Student Affairs

Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Investigations: An Introduction

Duration: 1 hour
Facilitator: Heather Cowan
Price: $98.00

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April 2011 saw a flurry of activity on higher education campuses nationwide in reaction to OCR's Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) that provided guidance to all institutions that receive federal funding to treat student allegations of sexual assault as a form of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. This guidance caused a shift for most schools from complaint driven processes or a lack of a clear process to a civil rights investigatory process for all student allegations of sexual assault and other forms of gender discrimination. If you have recently been handed Title IX responsibilities or are struggling with how to conduct a Title IX compliant investigation, this webinar will show you the basic requirements as well as give you a model that you can take away and use as is or modify to suit your institution's needs. This is an introductory course for those new to Title IX requirements and investigations.


  • This is a foundation course for those just learning about Title IX and civil rights investigations, particularly those persons who have just recently had Title IX duties assigned to them.
  • This is for the student conduct professional who now has to add Sexual Misconduct investigator to the many hats they already wear.
  • This course will outline what OCR expects of a Title IX or sexual misconduct investigation.


  1. Brief intro to Title IX and the Dear Colleague Letter guidance from the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education
  2. Brief intro to Sexual Misconduct - includes short scenarios
  3. Differences in approach as suggested in the DCL for responding to allegations of sexual misconduct (investigatory component, standard of evidence, administration must act)
    1. The pros
    2. The cons
  4. Overview of conducting Title IX investigations
    1. Complainant and Respondent interviews
    2. Witness interviews
    3. Document review
    4. Analysis, finding and report writing
  5. Things to consider
    1. Confidentiality vs. anonymity
    2. When to get things signed (FERPA, HIPAA)
    3. Retaliation


  • List the main components of the Dear Colleague Letter
  • Define sexual misconduct and provide examples
  • Understand the expectations as outlined in the DCL in regards to sexual misconduct allegations
  • Understand the major processes/steps in a Title IX investigation
  • Understand differing standards of evidence and what is required in Title IX investigations
  • Walk away with an outline of how to conduct a basic civil rights investigation that they can tailor as needed or use as-is


Heather Cowan, M.A., has over 15 years of professional experience working with diverse student populations in sexual health, student conduct and civil rights investigations. She is currently the Title IX Coordinator at the University of New Mexico. Previously, she was the Sexual Misconduct Program Manager in the Office of Student Conflict Resolution at the University of Michigan and an Investigator with UM's Office for Institutional Equity.

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