For a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Sexual Misconduct Policy, see here.
Duke University is committed to encouraging and sustaining a learning and living community that is free from harassment, violence, and prohibited discrimination. In that regard and consistent with federal law (e.g., Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Act), Duke has developed this comprehensive Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, applicable to all students (undergraduate, graduate, and professional, or any student enrolled in any Duke program). Further, Duke conducts extensive education and awareness programs with the goal of preventing and discouraging sexual/gender violence and other forms of sexual misconduct.
As discussed more fully below, this Student Sexual Misconduct Policy prohibits all forms of sex/gender-based harassment, sexual/gender violence, sexual exploitation, relationship violence (domestic violence and dating violence), and stalking. Collectively, these terms are referred to in this policy as “Sexual Misconduct.” They are defined below under “Prohibited Conduct.” (Note that non-sex/gender-based harassment is also a violation of university policy, as described under the university’s Harassment Policy, available at bit.ly/dukeharassment.)
The Student Sexual Misconduct Policy serves three principal purposes. First, it it establishes conduct standards—namely, prohibited sexual misconduct—for all Duke students. Note that a violation of this policy may also constitute a crime, which can be independently reported to Duke Police, Durham Police, or other appropriate law enforcement agency.
Second, the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy outlines reporting, investigation, and complaint resolution procedures in cases where it is alleged that a Duke student has engaged in sexual misconduct. This policy refers to the individual who is the alleged victim of the behavior(s) in question as the “complainant” and the student alleged to have committed the violation of the policy as the “respondent.” Both the complainant and the respondent will be treated fairly and with respect throughout the process. Respondents are entitled to a presumption that there is not a violation of this policy throughout the disciplinary process unless and until they are found responsible for a violation of this policy.
In the paragraphs that follow, the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy specifies to whom violations of this policy should be reported, the availability of confidential reporting, administrative actions available to the complainant and the respondent, how the university will investigate and resolve alleged violations, possible sanctions, and appeals.
The Office of Student Conduct is primarily responsible for implementing these procedures; the Office for Institutional Equity assists by investigating reports that the Office of Student Conduct refers to it. Anyone with concerns about a possible violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy by a student is encouraged to contact the Office of Student Conduct at 919-684-6938, email@example.com, or via studentaffairs.duke.edu/conduct/report-incident.
Third, the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy describes resources available on campus and in the community to assist students in dealing with the impact of sexual misconduct, whether it happened recently or in the past. Such services include, for example, the Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention (GVPI) in the Women’s Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), DukeReach, Duke Police (for possible criminal conduct), and administrative actions arranged or issued by the Office of Student Conduct, the Office for Institutional Equity, GVPI, and/or the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee). In addition, resources are available to respondents during and, in some cases, after the complaint process.
Dr. Benjamin D. Reese (919-684-8222, firstname.lastname@example.org), Vice President of the Office for Institutional Equity (oie.duke.edu), is the individual responsible for the coordination and administration of Duke’s nondiscrimination and harassment policies generally. Howard Kallem (919-684-1437, email@example.com), also in the Office for Institutional Equity, is the Director of Title IX Compliance (Title IX Coordinator). In this role, Mr. Kallem is responsible for overseeing the university’s Title IX compliance, including this policy and its complaint-resolution procedures; as such, Mr. Kallem receives comments/concerns from students about this policy’s implementation. The Office for Institutional Equity is located in Smith Warehouse, 114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Bay 8, Durham, North Carolina, 27708.
A student may discuss an alleged violation of this policy without the information being reported to the Office of Student Conduct with those who serve in a professional role in which communication is privileged under North Carolina law and to those whom the university has designated as a confidential resource consistent with Title IX. Those persons include:
- Student Health staff
- Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) staff
- Women’s Center staff
- Clergy who are acting as such in their professional role at Duke
Students should be aware that, with the exception of these confidential resources, all employees who become aware of conduct that might fall under this policy are expected to notify the Office of Student Conduct with the names of the parties involved and the details of the report. Students who serve in an ongoing peer-advising role (such as Resident Assistants) are also expected to file such reports with the Office of Student Conduct.
Information for Complainants
Complainants will be treated with respect before, during, and after the disciplinary process. During an initial meeting, the Office of Student Conduct will inform the complainant of the university’s disciplinary process and possible outcomes. The Office of Student Conduct will communicate substantive and, when warranted, procedural developments regarding an investigation. The alleged conduct may also be criminal in nature, and complainants have the right to report—or not to report—the conduct to Duke Police, Durham Police, or other appropriate law enforcement agency. A criminal report does not preclude university disciplinary action.
Complainants are strongly encouraged to seek counseling and support available through resources such as Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention (GVPI) in the Women’s Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Durham Crisis Response Center (DCRC). For more information on these resources, please see “Support Services and Options for Complainants.”
Regardless of whether a complainant pursues a criminal complaint and/or the university’s complaint process through this policy, the university may investigate the incident(s) in question and will take appropriate responsive action to ensure that the educational environment is free of harassment and to prevent the recurrence of a hostile environment—and, if appropriate, remedy the effects of the alleged harassment on the complainant. As discussed later in the policy, remedies available to a complainant may include, but are not limited to: reasonable academic accommodations, on-campus housing reassignment, a “no contact” directive between the respondent and the complainant, and disciplinary action against the respondent as determined through the disciplinary process outlined in this policy. Mediation is not appropriate for any allegation of sexual violence.
A complainant may request or the university may issue administrative actions and supports such as a “no contact” directive and changes to academic and living situations through the Office of Student Conduct, GVPI in the Women’s Center, and/or the Title IX Coordinator regardless of whether a complainant files a formal report. A complainant will be notified as to what changes are reasonably available and/or are being implemented.
Information for Respondents
Respondents will be treated with respect before, during, and after the disciplinary process. During an initial meeting, the Office of Student Conduct will inform the respondent of the university’s disciplinary process and possible outcomes. The Office of Student Conduct will communicate substantive and, when warranted, procedural developments regarding an investigation. Note that alleged behavior may also be criminal in nature, and a respondent may be subject to a criminal investigation by the appropriate law enforcement agency at the same time as an investigation by the university under this policy; the respondent may wish to consult with a criminal lawyer as the Office of Student Conduct does not provide advice as to the criminal process. Respondents are entitled to a presumption that there is not a violation of this policy throughout the disciplinary process unless and until they are found responsible for a violation of this policy.
Respondents have the right to (and are strongly encouraged to seek) counseling and support available through resources such as CAPS, DukeReach, or other university and local resources.
A respondent may request, or the Office of Student Conduct and/or the Title IX Coordinator may change, academic and living situations and will be notified as to what changes are reasonably available and/or are being implemented.
This Student Sexual Misconduct Policy applies to any instance in which any Duke student (undergraduate, graduate, professional, or any student enrolled in any Duke program) is alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct against anyone (e.g., a student, employee, or third party such as a visiting athlete, guest speaker, or contractor), regardless of the complainant’s or respondent’s sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.1 The university will respond to any complaint of sexual misconduct, including conduct alleged to have occurred during breaks, leaves of absence, or periods of dismissal, whether on or off campus. The disciplinary process is available as an option while a respondent remains a student at Duke. With the agreement of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the dean of the respondent’s college or school, disciplinary action may be taken against a student who has graduated and is alleged to have committed a violation while a student.
III. Prohibited Conduct
Rule. Duke University prohibits all forms of sex/gender-based harassment, sexual/gender violence, sexual exploitation, relationship violence (domestic violence and dating violence), and stalking.
Sex/Gender-Based Harassment. Sex- or gender-based harassment may take two forms:
One form of harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on sex that, because of its severity, persistence, and/or pervasiveness, creates a hostile environment by interfering significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affecting an individual’s living conditions.
The other form of harassment is a student’s use of a position of authority (e.g., as a TA, RA, team captain, or officer in a fraternity or sorority) to engage in unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; or
- submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for decisions affecting an individual’s education or employment.
The conduct alleged to constitute harassment under this policy must be sufficiently severe, persistent, and/or pervasive to actually interfere with the complainant’s work, education, or living conditions to a significant degree. The severity, persistence, and/or pervasiveness of the alleged conduct will also be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person similarly situated to the complainant and in consideration of the context of the behavior.
Harassment must be distinguished from behavior that, even though unpleasant or disconcerting, is appropriate to the carrying out of certain instructional, advisory, or supervisory responsibilities or to legitimate academic and related discussions.
|Examples of conduct that may constitute sex/gender-based harassment include:
Harassment may be verbal, nonverbal, or physical and the above list is not exhaustive, but intended only to provide general examples of possible prohibited conduct.
Sexual Violence. Sexual violence is a particularly severe form of harassment defined as any physical act of a sexual nature based on sex and perpetrated against an individual without consent or when an individual is unable to freely give consent. See Section IV of this policy for more information about consent.
Physical acts of a sexual nature include, but are not limited to, touching or attempted touching of an unwilling person’s breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, groin, or genitalia, either directly or indirectly; and/or sexual penetration (however slight) of another person’s oral, anal, or genital opening with any body part or object.
Sexual Exploitation. Sexual exploitation includes taking sexual advantage of another without consent for one’s benefit or the benefit of another party.
Relationship Violence. Relationship violence is any act of violence or pattern of abusive behavior in an intimate relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another partner. Relationship violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Relationship violence includes domestic violence and dating violence (adapted from the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, justice.gov/ovw/domestic-violence).
- Domestic violence is any act of violence or pattern of abusive behavior committed by a student against the student’s current or former spouse/cohabitant, person similarly situated under domestic or family violence law, or anyone else protected under domestic or family violence law.
- Dating violence is any act of violence or pattern of abusive behavior committed by a student who has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant. Whether there was such relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.
Sex/Gender-Based Stalking. Sex/gender-based stalking is a course of conduct (including cyberstalking) directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking by a student not based on sex or gender is addressed under the Stalking Policy.
Retaliation is prohibited under Title IX and this policy and is adjudicated under this policy and procedures. Retaliation is defined as words or acts taken in response to a good-faith reporting of sexual misconduct, or to an individual or group’s participation in Duke’s complaint process or the follow up to a Duke complaint. The policy’s prohibition against retaliation also protects individuals who oppose through words or actions what they reasonably believe to be sexual misconduct. Retaliation will be a violation of this policy when it is sufficiently serious (e.g., severe, persistent, and/or pervasive) to discourage a reasonable person from further such activity. The protection against retaliation applies to the parties and to all witnesses. All persons who believe they have been subjected to misconduct under this policy are encouraged and have the option to seek support, utilize available resources, and come forward with their concern or complaint.
|Fear of retaliation should never be an obstacle to reporting an incident of alleged sex/gender-based harassment, sexual/gender violence, sexual exploitation, relationship violence, or stalking.|
Consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity freely given by clear actions and/or words.
|Consent is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties. Relying solely upon nonverbal communication can lead to miscommunication. It is important not to make assumptions; if confusion or ambiguity on the issue of consent arises anytime during a sexual interaction, it is essential that each participant stops and clarifies, verbally, willingness to continue.|
Students should understand that consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance alone. Furthermore, a current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.
Conduct is “without consent” if no clear consent, verbal and/or nonverbal, is given. An individual is “unable to freely give consent” when the individual is incapacitated (arising, for example, from the use of alcohol or other drugs or when the individual is passed out, asleep, unconscious, or mentally or physically impaired). An individual is also unable to freely give consent when the individual is coerced into sexual activity, such as, for example, through the use of physical force, threat of physical or emotional harm, undue pressure, isolation, or confinement.
The perspective of a reasonable person will be the basis for determining whether a respondent knew, or reasonably should have known, whether a complainant was able to freely give consent and whether consent was given. Additionally, being intoxicated or incapacitated does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent and will not be an excuse for sexual misconduct.
The Impact of Alcohol or Other DrugsThe use of alcohol or other drugs can impair effective communication about sexual activity and can hinder one’s ability to pick up on danger cues and resist an assault. Alcohol or other drugs can also lower inhibitions and create an atmosphere of confusion over whether consent is freely and effectively given.
V. Complaint Resolution
A flowchart illustrating the complaint resolution process is available at the link below:
Once a report is received, an investigation and possible immediate and/or interim measures may occur, including adjudication through the disciplinary process described below, administrative actions (e.g., a “no contact” directive, trespass from campus, interim suspension), reasonable academic or housing modifications, or other measures designed to reasonably minimize the possible recurrence of, and mitigate the effects of, the alleged conduct.
|The Office of Student Conduct handles an alleged violation of this policy when the person alleged to have committed a violation is a student. (The Office for Institutional Equity, Smith Warehouse, Bay 8, 919-684-8222, receives reports in which the person alleged to have committed a violation is an employee or third party.) Reports involving an alleged student respondent may be filed at any time while the respondent remains a student at Duke; prompt reporting can aid an investigation.|
A complainant may request that the Office of Student Conduct not reveal the complainant’s identity in responding to a report. (In some situations, it may be possible to proceed fully with an investigation without disclosing the name of the complainant.) A complainant may also request that the university take limited or no action in response to a report.
A request to preserve the confidentiality of any party involved in a report or that no action be taken should be made to the Office of Student Conduct, 919-684-6938, firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff in the Office of Student Conduct will confer with the Title IX Coordinator about the request and inform the party of the extent to which confidentiality may be maintained. The university will attempt to preserve the confidentiality of the complainant and/or respect a request for limited or no action in response to a report except when, in the university’s judgment, doing so would jeopardize the safety of members of the university community (including the complainant) or where the university is required by law to disclose the information (such as in response to a legal process).
Immediate and/or Interim Measures
The Office of Student Conduct may issue administrative actions immediately and/or on an interim basis as deemed appropriate, including but not limited to restrictions on contact between the complainant, the respondent, and/or other involved parties; exclusion from areas of campus; and, removal or relocation from residential areas. The Office of Student Conduct adjudicates alleged violations of such through its policies and procedures. The Vice President for Student Affairs, or
designee, may impose an interim suspension.
The Office of Student Conduct seeks to resolve complaints under this policy within 60 business days from receipt of a report, excluding days classes are not in session (see additional information about Appeals, below, for additional time frames). An investigation typically takes 21 to 45 business days to complete. Generally, within 15 business days after completion of an investigation, an administrative or panel hearing, if applicable, is scheduled. During this time, staff in the Office of Student Conduct may seek clarifying information and/or meet with a complainant, respondent, investigator, or others.
Circumstances may require the university to extend this overall time frame or any individual time frame discussed in this policy. Examples of reasons why time frames may need to be extended include the complexity of the case, delays due to fall/spring/ summer/holiday breaks, inclement weather, and other extenuating circumstances. Exceptions to these time frames will be communicated to the complainant and respondent.
A complainant and a respondent have access to trained Disciplinary Advisors to guide them through the disciplinary process. Complainants and respondents may consult with anyone they wish (including an attorney) during any stage of this process. One advisor of the complainant’s/respondent’s choice (either the university-appointed Disciplinary Advisor or another advisor of their choice) may accompany the complainant/respondent to any meeting with Office of Student Conduct staff, the investigator, or to a hearing. The advisor’s role in any meeting or hearing is limited to quietly conferring with the complainant or respondent through written correspondence or whisper, and the advisor may not address any other participant or the hearing panel. An advisor may not also be a witness.
After it receives a report, the Office of Student Conduct typically meets with a complainant and respondent separately in order to review the disciplinary process and to hear an overview of each party’s account of the incident. Immediate, interim, and/or long-term measures may also be discussed. The Office of Student Conduct may use any information gleaned through this and/or subsequent meetings with the complainant/respondent in the disciplinary process.
If the Office of Student Conduct determines further investigation is warranted, it will refer the report to the Director of Title IX Compliance, who will assign the case to an investigator from the Office for Institutional Equity. The investigator interviews witnesses, collects additional information, and submits a written report of relevant information to the Office of Student Conduct. The Office of Student Conduct will review the report for completeness and relevance (as that term is defined in Section VI), and direct further investigation as necessary before the report is shared with the complainant and respondent.
The investigator’s final report will be shared with the complainant and respondent, who then have five business days to respond in writing to the report with any clarifications, witness statements, or other information. The complainant and respondent must also submit in writing by that time the names of any material witnesses the complainant/respondent wishes to testify (should the matter proceed to a hearing) and a summary of information each witness would provide through his/her testimony. (Character witnesses are not permitted.) Names of witnesses provided by the complainant/respondent will be shared with the other party. After the five-business-day deadline, the complainant and respondent may not provide any additional information for the hearing packet (defined below) and may not produce any additional material at the hearing, unless that information
was not reasonably available prior to the closing of the five-day window. The hearing panel or the Office of Student Conduct, as appropriate, determines whether to grant exceptions to this five-day deadline.
The Office of Student Conduct will determine what, if any, changes or additions are made to the investigator’s report based upon its review of the report and feedback as described above from the complainant and respondent.
The Office of Student Conduct will determine whether to proceed to a hearing based on its assessment of whether there is sufficient information to believe that a policy violation may have occurred. The Office of Student Conduct will convey this decision in writing to the complainant and respondent as applicable, who may ask that the Office of Student Conduct reconsider its decision.
VI. Hearing Procedures
When the Office of Student Conduct decides that a case should proceed to a hearing, the case may be resolved either through an administrative resolution or a hearing panel. Under both types of proceedings, the university will use a “preponderance of the evidence” (more likely than not) standard.
At the discretion of the Office of Student Conduct, and with the agreement of both the complainant and respondent, a report may be resolved through an administrative hearing. The parties will be notified (typically via email) of the specific violations of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy under consideration in advance of an administrative hearing. A designee of the Office of Student Conduct will review the information gathered during the investigation separately and in private with each party and give each party an opportunity to respond. The designee will determine if the respondent is responsible for the alleged policy violation(s), and, if so, issue (an) appropriate sanction(s). The parties will be notified in writing of the outcomes concurrently. If the respondent or complainant does not accept the administrative hearing resolution, either party may request by the stated
deadline (typically 72 hours after notification of the outcome) a hearing before a hearing panel, as described below. If such a request is made, the Office of Student Conduct will then proceed in scheduling a hearing panel. The proposed outcome from the administrative hearing will not be disclosed to the hearing panel unless the complainant or respondent shares such information.
If the Office of Student Conduct decides the case should be resolved through a hearing panel, the Office of Student Conduct will appoint a specially trained three-person hearing panel (typically including two faculty or staff members and one student and, when possible, at least one representative of the complainant’s and respondent’s school[s]) to resolve a complaint under
this policy. A finding of responsibility must be based on a unanimous vote. Sanctions of suspension or expulsion must also be supported by a unanimous vote. A majority vote is required for all other sanctions.
The following procedures apply to a complaint that proceeds to a hearing panel:
- Notice. Both the complainant and the respondent will be notified at least 120 hours in advance of the date and time of the hearing and the names of the hearing panelists.
- Hearing Packet. In advance of the hearing, the Office of Student Conduct finalizes a packet with information it deems relevant to the case to be shared with the hearing panel. The hearing packet typically includes the investigator’s report (if applicable). The Office of Student Conduct will share a copy of that packet with both the complainant and the respondent at least 120 hours in advance of the hearing.
- Conflict of Interest. A complainant and/or respondent may challenge the participation of a panelist because of perceived conflict of interest, bias, or prejudice. Such challenges, including rationale, must be made to the Office of Student Conduct at least 72 hours prior to the commencement of the hearing. At its discretion, the Office of Student Conduct will determine whether such a conflict of interest exists and whether a panelist should be replaced. Postponement of a hearing may occur if a replacement panelist cannot be immediately identified.
- Witnesses. The hearing panel may, at its discretion, exclude witnesses or witness testimony the panel considers irrelevant or duplicative.
- Electronic Devices. A respondent, complainant, advisor, and/or witness may not bring electronic devices that capture or facilitate communication (e.g., computer, cell phone, audio/video recorder, etc.) into a hearing room, unless authorized by the hearing panel. The Office of Student Conduct will make an audio recording of the hearing to be kept on file for three years. Reasonable care will be taken to create a quality audio recording and minimize technical problems; however, technical problems that result in no recording or an inaudible one will not be a valid argument for appeal.
- Hearing Procedure. A hearing panel has general authority over the conduct of the hearing (e.g., it may set time frames for witness testimony and it may limit opening/closing statements or their length, etc.). The general course of procedure for a panel hearing is as follows: introductions; respondent’s statement accepting or denying responsibility; opening comments from the complainant; opening comments from the respondent; questions from the panel; testimony/questions of other material witnesses (if applicable); closing comments from the complainant; and, closing comments from the respondent. A complainant or respondent may not question each other or other witnesses directly, but may raise questions to be asked of that party through the hearing panel, which will determine whether to ask them. The hearing panel determines the relevancy of any information presented/submitted at the hearing and can exclude irrelevant information.
- Hearing Facilitator. A staff member from the Office of Student Conduct will serve as the non-voting hearing facilitator.
- In evaluating the relevance of information, the Office of Student Conduct, the investigator from the Office for Institutional Equity, or the hearing panel, as appropriate, considers, among other things, whether the information
bears on a fact at issue in the case, is more prejudicial than probative, or is duplicative.
- Polygraph examinations and/or their results are neither admissible nor considered in any part of the disciplinary process.
- A complainant’s or respondent’s prior or subsequent sexual activity is typically not relevant and will only be considered as evidence when the previous or subsequent behavior was substantially similar to the conduct at
issue or indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern.
- In evaluating the relevance of information, the Office of Student Conduct, the investigator from the Office for Institutional Equity, or the hearing panel, as appropriate, considers, among other things, whether the information
The complainant and respondent will receive verbal notification of the decision of a hearing panel no later than five business days after the hearing. Notification will be individually given to the respondent and complainant at approximately the same time. A written hearing report outlining the decision and rationale of the hearing panel will be delivered to the respondent and the complainant typically within 10 business days of the hearing.
Sanctions for a finding of responsibility include, but are not limited to, expulsion, suspension, disciplinary probation, recommended counseling, and/or other educational sanctions. The hearing body will determine the sanctions, first considering whether expulsion (permanent removal) from the university is appropriate. While expulsion is the starting point for consideration, the hearing body has discretion to decide that (a) different sanction(s) is (are) appropriate. Factors pertinent to the determination of what sanction applies include, but are not limited to, the nature of the conduct at issue, prior disciplinary history of the respondent (shared with a panel only upon a finding of responsibility for the allegation), previous university response to similar conduct, and university interests (e.g., in providing a safe environment for all).
Long-Term/Indefinite Measures and/or Remedies
The Director of Title IX Compliance and/or staff in the Office of Student Conduct will work with the complainant and respondent as applicable to identify and implement any appropriate/necessary long-term or permanent measures/remedies. The Director of Title IX Compliance and/or staff in the Office of Student Conduct will also identify appropriate remedies/measures to address any effects of substantiated conduct on the university community. Long-term remedies/measures may include extending or making permanent any interim protective measures or implementing additional measures. The Director of Title IX Compliance and/or staff in the Office of Student Conduct will consider whether there is a need for additional measures/remedies, which may include “no contact” directives and reassignment or removal from a class or on-campus living area.
A respondent or complainant may appeal the hearing panel’s decision by submitting a written appeal statement within five business days of the date the hearing report is sent to the parties. Appeals are limited to five pages (12-point font, 1-inch margins). The two grounds for appeal are:
- New information not reasonably available at the time of the hearing that is material to the hearing panel’s decision; and/or
- Procedural error(s) that materially impacted the hearing panel’s decision.
The appeal statement must identify the ground(s) for appeal. Note that an appeal is not a re-hearing of the case.
The composition of the Appellate Board for cases arising under this policy includes specially trained members of the university community appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The chair of the Appellate Board or the chair’s designee is responsible for selecting three-person panels from membership of the Appellate Board to consider appeals.
If, by majority vote, the appellate panel determines that a ground of appeal is substantiated, the panel will return the case to the Office of Student Conduct. Otherwise, the decision of the hearing panel stands. When a case is returned to the Office of Student Conduct, the Office of Student Conduct may decide to drop the case (e.g., based on insufficient information to believe that a policy violation may have occurred), send the case to the original hearing panel for reconsideration, send the case to a new hearing panel with the same or different charges, and/or (re)implement any aspect of the disciplinary process. A different decision (i.e., the decision of responsibility and/or sanctions) may subsequently result.
The Appellate Board’s role is limited to reviewing the hearing panel record, the appealing party’s (“appellant”) written appeal statement, any response to that statement by the other party (“appellee”), and information presented at a meeting of the Appellate Board, if convened.
The appellate panel will typically notify the parties of its decision regarding an appeal in writing within 20 business days from receipt of the appeal statement. If the decision will take longer, the chair will inform the parties.
The following procedures guide the Appellate Board process:
- Appeal statement. The written hearing report will include instructions for submitting an appeal. The chair may summarily deny an appeal if it is not based on one or both grounds of appeal.
- Composition of Panel. If the appeal is not summarily denied by the chair, the chair will convene a three-person panel and notify the appellant and appellee of the names of the panel members. When possible, the chair will select at least one Appellate Board member from the school community of the complainant and respondent. The appellant and/or appellee may challenge the participation of an appellate panelist because of perceived conflict of interest, bias, or prejudice. Such challenges, including rationale, must be submitted in writing to the chair no later than 24 hours after notification of the names of the appellate panel members. The chair will determine whether such a conflict of interest exists and whether a panelist should be replaced.
- Response to Appeal. The chair will provide written notice to the appellee that an appeal has been submitted and will give the appellee an opportunity to review the appeal statement. The appellee may submit a written response to the appeal (“response”). The response is due five business days from the date the chair provides written notice of the appeal to the appellee and is limited to five pages (12-point font, 1-inch margins). The chair will provide the appellant
an opportunity to review the response, though no additional opportunity to respond in writing will be provided to the appellant.
- Exceptions. The appellant and appellee may submit to the chair requests for exceptions to page limits or deadlines. Exceptions must be requested in advance of any deadline by sending an email to email@example.com, with justification for such request(s). If either party fails to meet a deadline or exceeds page limits without receiving an exception, the chair has the discretion to summarily reject an appeal or the appellate panel may disregard the response.
- Meetings. On its own or at the request of the appellant or appellee, the appellate panel may convene a meeting to give the parties an opportunity to amplify the reason(s) for the appeal or the response. If a meeting is convened, the appellate panel will invite both the appellant and appellee, who may bring an advisor of their choice to the meeting. The advisor’s role is limited to quietly conferring with their advisee, and may not address the appellate panel. In the event an appeal alleges a procedural error, the appellate panel may request that (a) staff member(s) in the Office of Student Conduct, the Office for Institutional Equity, and/or member(s) of the hearing panel attend the meeting to gather more information about the alleged procedural error.
- Written decision. The Appellate Board will provide written notification of the final decision to the appellant and appellee at approximately the same time.
Getting HelpAny student at Duke University who experiences sexual/gender violence—regardless of sex/gender—may
contact the Women’s Center at 919-684-3897 or email WCHelp@duke.edu. See “Support Services and Options for Complainants” below for additional information. In case of emergency or immediate threat, call 911 or Duke Police at 919-684-2444.
Support Services and Options for Complainants
A variety of support resources are available on campus and in the community to assist students in dealing with sexual misconduct, whether it happened recently or in the past. The following is a list of helpful resources. Additional resource information is available at studentaffairs.duke.edu/wc.
Information, advocacy, counseling, and emotional support. The Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention (GVPI) provides education, advocacy, and support for students who experience sexual and relationship violence, sex/gender-based harassment, and sex/gender-based stalking, as well as for their friends and families. Students of any gender can receive information, support, and accompaniment regarding medical treatment, reporting options, academic and residential accommodations, referrals, legal options, and trauma-focused therapy. Walk-in or scheduled appointments with the GVPI Coordinator are available during business hours by calling 919-684-3897, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the Women’s Center located at 001 Crowell Building (underneath the Coffeehouse) on East Campus. Emergency after-hours assistance is available via pager at 919-970-2108. All services are free and confidential and do not require making a formal report to the police or the university.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) also offers ongoing counseling services; call 919-660-1000 for an appointment. For 24-hour crisis information and referral, contact the GVPI information line at 919-681-6882, the Dean on-Call (pager number 919-970-4169), or the Durham Crisis Response Center at 919-403-6562 (for 24-hour hotline). All services are confidential and do not require making a formal report to the police or the university.
Medical concerns. Students should seek medical attention immediately to have the most options for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Even if physical injuries are not apparent, one may have injuries as a result of sexual assault that are not easily seen. For immediate and urgent medical concerns, students may go directly to the Emergency Department (ED) of Duke Medical Center (off Erwin Road near Trent Hall). Duke Police (911 or 919-684-2444 from non-campus phones) can provide transportation without students having to make a report. Services available at the Emergency Department are: medical care, evidence collection, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infection prevention.
Evidence can be collected anonymously. Evidence is best collected within 120 hours of the assault. Pursuing a criminal case is not necessary in order to have the evidence collected anonymously. A blind report can be filed that includes no identifying information other than a case number. A student may decide later whether to file a police report. Health insurance and the State of North Carolina may cover portions of the costs of medical care. The GVPI coordinator in the Women’s Center will help students address any concerns they have about covering the costs of the medical exam or other related expenses. Both the Emergency Department and Student Health have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who are specially trained to work with individuals who have been sexually assaulted.
For less immediate medical concerns, students may schedule an appointment at Student Health (919-681-WELL). The services available are: medical care, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infection prevention. The student health fee covers all services, except for a minimal charge for emergency contraception. Staff from GVPI can accompany students to the ED or Student Health.
Reporting to the police. Sexual misconduct may be criminal in nature, and a student may choose to file a report with law enforcement. Duke Police (911 or 919-684-2444 from non-campus phones) will respond to emergencies and non-emergencies to provide assistance by intervening in cases of assault, providing transportation to the Emergency Department, taking reports of an assault, and/or investigating and participating in legal or disciplinary action. They are responsible for notifying the community in a case of continuing danger, issuing a trespass order that requires an individual to stay away from campus or a particular area of campus when needed, and providing referrals and information including how to obtain a restraining order. Assaults that occur off campus may fall under the jurisdiction of the Durham Police Department or other law enforcement agency. Students may contact the Durham Police directly (911 off campus or 919-560-4427/560-4609) or the GVPI office or Duke Police can help facilitate reporting.
Examples of Sexual Misconduct
Angela and Aaron have been in an ongoing relationship for a year and a half and have engaged in consensual sexual intercourse. One night while becoming intimate, Angela stops and says she doesn’t feel like having sex that night. Aaron continues to touch her, saying that she got him excited and it wasn’t fair of her to lead him on like that. Again, Angela tells him she does not want to have sex, and then is silent. Aaron decides she has given in, and proceeds to have sexual intercourse with her.
This is a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Aaron had sexual intercourse with Angela against her will. The fact that Angela has freely consented to sexual intercourse with Aaron in the past does NOT mean he has her consent in this situation.
Erin is talking to several of her friends in the hallway at a crowded party. Ryan, a student she knows from chemistry class, comes up behind her and places his arms around her waist. She says hi to Ryan and continues her conversation. Ryan gradually moves his hands up to her breasts. She turns to him and tells him to stop, saying she doesn’t want to be touched in that way and that he should have more respect for her. He laughs, tells her she takes herself too seriously, and again begins to grope her.
This is a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Ryan touched Erin in a sexual way without her consent, and continued to do so after she told him to stop. This behavior is a form of sexual/gender violence.
Kristen and Myra have been intimate for a few weeks. One night, Myra calls Kristen and asks her to come over. When she arrives, Myra kisses Kristen passionately and leads her into the bedroom. They each express their excitement and desire to “hook up,” and are soon making out heavily in Myra’s bed. After a while, Kristen tries to engage in oral sex with Myra. Myra tells Kristen that she really likes her, but that she doesn’t feel ready for that. Kristen tells Myra she’s just being shy, and ignores her when she repeats that she doesn’t feel ready. Finally, Kristen threatens to reveal on the Internet that Myra is a lesbian. Because Myra has not yet come out to her friends and family, she becomes frightened and silent. Kristen proceeds with oral sex.
This is a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Because of Kristen's manipulative and threatening arguments, Myra was afraid and unable to freely give her consent. Kristen did not receive consent from Myra and has committed sexual/gender violence.
Liz and Tom have been together for six months. Liz often tells her friends stories of Tom’s sexual prowess, and decides to prove it to them. One night, she and Tom engage in consensual sexual intercourse. Without Tom’s knowledge, Liz sets up her digital camera to videotape them having sex. The next evening, she uploads the video to an online video-sharing site and discusses it with her friends online.
This is a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Tom’s consent to engage in sexual intercourse with Liz did NOT mean Liz had obtained his consent to videotape it. This is a form of sexual exploitation.
Andrew and Felix have been flirting with each other all night at a party. Around 12:30 a.m., Felix excuses himself to find a bathroom. Andrew notices Felix slurring his speech. Andrew wonders if Felix went to the bathroom to vomit. When Felix returns, the two begin flirting more heavily and move to a couch. As the conversation continues, the two become more relaxed and more physically affectionate. Andrew soon suggests they go back to his room, and Felix agrees. As they walk down the stairs, Andrew notices that Felix looks unstable and offers his arm for support and balance. When they get back to his room, Andrew leads Felix to the bed and they begin to become intimate. Felix becomes increasingly passive and appears disoriented. Andrew soon begins to have sexual intercourse with him. The next morning, Felix thinks they had sex but cannot piece together the events leading up to it.This is a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Felix was passive, and the Policy states that consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance. Moreover, Felix was clearly incapacitated by alcohol, and thus unable to freely consent to engage in sexual activity with Andrew. Although Andrew may not have known how much alcohol Felix had consumed, he saw indicators from which a reasonable person would conclude that Felix was incapacitated, and therefore unable to give consent. Andrew in no way had consent from Felix.
Denise is a graduate teaching assistant in Paul’s economics class. She notes that he has not been performing well on take-home assignments and exams. Both of them have come to a party, each with their own group of friends. Denise has consumed one can of beer, while Paul is rather intoxicated. Denise sees Paul and approaches him. She flirts with him, telling him that she can help him improve his grades if he will hook up with her. As Paul turns to walk away, Denise grabs his buttocks and squeezes them.
This is a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Denise, in a position of power over Paul as his teaching assistant, attempted to arrange a quid pro quo sexual relationship. Additionally, she did not seek consent from Paul to touch him, even if a reasonable person could conclude that Paul was not too intoxicated in order to provide consent.
A student had recently visited another country; on his return, he wrote an article for The Chronicle in which he used sexually explicit terms and examples to describe the treatment of women in that country. Other students are offended by the article.
This would not be a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that, because of its severity and/or persistence, interferes significantly with an individual’s work or education. The conduct is evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person and in consideration of the context of the behavior. It is not enough that other students are offended by the article for it to be a violation of the policy. Duke is committed to principles of academic freedom and conduct with a legitimate educational or related purpose will not be considered a policy violation.
Abby and Mike are graduate students working in the same lab. They have been dating for a year. Abby often calls Mike names and damages his belongings when she’s upset. She once poured a soda over his laptop after she saw him talking to another woman. Last week, she threw a cell phone at his head when he was late picking her up from work.
This would be a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. Relationship violence, including domestic and dating violence, includes physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that reasonable person in similar circumstances would find intimidating, frightening, terrorizing, or threatening.
Monica filed a complaint with the Office of Student Conduct alleging that, after she broke up with Marcus, Marcus has been stalking her. Marcus has told his friends about the complaint and several of them have launched a Twitter campaign threatening Monica and the witnesses supporting her claim if Monica doesn’t drop the complaint.
The conduct by Marcus’s friends would be a violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. The policy prohibits retaliation against anyone who files a complaint or participates in the investigation of a complaint.
1The Office for Institutional Equity (Smith Warehouse, Bay 8, 919-684-8222) receives reports and handles complaints alleging sexual misconduct by employees and all other non-Duke students under the Duke University Harassment Policy, oie.duke.edu/we-can-help/complaints-and-concerns/harassment. back to top