of AAEO, to investigate the complaint who is neutral and does not have an interest in the outcome of the investigation.

The role of the investigator is to gather relevant evidence and determine whether anyone violated the university’s discrimination and harassment policy.  The investigator makes such determinations based upon a preponderance of the evidence, which means based on the information available, what more likely than not occurred.

Interview with the Investigator

During the interview, the investigator will:

  • Ask you questions related to the complaint
  • Listen
  • Take notes
  • Ask you for the names of any other individuals who may have information or knowledge of the situation and about what happened
  • Provide you an opportunity to present information and material related to the situation and about what happened
  • Request that you keep the information you share with the investigator confidential while the investigation is happening.  This request is made to protect the integrity of the investigation process.

As part of the investigation process, the investigator will provide the complainant and the respondent with an opportunity to respond to the information that will be relied upon.

Investigation Report

Once the investigator has finished interviewing witnesses and gathering information, the investigator reviews the information and determines which information is relevant and will be used as part of the decision-making process. 

Next, the investigator will write an investigation report that contains:

  • The complaint and allegations made;
  • A summary of the investigation and fact-gathering process;
  • The information the investigator is using to determine what happened, and an analysis of that information;
  • A determination about what happened and who was responsible for what happened;
  • A determination regarding whether what happened is a violation of the university discrimination and harassment policy; and,
  • Instructions regarding the appeals process or other process as applicable.

Participation in the Investigation

An investigation is how the university gathers information about a complaint in order to determine whether anyone violated university policy. The investigator will make a finding and come to a conclusion based on the information made available to the investigator or that the investigator was reasonably able to gather during the investigation.  Non-participation in an investigation by a respondent or a witness will not prevent the investigation from proceeding.  The university encourages students to fully participate in an investigation and expects that employees participate in an investigation. 

Prohibition on Retaliation

The university prohibits retaliation against anyone who raises a concern or makes a report of discrimination or harassment including sexual harassment and sexual violence.  The university also prohibits retaliation against anyone who cooperates with or participates in a university investigation or process to resolve a complaint or report of discrimination or harassment.

When you make a report of discrimination or harassment you become part of the official university resolution process.  Should you believe that you are the subject of an act of retaliation as a result of making a report, contact the director of AAEO immediately so that he/she may assess the situation and offer assistance and resolution as appropriate.

What Is Retaliation?

Retaliation is action, which includes threats of retaliation or attempts at retaliation, taken against an individual(s) for making a report or complaint of discrimination or harassment, for opposing discrimination or harassment or for participating in a university discrimination resolution process, that deters the willingness of individuals to speak out against discrimination and harassment and from participating in the complaint resolution process.

Examples of retaliation may include:

  • Actions that result in an adverse impact on someone’s work or professional position (such as transfer the employee to a less desirable position)
  • Actions that inhibit or prevent full participation in the educational environment
  • Increased scrutiny of an individual’s work, actions or contributions
  • Ceasing to communicate with an employee or student such that the lack of communication has an adverse impact on the ability of the employee or student to fully participate in the work and education environment
  • Spreading false rumors about the individual, their family, partners, friends
  • Threats and intimidation (such as threatening to report an individual to the authorities)
  • Making an individual’s work or education more difficult (such as purposefully changing a work schedule to conflict with family responsibilities or academic deadlines or schedules that interfere with an individual’s academic progress)