New Title IX Regulations
The Rensselaer community has always expected its members to treat one another with the utmost dignity and respect, and to conduct themselves with the highest level of integrity. Those expectations have not changed.
Although the regulations provide a new, more limited definition of sexual harassment under Title IX (conduct on campus or within Rensselaers control that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal access to educational programming), New York state law and Rensselaer policy still prohibit the same wider array of behaviors (unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature or based on sex that rises above the level of a petty slight or trivial inconvenience). Sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking are still strictly prohibited in all forms.
Furthermore, Rensselaer was already providing many of the fair process protections contained in the new regulations. Confidential resources are available to all. Appropriate supportive measures and accommodations, such as academic assistance or No Contact Orders, remain available to complainants and respondents. All complainants and respondents are still entitled to an adviser of their choice as well as an emotional support person to accompany them through the process. Informal resolutions may be offered in many cases, with the consent of both parties. The sexual, medical, and mental health history of the parties remains off-limits in almost all circumstances. Both complainants and respondents have the right to appeal many decisions, including the outcome of a hearing. And everyone has the right to be protected from retaliation for reporting or participating in the investigation or adjudication of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct.
The new Rensselaer Sexual Misconduct Policy will now apply one set of procedures to all members of the Rensselaer community, including faculty, staff, and students. All allegations that go through the formal grievance process will now result in a hearing, and as described below, complainants and respondents will have the opportunity, through their advisers, to ask questions of all witnesses. The parties will have an extended opportunity to review evidence collected in an investigation and to comment on that evidence or provide additional information before the hearing commences, and will have equal access to the report of the Hearing Board explaining the rationale for their determination.
Under the new federal Title IX regulations, universities are required to allow cross-examination of the complaining and responding parties, as well as any witnesses, during a live hearing. Cross-examination will be conducted by the parties’ advisers of choice, who may be, but are not required to be, attorneys. If a party does not have an adviser, Rensselaer will provide one upon request.
Cross-examination will never be conducted by the parties themselves. All cross-examination questions will be reviewed by the hearing panel chair for relevance and compliance with our rules of decorum before a complainant, respondent, or witness is instructed to answer.
Rensselaer continues to value the safety and dignity of every member of our community, and will ensure that cross-examination is conducted in a manner that reflects and protects those values. For more information, please consult the Sexual Misconduct Policy Appendix A or contact a Title IX Coordinator.
Rensselaer will continue to use the preponderance of evidence standard.
While the new definition of sexual harassment under Title IX includes only incidents that occur on campus or within an Institute program, Rensselaer’s Sexual Misconduct Policy continues to apply to all conduct by faculty, staff, and students in any physical location, whether on or off campus and whether or not it occurs within Rensselaer’s programming. If you have questions or would like additional clarification, please contact a Title IX Coordinator.
Institute Sexual Misconduct Policy & Process
Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct violate an individual’s fundamental rights and personal dignity. Rensselaer considers sexual harassment in all its forms to be a serious offense. Individuals who engage in sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion or termination. Employees, including faculty, contingent faculty, research professionals, staff, and members of the President’s Cabinet, are prohibited from having sexual or romantic relationships with students.
Yes. All employees of Rensselaer are required to immediately report any disclosures of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual or relationship violence they receive to one of the Institute’s Title IX Coordinators or to the Rensselaer Department of Public Safety. This includes student staff in the residence halls.
Only employees acting in the scope of their employment within the Student Health Center, Student Counseling Center, or the Office of Religious Affairs may keep such disclosures confidential.
Upon receiving a disclosure of sexual misconduct, please inform the reporting person that they have a right to:
- Make a report to university police or campus security, local law enforcement, and/or state police or choose not to report;
- Report the incident to your institution;
- Be protected by the institution from retaliation for reporting an incident; and
- Receive assistance and resources from your institution.
Rensselaer provides a fair and equitable process for responding to and resolving complaints. All respondents are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise, and faculty and staff who investigate and adjudicate complaints are neutral and unbiased professionals.
The Institute will make reasonable efforts to ensure that both parties are treated with respect, dignity, and sensitivity throughout the process, including as applicable:
- Providing the complainant and the respondent access to care and support services from the Institute and from the community.
- Facilitating privacy and protection under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Making all reasonable efforts informing both parties of the Institute’s policies and complaint procedures.
- Providing both parties the opportunity to challenge the appointment of the investigator if a conflict of interest is demonstrated.
- Allowing the complainant and respondent to choose to participate or decline to participate in the investigatory process related to a complaint, with the understanding that the process may continue without their involvement and that the investigator will determine an outcome with the information available.
- Notifying both parties, in writing, of the complaint resolution – including the outcome of any appeal.
- Notifying both parties of the option to have an adviser and/or a support person.
- Understanding that information collected through an investigation and/or complaint proceeding may be subpoenaed in a criminal and/or civil proceeding.
All respondents in sexual misconduct complaints are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise. Pursuant to New York State Education Law Article 129-B, Rensselaer will only place a notation on a student’s transcript under the following circumstances:
- If a student is found responsible for sexual violence or dating or domestic violence and is expelled from Rensselaer, a permanent notation shall be affixed to their transcript stating that they were expelled after a finding of responsibility for a Sexual Misconduct violation.
- If a student is found responsible for sexual violence or dating or domestic violence and is suspended by Rensselaer, a notation shall be affixed to their transcript stating that they were suspended after a finding of responsibility for a sexual misconduct violation. Students can petition the Vice President for Student Life in writing to remove this notation beginning one year after the expiration of the period of suspension.
- If a student withdraws from the Institute while a complaint of sexual violence or dating or domestic violence is pending against them, a permanent notation shall be affixed to their transcript stating that they withdrew with sexual misconduct charges pending.
Reporting an Incident
Anyone can make a report to Rensselaer. This includes any member of the Rensselaer community (faculty, staff, and students), as well as any other concerned individuals (e.g., friends or family of someone who may have experienced sexual misconduct).
The Institute will review all reports and make an immediate assessment of any risk of harm to an individual or the broader campus community and will take steps necessary to address those risks. For more information, please consult the Sexual Misconduct Policy (link) or contact a Title IX Coordinator.
If you believe a crime has been committed, you can report it to local law enforcement by dialing 911. Individuals who want to report a complaint of sexual assault on a New York college campus to the New York State Police may call the dedicated 24-hour hotline at (844) 845-7269.
Resources & Support
Call Rensselaer Public Safety at (518) 276-6611 or contact one of the Institute’s Title IX Coordinators. They can assist you with filing an incident report with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, seeking advice from an adviser, getting help with obtaining medical assistance, and contacting local law enforcement to file a criminal complaint, initiating legal proceedings in Family Court, applying for or understanding an Order of Protection, and getting information about other campus or community services.
Please note: filing an incident report with Public Safety does not require the filing of criminal charges AND IT DOES NOT constitute the filing of criminal charges.
An Order of Protection is issued by a local, state, or federal court and has the force of law. It is enforceable by police both on and off campus, and violations of an Order of Protection are a crime subjecting the violator to arrest and prosecution.
A No Contact Order is issued by Rensselaer to members of the Rensselaer community and does not carry the force of law. A violation of a No Contact Order will subject the violator to further disciplinary action by Rensselaer, up to and including permanent removal from Rensselaer.
If you have questions about Orders of Protection or No Contact Orders, or wish to request an Order of Protection from a court or a No Contact Order from Rensselaer, please contact the Department of Public Safety or a Title IX Coordinator.
A Title IX coordinator is an employee who has been designated by a college or university to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out responsibilities under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
They help educate the campus community about the rights and obligations that campus community members have under Title IX. They also respond to complaints of sex discrimination.
Confidential care and support services are available on and off campus to help you navigate through difficult situations, including crisis intervention, counseling, and medical attention. Support staff includes: Student Health Center (Medical/Counseling/Well-Being), Chaplain, and Religious Affairs.
In addition, we have a team of staff and faculty that you can turn to for help, including the Dean of Students and Public Safety, and your advisers, coaches, and Class Dean.
There are people both on and off campus who you can speak with, and receive support, in confidence. All staff in the Student Health Center, Student Counseling Center, and Office of Religious Affairs are confidential, as the Rensselaers EAP program for employees. Students can reach the Counselor on Call 24 hours a day by calling the Department of Public Safety and asking to speak with the counselor. There are also many confidential support resources in our community. A list of these resources can be found in the "Resources” section of this site.
All other faculty and staff at Rensselaer can offer privacy, but are not able to keep a disclosure of sexual discrimination, harassment, or misconduct confidential, and must report it to a Title IX Coordinator. This includes student staff in the residence halls.
Investigations, Hearings, and Informal Resolutions
No, not all complaints of sexual misconduct conclude in a hearing. A complainant may request that Rensselaer not pursue an investigation of an incident. Also, many complaints of Sexual Misconduct may be resolved informally.
However, all complaints that go through our formal grievance process do result in a live hearing before a panel. That panel will not include any students, will remain private, and may be conducted remotely.
Informal resolutions are a mediated outcome to a complaint of sexual misconduct that may not involve a formal investigation and/or hearing. Informal resolutions are only undertaken in cases in which the complainant, respondent, and Title IX coordinator agree informal resolution is appropriate.
No, participation is voluntary. However, your decision not to participate may affect our ability to prevent and respond to alleged violations of Title IX and sexual misconduct. For more information, please contact a Title IX Coordinator.
A student who is 17 years of age or older and matriculated at Rensselaer may provide written consent to a Title IX Coordinator allowing them to discuss an allegation or investigation of sexual misconduct with their parent or guardian. Students may also choose to have a parent or guardian participate in the sexual misconduct investigation and resolution process by serving as the student’s adviser of choice or emotional support person pursuant to the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
However, without written permission from the student, Rensselaer officials are not able to confirm the existence of a complaint or investigation of sexual misconduct to a parent or guardian, or to discuss the details of such a matter.