Response Procedures

Upon receipt of a report, PLU will take immediate steps to ensure that services have been offered to the Impacted Parties and Supportive Measures have been taken for the safety and security of the Impacted Parties and the PLU community. PLU will generally proceed as described below. Exceptions to this policy will be documented for individuals involved in a report or grievance process.

A. Supportive Measures

  1. Upon receipt of a report, the Title IX Coordinator will promptly contact the Impacted Part(ies) to offer supportive measures, and inform them of or confirm receipt of a report.
  2. The Title IX Coordinator will explain to the Impacted Part(ies) the process for filing a Formal Complaint, and assess which procedural path the Prohibited Conduct will be processed.
  3. The Title IX Coordinator will inform the Impacted Part(ies) of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a Formal Complaint.

Supportive Measures may include, but not limited to, counseling services, extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments, modifications of employment or class schedules, campus escort services, mutual restrictions on contact between the parties, changes in work or housing locations, leaves of absence, increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus, and other similar measures.

The University reserves the right to take any measures it believes, in its sole discretion, are in the best interests of the parties and the University community.

B. Initial Title IX Assessment

Reports of Prohibited Conduct will not, on their own, trigger a Title IX grievance process. A Formal Complaint is required to be submitted to Pacific Lutheran University to begin a formal grievance process under this policy and as outlined in the U.S. Department of Education Title IX Regulations. As defined by Title IX Regulations, Pacific Lutheran University is obligated to dismiss Formal Complaints that fail to meet the definitions below or are outside of its prescribed jurisdiction, which is limited to: an individual who is participating in or attempting to participate in an education program or activity of Pacific Lutheran University in the United States. “Educational program or activity” includes locations, events, or circumstances over which Pacific Lutheran University exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the Prohibited Conduct occurs, and also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by Pacific Lutheran University. Prohibited Conduct that does not meet the definition or jurisdiction of sexual misconduct as defined by Title IX Regulations, or takes place in locations outside the U. S. may be, at the discretion of PLU, processed through the PLU Student Code of Conduct.

Consistent with the Title IX regulations issued on May 6, 2020, for a formal investigation to proceed through PLU’s Title IX Formal Process, it must meet several criteria. The Prohibited Conduct must be:

  • Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: This exists when there are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; and submission to or rejection of such conduct results in adverse educational or employment action; or
  • Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity; or
  • “Sexual assault” as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30). (Refer to Section XII for formal definitions.)

Nothing in this part precludes Pacific Lutheran University from removing a respondent from an educational program or activity on an emergency basis, pending an individualized safety and risk assessment and determination that an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations of sexual harassment justifies removal. In these situations, Pacific Lutheran University will provide the respondent with notice and an opportunity to appeal the decision immediately following the removal. This provision may not be construed to modify any rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

If a report is formally dismissed by the Title IX Coordinator or their designee, the report will be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for evaluation if the reported behavior is otherwise a violation of the Pacific Lutheran University’s Student Code of Conduct. The Impacted Party(ies) will be notified of the dismissal in writing.

The dismissal of a report does not preclude an Impacted Party from utilizing any of the supportive measures outlined in this policy. 

C. Formal Complaint

If the Formal Complaint is within a) jurisdiction of Pacific Lutheran University and b) meets the definition of Prohibited Conduct, PLU is obligated to respond to the Formal Complaint. When the Title IX or Student Code of Conduct grievance process is initiated on the basis of a Formal Complaint, the individual alleged to have engaged in the Prohibited Conduct and who must respond to the allegations is designated as the Respondent. The impacted party(ies) who submit the formal complaint will be designated as the Complainant(s). Prior to and during this process, Pacific Lutheran University presumes that the Respondent is not responsible for the alleged conduct and does not make a determination regarding responsibility until the conclusion of the process. 

D. Procedures

There are different procedures used to respond to Prohibited Conduct. Title IX procedures are defined by the Department of Education’s 2020 Final Rule Title IX legislation. The Title IX Coordinator will assess each reported incident and will coordinate the appropriate response pathway.  Pathways available are defined by who the Complainant and Respondent are, and where the misconduct took place. Partners in responding to Prohibited Conduct are, but not limited to: Office of Human Resources, University Dispute Resolution Committee, and the Dean of Students Office. Any conduct that does not meet the criteria for or jurisdiction of Title IX will be processed by PLU’s Student Code of Conduct Procedures or through policies and procedures listed in relevant Personnel, Faculty, or Staff Handbooks.  

Title IX Prohibited Conduct Formal Process

PLU’s Student Code of Conduct Procedures

E. Coordination with Concurrent Legal Proceedings:

Impacted parties may choose to engage in criminal prosecution procedures and/or civil litigation in connection with the same behavior that forms the basis of a Prohibited Conduct report under this policy. In such cases, the University will cooperate and assist with coordination with local law enforcement and may, if requested and appropriate, share information with those agencies. The University will fulfill its legal and ethical obligation to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate possible violations of this policy, even if there are external processes or procedures pending in connection with that same report of Prohibited Conduct.

Standards for criminal investigations are different than the standards for a violation of this policy, and therefore the University will not base its decisions under this policy solely on law enforcement reports and/or action. The University will take every possible step to coordinate with law enforcement and also will take steps to resolve the Formal Complaint within the University process in a timely manner.

F. Reporting Prohibited Conduct to Law Enforcement and for Statistical Disclosure

Community members who believe any Prohibited Conduct they have experienced may be criminal in nature will receive support and assistance in contacting law enforcement and/or reporting the conduct for Statistical Disclosure under the Clery Act. PLU encourages accurate and prompt reporting of all crimes to Campus Safety and the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

As a part of its prevention and awareness programs for incoming students and new employees, and its ongoing prevention and awareness programs for continuing students and employees, PLU includes the definitions of sexual misconduct, the definition of consent in reference to sexual activity, and the definitions of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking that are used by the criminal laws in applicable jurisdictions. The criminal law definitions used in Washington State are described in Appendix A for the sake of information only. However, PLU utilizes its own definitions of these prohibited behaviors for purposes of this policy that are consistent with the Clery Act, as amended effective 2014 (and expands upon the Clery Act as noted above), and determines responsibility for violations of PLU policy through its own procedures and standards of proof.