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What happens if I am involved in an investigation by MCHC?
After a complaint is filed, the MCHC chairperson determines if an investigation is in order. The purpose of the investigation is to gather information to determine if a policy violation took place and to make recommendations for the most appropriate resolution. The MCHC chairperson will meet with the person accused (i.e., the respondent) and the complainant (i.e., person who made the complainant) to review the MCHC process and to assign a College support person or advisor. Three MCHC members are assigned to investigate the complaint. MCHC will speak with the complainant, the respondent, and any possible witnesses. The length of the investigation can vary based on the number of people involved but will be expedited. Following a completed investigation, MCHC will make one of three recommendations: No action, informal resolution or formal resolution. Formal resolutions and potential sanctions are determined via a subsequent hearing with a designated College administrator.
Who gets notified about the investigation?
The following people are notified of an MCHC investigation:
- Three member investigative team of MCHC
- MCHC chairperson
- Witnesses who are asked to participate on behalf of the complainant or respondent
- An instructor or staff member who may be asked to make an accommodation as a result (i.e., housing)
- Assigned support person
Who does NOT get notified of an MCHC investigation:
- Parents, family members
- Faculty members (unless class modifications are necessary)
- Supervisors (unless responsibilities are impacted)
- General members of the Macalester community
- Police, unless a report is filed by the complainant
Both complainants and respondents are expected to observe confidentiality during the course of an investigation. Investigators may impose restrictions on participants for the purpose of maintaining the confidentiality of those involved in the investigation and to minimize the potential disruptiveness that the investigation may have on the College community. Anyone involved in an investigation that violates such restrictions will be subject to appropriate sanctions.
If the investigation results in a formal resolution, a copy of the allegation letter and outcome of the resolution, to include sanctions, would be part if the respondent’s permanent academic record. Only individuals with an educational need to know are informed of the outcome (i.e., the registrar who may need to adjust a course schedule). A student may be asked to report about participation in a conduct process by future employers, graduate schools or the government. The College would only release this information with written permission from the student.
What should I do if I am notified that I am involved in an MCHC investigation?
All investigations of MCHC should be taken seriously. Respondents and Complainants should:
- Meet with the Chair of MCHC to review the process
- Meet with assigned College support person
- Prepare a written statement of what occurred
- Respond promptly to requests for information and meetings
- Maintain confidentiality about the incident and instruct witnesses to do the same
- Refrain from contact with the complainant/respondent
- Seek support from a counselor, family, or trusted friends
How do I prepare a written statement for an MCHC investigation?
- Complainant (person filing complaint)
- Respondent (who the complaint is against)
- How do the participants know each other? What were the interactions and/or relationship prior to the incident (previous socializing, friend, classes, etc)?
Details of what happened
- When did it happen (date/time/details/if more than once, how often)
- Where did it happen (details/location)
- Physical actions/conduct (details of what happened)
- Was there anything that may have affected the recollection of the incident or anyone involved? Alcohol, drugs, other? If alcohol or drugs were involved: how much and over what period of time?
- Witnesses (Who may have witnessed any part of the conduct? This can be someone talked to immediately after the incident, was present in the room, or may have seen behavior before or after incident.)
- Who knows about this incident?
- Is there any documentation of the incident (emails, photos, videos, texts or other documents) that would be helpful?
Other information to include:
- How has this affected the respondent/complainant (physically, emotionally, educational/academically, missed classes, insomnia, living environment, etc.)?
- Has anything happened after the incident? If so, what? Has there been any contact or attempt at contact since then?
- What is the desired outcome of this complaint?
- Anything else that is important for investigators to know
Why am I assigned a support person?
Being involved in incidents of serious policy violation often stimulates many difficult emotions. MCHC participants report that it is difficult to keep track of all the information, policies, and processes when emotions are heightened. We assign a support person or advisor to assist participants in successfully navigating the MCHC process by providing information, clarification, advice, resources, and support. A support person who is informed about Macalester policies can help participants make thoughtful decisions. More can be learned about these advisors on the sexual assault and harassment websites. MCHC investigation participants can bring one support person of their choice to participate in all College meetings, however, someone who is familiar with College policy would prove most helpful.
What happens if a formal resolution is recommended?
Both the complainant and the respondent will be notified by a member of the MCHC investigative team of the outcome of the investigation. If a formal resolution is recommended, the MCHC chair will meet with the respondent and complainant separately to again review the rights and responsibilities pertaining to the process.
Complainant: The complainant may be contacted by the College administrator conducting the hearing if more information is needed. At no time in the process will the complainant be required to meet with the respondent.
Respondent: The respondent will have the opportunity to review the contents of the case file in a meeting with the MCHC chairperson. The opportunity to respond to the allegations takes place in a hearing meeting with a designated College administrator. A student member of the College conduct process will be present during the hearing meeting as a witness.
Again, it is recommended that all students involved bring a support person to these meetings. Both complainants and respondents will be notified in writing the outcome of the formal resolution.
Who is allowed to see a student’s academic record?
The detailed College Statement on Privacy and Disclosure of Student Information can be found in the Community Responsibilities section of the Student handbook. Guided by The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), information from a student’s educational record can only be disclosed to officials of the College who have a legitimate educational need to know the information in the record. The College will not release information to people outside of the College (including parents) without written consent of the student. The College destroys records after seven years.
Will the complainant and the respondent ever meet during the process?
Incidents of sexual assault or harassment are traumatic events for all parties involved. The resolution process is designed to minimize the occurrence of additional trauma to the complainant or respondent. While it is understandable that a respondent might want to speak directly to the complainant, this is only facilitated upon the request of the complainant and with the willingness of the respondent as part of the resolution process. At times the complainant requests to meet with the respondent. We recommend that this request be explored with a counselor and the goals of this meeting be discussed with the MCHC chair before it is requested of the respondent. The respondent has the right to deny the request to meet with the complainant. The MCHC chairperson or hearing officer can broker communication between the parties if mutually agreed upon as appropriate.