Washington University in St. Louis has established the Discrimination and Harassment Hearing Committee (DHHC). This is a standing administrative hearing committee for formal complaints of discrimination or harassment brought against faculty members pursuant to the university’s policy on discrimination and harassment. Members of the DHHC serve as Panel members for the Discrimination and Harassment Hearing Committee Procedures (described below), the Faculty Title IX Grievance Process and the Staff Title IX Grievance Process.
Complaints to this committee must involve allegations of discrimination or harassment based on race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability or genetic information.
DHHC composition and panel selection
- DHCC Role: The DHHC is a standing committee comprised of faculty, staff and students. The DHHC conducts investigative hearings, makes factual findings, renders advisory opinions to the WashU administration regarding whether the policy on discrimination and harassment has been violated, and could recommend imposition of sanctions or remedial measures to the administration.
- DHCC Members: The DHHC shall consist of at least 20 members, approximately half of whom are faculty members appointed by the Chancellor. Inaugural appointments consist of roughly equal numbers of two- and one-year terms. Thereafter, DHHC members ordinarily serve a term of two years. Student members can be appointed to shorter terms. If a committee member cannot serve a full term, the Chancellor will appoint a replacement member for the duration of that term. The university conducts periodic training for the DHHC.
- DHCC Panel: In the event of a hearing, a panel of three DHHC members will be selected by the appropriate discrimination and harassment response/Title IX Coordinator (the “coordinator”). The panel will consist of at least two faculty members, one of whom will be appointed by the coordinator to serve as chairperson. The remaining composition of the panel will vary depending on the status of the parties. If the Complainant is a student, the panel ordinarily will include one student. If the Complainant is a staff member, the panel ordinarily will include one staff member. If the Complainant is a faculty member, all members of the panel will be faculty members.
Panel report and dean’s decision
- Recommendations: Based on its post-hearing deliberations, the panel – by majority agreement – will make factual findings, render an advisory opinion regarding whether the Respondent violated the policy on discrimination and harassment, and recommend any appropriate sanctions or remedial measures to the dean of the school in which the Respondent holds a primary appointment. Findings of fact, advisory opinions and recommendations are limited to the relevant issues in dispute before the panel.
- Written Report: The panel submits a written report of its findings, advisory opinion and recommendations to the dean, with a copy to the parties and the coordinator, ordinarily within 14 calendar days following the completion of the investigative hearing. Any panel member is able to include a written dissent or concurrence with the report.
- Dean’s Notification: Ordinarily, within seven calendar days following receipt of the panel’s report, the dean shall notify the parties and the coordinator in writing of his/her decision regarding whether a violation of the policy on discrimination and harassment occurred and imposing any sanctions or remedial measures. The dean’s decision will be based on the panel’s report. Upon request, the dean will be given access to the complete hearing record. The dean may request clarification or further fact-finding from the panel prior to rendering a decision. If the dean does not accept the opinions or recommendations of the panel majority, the dean will provide the parties, panel and coordinator with a concise written explanation of the reasons for that decision.
- Dean’s Decision: The dean’s decision ordinarily will be rendered within 60 calendar days of the initial submission of the complaint.
- Requesting Review: Within 14 calendar days following receipt of the dean’s written decision, a party has the option to seek review by the Advisory Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the decision by submitting to the coordinator a written request, which outlines the basis for the requested review. The coordinator shall ensure that the advisory committee and the other party promptly receive a copy of the request. In preparing the request and any response, the parties will be permitted to listen to the recording of the hearing at the office of the coordinator, but will not be provided a copy.
- Written Recommendations: The advisory committee will review the party’s written request for review and allow the other party an opportunity to respond in writing. Ordinarily within 14 calendar days following receipt of the written request for review, the advisory committee will – by majority vote – issue written recommendations to the provost, with copies to the parties, the dean and the coordinator.
- Scope of the Review: The scope of such review by the advisory committee is limited to determining: whether the procedures set forth were fairly implemented; if the facts established by the panel constitute a violation of the policy on discrimination and harassment, and/or if the sanctions are insufficient or excessive. The advisory committee cannot reconsider factual findings.
- Written Decision: Ordinarily, within 10 calendar days following receipt of the advisory committee’s written recommendations, the provost shall issue a written decision, with copies to the parties, the dean and the coordinator. The scope of the provost’s review will be the same as for the advisory committee. The provost’s decision shall be final and nonreviewable, except that a decision to initiate tenure revocation or termination for cause proceedings will trigger the procedures set out in sections VIII and IX of the Washington University in St. Louis Policy on Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure.
- At any point before or during any of the proceedings described above, the university can determine that supportive measures – directed at the parties, witnesses or a broader university population – are necessary and appropriate to prevent and/or respond to discrimination or discriminatory harassment.
- Depending on the specific nature of the allegation, such measures could include implementation of a No Contact Order or temporary leave of absence; course/classroom assignment changes; medical or counseling services; academic support services and accommodations; and additional training and education. Such measures will be taken in accordance with applicable WashU policies.
Common feelings after being accused of sexual misconduct
Whenever a person is accused of a policy violation, emotional responses will differ from person to person, especially if the policy violation in question is associated with sexual misconduct. Being accused of sexual misconduct can be a painful and challenging experience.
It is important to remember that your responses to these accusations are normal reactions to a difficult situation. If you are accused of sexual misconduct, you may deal with some unanticipated emotions. Below are examples of feelings you may experience:
- Anger: Anger is a common emotion whenever someone has been accused of sexual misconduct. This is an appropriate response; however, the important factor to consider when dealing with anger is how you process through the anger. There are several ways you can vent any anger you are experiencing (browse our resources for professional and nonprofessional counseling options). Internalizing your anger could lead you to become irritable, anxious or even depressed. When dealing with anger, it is important not to resort to unhealthy manners of coping including the consumption of alcohol, the use of drugs, causing harm to yourself or others, or destructive behavior.
- Fear: Fear can take many forms. You may be experiencing fear of the unknown as the outcome of the investigation can impact your status at the university. You may also fear how those closest to you perceive you along with other members of the university community. Also, it is common to have fear of someone retaliating against you.
- Impact on Your Daily Life: With all the emotions listed, your daily life may also feel the impact of the sexual misconduct allegation. While participating in an investigation, it may become challenging to pay attention to work and follow through with your responsibilities. Other areas of your life that may be impacted include: sleep routine, change in appetite, increase in anxiety and depression. If you have questions, please contact the Title IX Coordinator at 314-935-3118.
- Feeling Alone: Being accused of sexual misconduct may cause you to feel alone since the allegation is against you. Taking on the burden of the allegation may cause you to withdraw from your support networks because you may feel like it is “your problem.” It is common for individuals who are accused to prefer not to discuss the situation with anyone for fear of embarrassment or how it may be perceived by others. However, talking with a counselor or adviser may offer assistance with processing your experiences and feelings.
All these emotions can be overwhelming and it is important to remember there are resources both on and off campus to assist you.