Informal Resolution Process (34 CFR §106.45(b)(9))
Informal resolution is a voluntary process that parties can mutually agree to participate in rather than proceeding with an administrative hearing. Where informal resolution is appropriate, and properly invoked, it can further the biblical principle of pursuing reconciliation. Informal Resolutions under Title IX can only occur after a formal complaint is filed. Abuse of the informal resolution process, for example for the purposes of delay, can subject the offending party to the university Accountability process.
Subject to approval by the Title IX coordinator, the informal resolution process is available in matters involving a student complainant and a student respondent, a faculty/staff complainant and a student respondent, and a faculty/staff complainant and a faculty/staff respondent; the informal resolution process is not available in matters involving a student complainant and a faculty/staff respondent. The purpose of the Informal Resolution process is to eliminate the conduct which has been reported by the complainant (and prevent its recurrence), and place both individuals in a position to pursue their academic, working, and non-academic interests in a safe, respectful, and productive educational and working environment.
Under this process, there will be no disciplinary action taken against a respondent. The informal resolution will be documented in each party’s disciplinary file, as appropriate.
Initiation of the Informal Resolution Process
The informal resolution process (see appendix E) may be initiated at any time prior to issuing a final determination regarding responsibility. The Title IX coordinator will consider whether the informal resolution process is appropriate in the particular matter. In making this determination, the Title IX coordinator will consider the following factors:
- The disciplinary record (or past conduct) of the respondent relating to sexual misconduct, physical violence, failure to comply with a no-contact order, and/or other relevant conduct
- The nature of the alleged conduct, whether allegations involve multiple victims and/or a pattern of conduct, or other evidence-informed factors indicative of increased risk to campus safety
- Whether proceeding with the informal resolution process is in accordance with the principles and objectives of the university’s Title IX Sexual Harassment policy/university Policy, as determined by the Title IX coordinator; and/or
- Whether proceeding with the informal resolution process in matters involving faculty and staff members is in accordance with university employment practices.
If the Title IX coordinator determines that a case is not appropriate for the informal resolution process, the Title IX coordinator will inform parties in writing that the informal resolution process is unavailable.
If the formal grievance process has already begun, either party may seek to initiate the informal resolution process up until five business days prior to the hearing. If both parties agree to participate in the informal resolution process and Title IX coordinator approves of the informal resolution process, the formal grievance process will be adjourned while the informal resolution process is pending; if an agreement is not reached, the formal grievance process will be resumed.
Upon initiation of the informal resolution process, the Title IX coordinator will refer the matter to a trained informal resolution facilitator. The facilitator will consult (separately) with each party in an effort to reach a resolution that best meets the interests and needs of the parties. Unless they mutually choose to do so as part of an agreement, the parties will not meet together in person as part of the process.
At any time prior to agreeing to an informal resolution, any party has the right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the process with respect to the formal complaint.
Potential Outcomes of the Informal Resolution Process
Depending on the nature and circumstances of the particular situation, parties may agree to outcomes such as:
- A continued no-contact order for remainder of time as APU community member
- Apply a no-contact order, placing the burden on the respondent to limit the respondent’s physical proximity to the complainant
- Restrictions on the respondent from participation in particular organizations or events
- Participation in a broad-based educational programming or training
- Changes to on-campus housing, subject to availability
- Participation by the respondent in the university-provided alcohol education program designed to reduce the harmful problems associated with alcohol misuse
- Provision to the respondent of an “impact statement” written by the complainant (describing the impact(s) that the respondent’s conduct had on the complainant);
- Mediation through supported direct or indirect interaction with the parties through the Title IX coordinator
- Other measures deemed appropriate by the Title IX coordinator.
Failure to Comply with the Informal Resolution Agreement
Failure to comply with the signed agreement may result in disciplinary action for either party, consistent with university policy disciplinary procedures described in the Undergraduate Community Expectations as well as the Graduate and Professional Students Community Expectations.