Western Governors University Discrimination Grievance Procedures
The purpose of these procedures is to provide a prompt and equitable resolution for complaints or reports of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, age, marital or family status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Any person believing that they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment on any of these bases may file a complaint or report with the University. These procedures address all complaints of conduct that violates the WGU Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking and Retaliation Policy (hereinafter referred to as “policy violations”). The procedures also address complaints or reports of retaliation against those who have opposed practices forbidden under the policy, those who have filed complaints or reports under the policy, and those who have testified or otherwise participated in enforcement of the policy.
University Complaints and Reporting
Complaints and third-party reports of discrimination, including policy violations, should be made to the WGU Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator and designee (“Title IX coordinator”) are trained to help you find the resources you might need, explain all reporting options, and respond appropriately to conduct of concern. Complaints and reports should be made as soon as possible after an incident. All instances of retaliation should be reported and will be addressed in the same manner. The Title IX coordinator will coordinate and track all complaints and reports under this procedure. The contact information for WGU's Title IX coordinator is:
Dr. Lucas Kavlie
Title IX Coordinator
Western Governors University
4001 South 700 East, Suite 700
Salt Lake City, Utah 84107
There are several avenues available to submit a complaint or report:
Complaints should include the following information:
If there is a complaint about the Title IX coordinator or designee, or if the Title IX coordinator or designee has a complaint, that complaint should be filed with the Provost of the University. The provost will appoint a trained staff member for purposes of the complaint.
Please remember that if someone is in immediate danger or needs immediate medical attention, the first place to report it is 911. Some forms of discrimination and harassment may also be crimes. For example, sexual assault, stalking and rape are crimes. Possible criminal activity should be reported to law enforcement in your area, even if it is uncertain whether the particular conduct is a crime. Calling local law enforcement can help you: obtain emergency and nonemergency medical care; get immediate law enforcement response for your protection; understand how to provide assistance in a situation that may escalate to more severe criminal behavior; arrange a meeting with victim advocate services; find counseling and support; initiate a criminal investigation; and answer questions about the criminal process.
Confidentiality of Complaints and Reports
Parties in these processes, including the complainant, the individual accused of a policy violation (“respondent”), and witnesses, have privacy rights and reasonable expectations of confidentiality during the investigation of matters subject to this procedure. In addition, the integrity of the process depends on ensuring reasonable expectations of confidentiality. The Title IX coordinator and designees will maintain confidentiality of the complaint, report, witness statements, and any other information provided by the complainant, respondent, or witnesses and will disclose this information only to: the complainant, respondent, or witnesses, as necessary to give fair notice of the allegations and to conduct the investigation; to law enforcement consistent with state and federal law; to other University officials as necessary for coordinating interim measures or for health, welfare, and safety reasons, and to government agencies who review the University’s compliance with federal law.
The investigation report and any written decisions will be disclosed only to the complainant, respondent, and, as necessary to prepare for subsequent proceedings, the Title IX coordinator, and University officials (e.g., director of Human Resources, and University legal counsel). University staff members have strict obligations to keep all information they learn confidential, subject to the limited exception when necessary to protect health, welfare or safety. Information about complaints and reports, absent personally identifiable information, may be reported to University officials and external entities for statistical and analysis purposes pursuant to federal and state law and University policy.
Anonymous and Third Party Reporting
The University accepts anonymous and third-party reports of alleged policy violations and will follow up on such reports. The individual making the report ("reporter") is encouraged to provide as much detailed information as possible to allow the University to investigate and respond as appropriate. Anonymous reports may limit the Title IX coordinator’s ability to investigate an incident unless sufficient information is furnished to enable a meaningful and fair investigation.
Reporter or Complainant Requests No Investigation
If a reporter or complainant requests that an investigation not be conducted, the Title IX coordinator will consider the reasons for the request, including concerns about continued safety of the person reportedly harmed and members of the WGU community. The Title IX coordinator must also balance considerations about the continued health and safety of members of the community against a reporter’s or complainant’s desire not to have the report investigated. In cases where a reporter or complainant does not want to have a report investigated, but the Title IX coordinator has concerns that not taking formal or informal action might endanger the health or safety of members of the campus community, the Title IX coordinator will initiate confidential consultation with appropriate individuals to assist in determining appropriate next measures. Consultation may occur with the provost, the vice president of human resources, and University legal counsel. The Title IX coordinator will make the ultimate decision about whether to conduct a formal investigation or respond to the report in another manner, including taking informal actions, such as those described above.
Counseling and Support
If a student wishes to confidentially discuss an incident or seek resources without filing a report with the University, he or she may contact WellConnect at 1-877-685-3269 to speak with a counselor, or contact off-campus rape crisis resources. WellConnect counselors will maintain confidentiality and are not required to report to the University.
Additional resources, including information and community referrals, can be accessed via the WGU Student Advantage portal at my.wgu.edu/success-centers/wellconnect.
Role of the Title IX Coordinator
The WGU Title IX coordinator is charged with coordinating the University’s compliance with federal civil rights laws, all of which are listed at the end of these procedures. Upon receipt of a complaint, Title IX coordinator will determine whether the allegation stated in the complaint constitutes an allegation of prohibited conduct under this policy and, if warranted, designate trained investigator(s) and attempt to resolve the complaint. The Title IX coordinator or designee is not an advocate for either the complainant or the respondent.
The Title IX coordinator or designee will explain to both parties the informal and formal processes outlined below and the confidentiality provisions as outlined above. Where appropriate, both parties receive information about options for obtaining medical and counseling services; information about making a criminal report; information about receiving victim advocacy services; and information about other potentially helpful resources. The Title IX coordinator or designee will offer to coordinate with other University officials, when appropriate, to implement interim remedial measures such as interim suspension, no-contact orders or academic accommodations.
The Title IX coordinator or designee will describe the process of a fair and impartial investigation, including the right of the Respondent to review and respond to allegations and evidence against him or her. Title IX designees will explain to both parties their rights to have an advisor with them during their interviews and during the hearing stage of these procedures. If an individual does not want to pursue a complaint, the Title IX coordinator or designee will inform that individual that the University is limited in the actions it can take without their cooperation. The Title IX coordinator also explains to parties and witnesses that retaliation for reporting alleged violations of the policy, or participating in an investigation of an alleged violation, is strictly prohibited and that any retaliation should be reported immediately and will be promptly addressed.
Role of the Discrimination Grievance Committee
The Discrimination Grievance Committee’s role is to hear appeals of the Title IX coordinator’s decision. The committee is responsible for conducting hearings and rendering decisions as described below.
Immediate Action and Interim Measures
The Title IX coordinator or designee may take interim measures to assist or protect the parties during the grievance process, as necessary and with the complainant’s consent. Such measures for a student complainant may include arranging for course and personnel changes, issuing a no-contact order, or assistance in obtaining counseling. With respect to student respondents, the Title IX coordinator or designee may prohibit a student from engaging in certain student activities or recommend to the provost temporary suspension from the University during its investigation. With respect to WGU employees and contractors, the Title IX coordinator may recommend to WGU Human Resources department temporary reassignment or administrative leave for either the complainant or respondent.
If a complainant chooses to file a complaint, there are two avenues for resolution of an alleged policy violation: formal and informal resolution. The complainant has the option to proceed informally, when permissible. In cases involving allegations of sexual assault, informal resolution is not appropriate, even if both the complainant and respondent indicate a preference for informal resolution. The Title IX coordinator is available to explain the informal and formal resolution procedures.
If the complainant, the respondent, and the Title IX coordinator all agree that an informal resolution should be pursued, the Title IX coordinator shall attempt to facilitate a resolution of the conflict that is agreeable to all parties. Under the informal process the Title IX coordinator shall be required only to conduct such fact-finding as is useful to resolve the conflict and as is necessary to protect the interests of the parties and the University community. Typically, an informal investigation will be completed within twenty (20) days of receipt of the complaint. If it becomes necessary to extend the process, both parties will be notified of a revised expected resolution timeframe.
A complainant or respondent always has the option to request a formal investigation. The Title IX coordinator also always has the discretion to initiate a formal investigation. If at any point during the informal process, the complainant, the respondent, or the Title IX coordinator wishes to cease the informal process to proceed through formal grievance procedures, the formal process outlined below will be invoked.
The informal resolution must adequately address the rights and concerns of both the complainant and respondent, and uphold the overall intent of the University to stop, remedy and prevent policy violations. (Informal actions might include, but are not limited to: providing training to a work unit; having an informal discussion with an individual whose conduct, if not stopped, could rise to the level of discrimination, or hostile environment harassment; or having a confidential conversation with a supervisor or mentor).
B. Formal Process
Step 1: The Title IX coordinator or designee discusses concerns with complainant, and the respondent as appropriate, including providing information about the policy and procedures and other helpful resources. The Title IX coordinator also considers whether immediate or interim actions or involvement of other University offices is appropriate. The Title IX coordinator determines whether the office has jurisdiction to investigate the matter. The Title IX coordinator only has jurisdiction to investigate complaints alleging discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, stalking, and retaliation involving students, employees, and third parties that occurs on WGU-controlled properties and networks, as well as offsite conduct when that conduct can affect the WGU community. Other student complaints are referred to WGU Student Services for review and resolution.
Step 2: The Title IX coordinator oversees a fair and impartial investigation of the alleged policy violation and proceeds to step 3. Typically, an investigation is completed within twenty (20) days of receipt of the complaint. If it becomes necessary to extend the process, both parties will be notified of a revised expected resolution timeframe.
The Title IX coordinator will only appoint trained investigators to conduct an investigation. Respondents will have the opportunity to review and respond to evidence considered against them. Both parties will have the opportunity to review and provide comments to the investigator about the written investigation report before it is finalized.
Step 3: The investigator determines whether evidence supports a finding that an individual engaged in conduct constituting a policy violation. This means that individuals are presumed not to have violated the policy unless a “preponderance of the evidence” supports a finding that the conduct has occurred. This “preponderance of the evidence” standard requires that each finding is supported by evidence that the conduct is more likely to have occurred than not.
In making the determination of whether harassment has created a hostile environment, an investigator will consider not only whether the conduct was unwelcome to the complainant, but also whether a reasonable person in the complainant’s situation would have perceived the conduct as objectively offensive. The investigator’s findings will be in writing and will be provided to both the complainant and to the respondent(s).
Relation to the Student Code of Conduct
The Title IX coordinator is charged with implementing sanctions for violations of the Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking and Retaliation Policy per the available sanctions listed in the Code of Student Conduct. Disciplinary records for policy violations are maintained in the same manner as other disciplinary records, as described Student Code of Conduct.
Appeals to the Discrimination Grievance Committee
The final decision of the Title IX coordinator may be appealed to the Discrimination Grievance Committee.
Composition of the Committee
The members and chair of the Discrimination Grievance Committee (the “committee”) shall be selected and appointed by the provost of the University or the provost’s designee. The committee shall have three (3) regular members including the chair. Of the three regular members:
Authority of the Committee
The committee may: (1) call student and employee witnesses to testify or to be present during a hearing, and obtain other evidence held by the University or any student or University employee; (2) hold pre-hearing conferences; (3) issue hearing orders; (4) hold formal hearings and control conduct of such hearings; and (5) make decisions, findings of fact, and recommendations, including recommended sanctions, by vote of a majority of the regular members involved in the hearing process.
Filing an Appeal
A request for a hearing before the committee must be filed within five (5) working days, of the receipt of the Title IX coordinator’s decision, unless good cause can be shown for an extension of time. The request for a hearing must be filed with the Title IX coordinator. The request for a hearing must be in writing and describe the appellant’s desired outcome; as well as describe how the appellant believes the investigator: (1) exhibited unfair bias which influenced the result of the investigation; (2) failed to conduct a thorough investigation; (3) issued arbitrary findings and recommendations; (4) had a conflict of interest; or (5) issued findings and recommendations that if adopted would result in substantial injustice. As soon as practicable, the investigator will provide the non-appealing party and the chair of the committee with a copy of the written appeal.
Standard of Review
The committee reviews the findings and recommendations implemented by Title IX coordinator. The committee may approve, overturn, or modify the findings and recommendations of the investigator or Title IX coordinator. The committee may overturn or modify the findings and recommendations if it finds that the investigator or Title IX coordinator: (1) exhibited unfair bias which influenced the result of the investigation; (2) failed to conduct a thorough investigation; (3) issued arbitrary findings and recommendations; (4) had a conflict of interest; or (5) issued findings and recommendations that if adopted would result in substantial injustice.
Notice of Hearing
Within ten (10) working days of receipt of the written request for a hearing, the investigator will notify the Complainant and the Respondent of the time and place of the formal hearing before the committee. The hearing will normally be scheduled within thirty (30) days of receipt of the written appeal. If such an appeal causes a significant delay, the Title IX coordinator will consider interim measures, as described above, to continue to protect the parties during the process.
Preparation for and Conduct of the Hearing
Written Statements on Appeal
Within ten (10) working days of filing the appeal, the party appealing the decision must submit to the investigator the following information:
The non-appealing party may also submit the information described in (a) through (f), above. If the non-appealing party will participate in the hearing that party must notify the investigator as described above at (g) whether he or she will be represented by an advisor. In cases in which the non-appealing party chooses not to participate in the hearing, the Title IX coordinator will provide to the committee, in addition to the written investigation report, any additional documents or other materials, and names and addresses of any witnesses the Title IX coordinator believes should be provided to the committee at the hearing.
Forwarding Appeal Documents
The investigator will forward copies of the written investigation report; the above-listed materials; and any additional evidence relevant to the matter to the members of the committee at least five (5) days prior to the hearing.
At any time within five (5) days prior to the date of the formal hearing the Chair of the Committee may call a pre-hearing conference. Topics discussed at a pre-hearing conference may include, but are not limited to: (a) whether the evidence presented is complete; (b) whether additional investigation is required; (c) whether additional witnesses should be called; and (d) time limits and order of presentation of evidence at the hearing. At the request of any party, the Chair will conduct separate meetings with the appellant and the respondent for purposes of the pre-hearing conference.
With concurrence of a majority of the Committee, the Chair may decide to: set aside the hearing date for any period up to ten (10) days for additional investigation, to obtain additional witnesses or evidence.
The chair of the committee will conduct the hearing. The hearing will be a non-adversarial proceeding and strict rules of evidence will not be applied. However, the chair of the committee may limit or refuse to allow evidence or testimony that is not reasonably related to a determination of whether a violation of the policy occurred.
The hearing will be conducted to assure fairness and accuracy in fact finding. The parties and witnesses will address the members of the committee rather than each other. The chair will be the final arbiter of all matters of procedure. All hearings are closed to the public and members of the WGU community who are not invited and involved in the proceeding.
Within ten (10) working days of the conclusion of the formal hearing the Discrimination Grievance Committee will submit a decision in writing to the Title IX Coordinator and to the Provost. The written decision will contain the following:
Action on Decision
The committee will report its decision to the Title IX coordinator who is responsible for implementing sanctions and other outcomes as well as communicating the final decision in writing to parties. The decision of the Discrimination Grievance Committee is final and binding on all involved.
Conflict of Interest and Training
All University officials involved in the discrimination grievance process, including the Title IX coordinator, designated investigators, and Discrimination Grievance Committee will have adequate training. Training will address, but is not limited to, recognizing and appropriately responding to allegations of discrimination, harassment, including hostile environment harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation, conducting investigations, protecting confidentiality, and recognizing the link between alcohol and drug use and sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The names of the investigator and the individuals who will serve on the Discrimination Grievance Committee for a particular matter will be readily accessible. These individuals must promptly disclose any potential conflict of interest they might have in a particular case. In the rare situation in which an actual or perceived conflict of interest arises with an investigator or member of the Discrimination Grievance Committee, the conflict must be disclosed to both parties.
If you filed a complaint with the Title IX coordinator and believe the University’s response was inadequate, or you otherwise believe you have been discriminated against by the University on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, including sexual harassment, disability, age, or retaliation, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education based in Denver, CO.
References: Titles IV, VI, and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; 34 C.F.R. pt. 100; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; 28 C.F.R. pt. 54 and 34 C.F.R. pt. 106; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 C.F.R. pt. 104; Age Discrimination Act of 1975; 34 C.F.R. pt. 110; and Titles I and II of the Americans with Disabilities Act; 28 C.F.R. pt. 35.
Article Number: 56111