Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you are reporting an incident, or you are responding to an allegation, you likely have many questions. Many of those questions will be answered when each party meets with the OEOA Investigator to discuss complaint procedures and the investigative process. However, you can also find several answers in the following Frequently Asked Questions.
- Who can I contact with questions about my case or for more information about the complaint process?
- What should I do if I am an individual with a disability and I need an accommodation to participate in the complaint and/or investigation process?
If you are an individual with a disability and need a reasonable accommodation in order to meet with an OEOA Investigator or participate in this process, please contact Student Access and Accommodation Services, 350 Fell Hall, Campus Box 1290 Normal, IL 61790-1290, (309) 438-5853 to make arrangements. OEOA will work with you and Student Access and Accommodation Services to provide the necessary services for your participation.
- How does Illinois State University receive reports about incidents like sexual assault?
Local police jurisdictions, Illinois State University Police, and University Responsible Employees (including Student Health Services staff) are required to inform OEOA of disclosures, complaints, or reported incidents involving Illinois State University students where sexual assault/misconduct, dating/domestic violence, and/or stalking are indicated. While most reports are received from third parties, students may also directly report their experiences to OEOA to learn more about supportive measures and how to file a formal complaint.
- Why is Illinois State University involved in this matter?
Illinois State University is committed to both supporting your well-being and safety and acting to ensure equal education access for all of our students. For that reason, Illinois State University follows its review and investigation procedures when it receives information or reports regarding incidents that may involve sexual harassment, sexual assault/misconduct, dating/domestic violence, and/or stalking. Local law enforcement agencies also have agreements with the University to share information reported to them involving ISU students, and this helps to ensure the safety of the entire campus community. While some students may only want to file a report with a local police jurisdiction, students should be aware that reports involving sexual assault/misconduct, dating/domestic violence, and/or stalking will be shared with OEOA in order for staff to follow up with the involved students to discuss supportive measures and how to file a formal complaint through the University process.
- Who will information about this incident be shared with? Will OEOA tell my parents?
The University is required to complete certain publicly available reports and disclosures, including the Annual Security Report required by the Clery Act and to the State of Illinois; however, such reports are prepared without the inclusion of personally identifying information about you. More information about Clery reportable crimes can be found at https://security.illinoisstate.edu/report/crime_reporting/. All information involved in the OEOA complaint process is maintained in a secure manner, and information is only shared with people who are directly involved in administering the University’s response, or if an individual submits a waiver under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that permits the University to share information related to the complaint. Parents of students are not contacted about an OEOA complaint unless such a FERPA waiver is filed, the complaint involves minors, or if parental notification is deemed necessary in the sanctioning process (as determined by Student Conduct and Community Responsibilities). The University will also maintain as confidential any assistance or supportive measures provided to you to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the institution to provide the assistance or protective/interim measures.
- I disclosed a recent incident to my advisor/professor/supervisor, and now the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access is contacting me to schedule a meeting. Am I under investigation or in trouble?
No. Our priority is your well-being, safety, educational access, and the safety of our campus. Thus, our focus is on gathering information about the report we received and providing you with information about your rights, available supportive measures, and information on filing a formal complaint. An individual who reports sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct will not be subject to the disciplinary action by the University for his/her own personal consumption of alcohol or drugs at or near the time of the incident, provided that any such violations did not and do not place the health or safety of any other person at risk. The University has an obligation to reach out to you about the report received, but our ultimate goal is to ensure your continued equal educational access
- Who should I contact to request assistance with University supportive measures like changing classes, moving residence hall rooms, or obtaining a contact restriction due to alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and/or stalking?
- As a possible Complainant in an OEOA investigation, is the meeting I am being asked to attend mandatory?
No, this meeting is not mandatory, but is highly encouraged. The purpose of the meeting is to provide you with information about supportive measures available to you both on and off campus and to share information with you about the University processes that are available to address this incident. Sometimes, OEOA needs more information about an alleged incident before we can determine how to proceed. If you choose to attend this meeting, the OEOA Investigator will ask you a few more questions about the report we received, discuss the OEOA complaint process with you, and provide you with information on how to file a formal complaint in order to prompt an OEOA review of the allegations and appropriate next steps.
- Can I bring a support person or advisor with me to meetings with the OEOA Investigator?
Yes, you are welcome to have someone present with you at the initial meeting and during your interview to offer advice and support, provided the individual is not a potential witness to the incident or would otherwise be providing information during OEOA’s investigation. This person may be a family member, a friend, a significant other, an attorney, a counselor, or anyone else that will help you feel as comfortable as possible. If you do not have a support person, you can reach out to a Confidential Advisor at (309) 438-3655. Please note that this person’s role is limited to advising and supporting you, and that this individual may not participate directly in the meeting or interview. The student must submit a signed FERPA waiver prior to the meeting to allow the Investigator to speak about the complaint in front of the advisor or support person.
- As a Complainant or Respondent, am I required to provide information to the OEOA Investigator?
No, you are not required to provide information. Your participation with the University investigation, hearing, or other proceedings associated with this report is completely voluntary. There are a variety of ways in which you can participate in the University process and those will be reviewed during the meeting we have requested. You are welcome and encouraged to participate in the University process to your desired level of comfort. However, should a Complainant choose not to participate in an OEOA investigation, please understand that without a formal complaint being filed, the University cannot move forward with an investigation under Policy 1.2, but this does not limit the Office of Student Conduct and Community Responsibilities’ ability to address the behavior through the Code of Student Conduct. In some circumstances, the Title IX Coordinator can file a formal complaint on behalf of the University. Should a Respondent choose not to provide information, the investigation may proceed based on the information that is available at that time. There will be additional opportunities throughout the investigation and hearing process for individuals to provide information.
- What if I change my mind and wish to withdraw my participation?
If you have filed a formal complaint regarding an alleged incident of misconduct with OEOA, you may withdraw it at any time, with the understanding that the University may be limited in addressing the alleged behavior.
- As a Complainant, can I request confidentiality or ask the University not to investigate further?
Yes. Prior to filing a formal complaint, the University can work with you to keep your concerns confidential while providing supportive measures, to the extent that the supportive measures allow for confidentiality. For example, if you do not wish to file a formal complaint but are requesting a contact restriction, OEOA would need to disclose your identity to the other party in order to convey the contact restriction guidelines. If you have already filed a formal complaint, you may withdraw it at any time. However, should the Title IX Coordinator perceive there to be grounds for the University to continue investigating the allegations, the Title IX Coordinator reserves the right to file a formal complaint on behalf of the University.
- What if I do not file a formal complaint and then change my mind and want more information about the University processes or wish to participate?
You may contact OEOA at (309) 438-5411 at any time to request more information about your case in particular and/or the OEOA complaint process. Please note, a formal complaint must be received by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access in order to proceed with an investigation. If you do not file a formal complaint, you will be notified of the status of the case, which could result in the matter being dismissed under Policy 1.2 and addressed through the Code of Student Conduct disciplinary process.
- Can I talk to my friends about the investigation I am involved in?
The University cannot restrict or deny your ability to share or discuss information related to the alleged incident. The OEOA Investigator working with you on your case will ask you about any information you may be able to provide as evidence for their review and for a list of possible witnesses to interview. For example, you may want to reach out to friends who can provide you with screenshots or video that you would like to provide as evidence if you no longer have access to them from your own device.
- Do I have the right to file a criminal complaint as well?
Yes. Illinois State University’s response to this report is independent of any criminal processes. You also have a right to file a criminal complaint with the appropriate law enforcement authorities. You can contact the Illinois State University Police at (309) 438-8631, the Normal Police Department at (309) 454-9535, or the Bloomington Police Department at (309) 820-8888.
You also have the right to request assistance in notifying law enforcement authorities and the right to request an order of protection, no contact order, restraining order, or other similar lawful orders issued by a criminal, civil, or tribal court. ISU’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services (309-438-7948) and YWCA’s Stepping Stones Program (309-556-7000) both offer advocates who can accompany you through the process of filing a criminal complaint and/or requesting an order of protection, no contact order, restraining order, or other similar lawful order.
- What if I don’t want to file a criminal complaint or involve law enforcement?
You are not required to speak to law enforcement or to file a criminal complaint. You may be contacted by law enforcement authorities in response to this incident. If you are contacted by law enforcement authorities, it is not required, but is highly recommended that you speak to them so you can communicate your desired outcome, even if that is to request no involvement from law enforcement
- A formal complaint has been filed against me by another student. Am I already considered in violation of University Policy?
No, the University assumes the Respondent in an OEOA investigation is innocent until a preponderance of the evidence shows that it is more likely than not that a violation of University Policy 1.2 occurred. A Respondent is presumed innocent until a final determination is made on the case.
- As a Respondent, is the meeting I am being asked to attend mandatory?
No, this meeting is not mandatory, but it is highly encouraged. The purpose of the meeting is to provide you with information about the formal complaint received by OEOA, to discuss the OEOA investigative process, and to inform you of your rights and responsibilities during this process. During this meeting, the OEOA Investigator will also discuss supportive measures available to you both on and off campus.
- The police never contacted me. Why is the University even involved?
It is important to remember that the University and criminal processes are separate and different, but they may proceed concurrently. For the safety of our campus community, local law enforcement agencies have agreements with Illinois State University to share information about reports received involving ISU students.
- Should I hire a lawyer?
You are not required to hire a lawyer in order to proceed with the OEOA complaint process as outlined in University Policy 1.2 and Procedures 1.2.2. If you choose to hire a lawyer at your own expense, they may attend the OEOA process meeting and interview with you as your advisor with the understanding that the advisor’s role is to provide guidance, advice, and assistance. Should the formal complaint result in a hearing before a panel of decision-makers, an advisor is required to participate in cross-examination of participating parties. You can provide your own advisor of your choosing, and this advisor does not have to be a lawyer. If you do not have an advisor at the time of the hearing, the University will provide one for you at no fee or cost. The University appointed advisor will not be an attorney.
- Will I ever have to sit in the same room as the other party? Will I have to see them? Will they be asking me questions?
All meetings prior to the administrative hearing with the panel of decision-makers will involve only the OEOA Investigator, the individual party, and an advisor of their choosing should they bring one. At the hearing, all participating parties will either be in the same room or visible to each other using video conferencing technology. Federal regulations require students involved in a hearing to be present and available for questioning by the other party’s advisor, and that will take place either in person or through available technology. Parties will not be questioning each other directly during hearings before a panel of decision-makers.
- What if I am retaliated against for participating in this investigation?
Illinois State University Policy 1.2(Q) prohibits retaliation against individuals who provide information to the University, bring forth a complaint, or who are asked to cooperate in an investigation. As part of this Policy, Illinois State University, its officers, employees, or agents, may not retaliate, intimidate, threaten, coerce, or otherwise discriminate against any individual for exercising their rights or responsibilities. Any allegation of retaliation initiated by someone participating in an investigation will be deemed a separate and distinct violation of the Illinois State University Policy and will be investigated independently. Additionally, you may contact OEOA at any time to discuss supportive measures such as class changes or a University Contact Restriction related to this report.
Also, remember to not engage in retaliatory behavior yourself (e.g. intimidation, threats, harassment, etc.) directed toward anyone who you believe may be involved in or cooperating with an OEOA investigation. If you are experiencing retaliation, please contact our office at (309) 438-5411 immediately so that we may address it promptly.
- How long will this investigation take?
The University will strive to complete the investigation, meaning the period from commencement of an investigation through to completion of an investigative report, within a reasonably prompt timeframe. The commencement of an investigation begins with the receipt of a formal complaint from the Complainant or when the Title IX Coordinator signs a formal complaint on behalf of the University. The University will strive to gather evidence and conduct interviews within sixty (60) University business days, with the understanding that additional time beyond sixty (60) University business days may be necessary. OEOA reserves the right to extend this time frame by a reasonable period according to the scope of the investigation, the availability of witnesses, any concurrent police investigations, and the cooperation of the parties. If additional time is necessary, both the Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the OEOA's need to extend the investigation beyond the allotted sixty (60) University business days limit.