(804) 828-1347 | equity@vcu.edu

Review the process

Picture of Laura Walsh Rugless

File a complaint

Direct all complaints to:

Laura Walsh Rugless
Title IX Coordinator
Equity and Access Services
Email: titleix@vcu.edu
Phone: (804) 828-6404
TDD: (804) 828-1420

Anyone who feels they have experienced prohibited conduct as defined in the policy on Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination is encouraged to report it.

Complaints should be filed as soon as possible after an incident to ensure a complete investigation and prompt resolution. Reports of incidents that exceed two years will not be considered timely. Applicable federal and state agencies have deadlines for filing complaints that are distinct from Equity and Access Services. See additional information regarding filing with a federal or state agency.

To encourage both reporting and cooperation in investigations, the university will not pursue disciplinary action based on disclosure of personal consumption of drugs or alcohol where such disclosures are made in connection with a good faith report of prohibited conduct or an individual’s cooperation in an investigation under this policy.

You do not need to file a complaint to receive remedial and protective measures. To request any remedial or protective measures, contact us. The university will make reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of participants while balancing the need to gather information to assess the report and to take steps to eliminate prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.

Privacy means that information related to a report of prohibited conduct will be shared with a limited circle of university employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the assessment, investigation and resolution of the report.

All employees who are involved in the university’s Title IX response receive specific training and guidance about safeguarding private information.

Resolution options

During the resolution process, participating parties will have an equal opportunity to:

  • be heard
  • submit information and corroborating evidence
  • identify witnesses who may have relevant information
  • submit questions they believe should be directed by the investigator to each other or to any witness
  • meet separately with the investigator
  • be accompanied by an adviser of their choosing

Anyone participating in the administrative process is required to:

  • preserve evidence
  • provide truthful information
  • act in good faith
  • respect any interim measures
  • ensure their actions could not be reasonably interpreted as retaliation

The following procedures are applicable to any employees, students or third parties who are complainants or respondents under these procedures.

Alternative resolution procedures

The complainant may request alternative resolution procedures in place of an investigation and formal resolution. The university, however, has the discretion to determine whether the nature of the reported conduct is appropriate for alternative resolution. Forms of alternative resolution, such as mediation, are not available in cases involving sexual assault.

Participation in alternative resolution is voluntary. Pursuing alternative resolution does not preclude later use of formal resolution if the alternative resolution fails to achieve a resolution acceptable to the parties and the university, or if a respondent fails to comply with the terms of an agreement.

If an alternative resolution agreement is reached, the terms of the agreement will be implemented and the matter will be considered resolved and closed. If an agreement is not reached, or if a respondent fails to comply with the terms of the alternative resolution, the complainant or the Title IX Coordinator may decide to proceed to an investigation and formal resolution.

Formal resolution procedures

An investigation under formal resolution procedures is a neutral fact-gathering process. The respondent is presumed to be not responsible; this presumption may be overcome only when a preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that there is sufficient evidence that the respondent violated university policy.

Equity and Access Services takes the following investigation steps as outlined in the policy:

  • Notification in writing to the parties of the commencement of an investigation
  • Interviews of the parties and witnesses
  • Gathering of relevant information
  • Review of draft investigation report by the parties
  • Notification in writing to the parties of the completion and availability of the final report
  • Opportunity to accept or contest the findings

If the complainant accepts a recommended finding(s) of no responsibility, the investigation will be closed. If the complainant contests one or more of the recommended finding(s), the matter will be submitted to a review panel.

If the respondent accepts a recommended finding(s) of responsibility, the matter will be submitted to the review panel solely on the issue of sanction. If the respondent contests one or more of the recommended finding(s), the matter will be submitted to the review panel for further review.

Review panel hearing

A standing pool of trained faculty and staff serve as review panel members. Both the complainant and the respondent have a right to be present at the hearing either in person or through an alternative method. Neither party is required to participate in the hearing for the hearing to proceed. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to be accompanied at the hearing by an adviser of their choosing.

Case resolution

For case resolution, the members of the review panel will determine by majority vote whether the preponderance of the evidence standard was appropriately applied by the investigator and whether there is sufficient evidence to support the investigator’s recommended finding(s).

If the review panel finds either substantial doubt about the thoroughness, fairness, and/or impartiality of the investigation or insufficient evidence to support the investigator’s recommended finding, it will remand the matter for further investigation or make alternative finding(s).

If the review panel both finds no cause for substantial doubt about the thoroughness, fairness, and/or impartiality of the investigation and affirms a recommended finding of no responsibility, the matter will be considered resolved and the formal resolution process will be closed. Appropriate remedial measures may, however, remain in effect to support the complainant.

Sanctions - student respondents

In a case with a student respondent, if the review panel finds both no cause for substantial doubt about the thoroughness, fairness, and/or impartiality of the investigation and affirms that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of responsibility by a preponderance of the evidence, it will recommend by majority vote appropriate sanction(s) for the prohibited conduct. The ultimate determination and imposition of sanctions is made by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs based on recommendations made by the review panel.

Sanctions may include any of the following, individually or in combination:

  • Expulsion
  • Campus ban
  • Admission revocation
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Suspension held in abeyance
  • Suspension
  • Loss of university-related privileges
  • Termination or suspension of university employment
  • Restitution
  • Reprimand
  • Admonition

The decision of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs is final without further recourse or appeal by either party.

Sanctions - employee respondents

In a case with an employee respondent, if the review panel finds both no cause for substantial doubt about the thoroughness, fairness, and/or impartiality of the investigation and affirms that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of responsibility by a preponderance of the evidence, it will recommend a sanction by majority vote.

The scope of possible sanctions will be dependent upon the employee disciplinary procedures applicable to the respondent, but will include:

  • Informal and formal counseling
  • Progressive disciplinary action
  • No-contact directive
  • Transfer of position
  • Removal of administrative appointment
  • Demotion
  • Suspension
  • Termination of employment

The hearing chair will notify in writing the complainant, the respondent, the Title IX coordinator, and the appropriate senior management executive (vice president) in the respondent’s chain of command of the review panel’s determination of responsibility and the recommended sanction.

The appropriate management executive will:

  • Review all the foregoing information
  • Affirm or reject the review panel’s decision on the finding of responsibility under the policy
  • Determine sanction in accordance with the disciplinary procedures appropriate for the employee

The decision outlined in this final outcome letter is final under this policy and is not subject to further university appeal or grievance.

Related policies

Complainants and respondents should familiarize themselves with these related policies:

  • Duty to Report and Protection from Retaliation
    The expectation to report actual or suspected misconduct is absolute. Knowingly making a false report, or reporting with malice or reckless disregard for the truth is prohibited.
  • Employee-Student Consensual Relationships
    Employees, whether faculty or staff, shall not engage in consensual relations with students when the employee has a “position of authority” with respect to the student in such matters as teaching or otherwise evaluating, supervising, or advising a student as part of a school program or employment situation.
  • Student Code of Conduct
    Students are required to engage in responsible social conduct that reflects credit upon the University community and to model good citizenship in any community
  • Threat Assessment and Violence Prevention
    VCU is committed to using its best efforts to provide faculty, staff and students with an environment that is safe, secure and free from threats, intimidation and violence