Campus / News / February 25, 2010

What is the Grievance Panel

In accordance with Title IX demands, which states that “sexually harassing conduct by an employee, by another student, or by a third party that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity, or to create a hostile or abusive educational environment,” Knox has the Grievance Panel.

The Grievance Panel is a resource set up for Knox students to utilize when they experience sexual misconduct on campus.

“The institution wants to provide a vehicle for students,” said Knox President Roger Taylor. “It’s fairly formal.”

Currently, the process functions like a legal hearing with statements from the accused, accuser and witnesses given before the panel of students and faculty who decide upon the case. This panel also assesses reprimand in the event that a guilty verdict is decided upon. If the accuser or accused is unhappy with the results, the student can appeal to Taylor.

While the Grievance Panel may function in ways that are similar to a legal trial, it is not bound to the same rules as the court of law. When deciding on a legal case, the accuser must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the misconduct occurred. For the Grievance Panel, such strong evidence is not necessary.

“Very often, the law can’t provide a reasonable remedy,” said Taylor.

He remembers a sexual misconduct case that occurred shortly after he became president of Knox in 2001 and thought “we should be going to the police.”

However, he said sometimes women do not want to go to the police. As a former lawyer, Taylor has dealt with cases of sexual assault. He said it is difficult to prove such assault happened, especially when it occurred privately between only two people and alcohol was involved.

“[The Grievance Panel] is as effective as any formal procedure can be in dealing with sexual misconduct,” said Taylor.

Though he does not usually deal with misconduct cases in their first stages, he has expressed to others to make sure that “female students understood that the police was an option.”

Over the past several years, a Grievance Panel Task Force has looked into the process and is currently finalizing recommendations for changes.

“They tried to simplify the process,” said Taylor. Additionally, the task force is recommending a pamphlet be printed detailing the Grievance Panel process.

Taylor said the recommendations would be considered and implemented soon. He also hopes to see more education about alcohol for both men and women on campus.

Grievance Panel Website

www.knox.edu/Offices-and-Services/Student-Development/Student-Handbook/Grievance-Procedures.html

Laura Miller


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