Alternative Resolution Process
During any College resolution process there will be thorough communication with both students regarding each step in the procedure from the Title IX Coordinator and/or Investigator(s). Neither student is mandated to participate in any Prohibited Conduct proceeding(s), however their absence may limit the ability of the staff within the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct to evaluate all relevant information to the fullest extent possible. Both students may be assisted by an Advisor of their choice through all phases of the College process and can be provided with accommodations regarding concerns for their personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation during the process.
Overview of Alternative Resolution Process
General Description of Alternative Resolution Process
Alternative resolution is a voluntary process within The College of New Jersey’s Sexual Harassment, Misconduct, & Discrimination Policy that is grounded in Restorative Justice and allows a Respondent in a Prohibited Conduct case to accept responsibility for their behavior and/or potential Harm. By fully participating in this process the Respondent will not be charged with a violation of College Policy. The alternative resolution process is designed to eliminate the Prohibited Conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects in a manner that meets the needs of the Reporter, and attempts to repair harm caused, while still maintaining the safety of the overall campus community.
Required Elements for Participation
The alternative resolution process will only be used at the request and agreement of both the Reporter and Respondent and under the direction of the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct. In order for the Alternative Resolution Process to be appropriate both parties must have an understanding and agree on the necessary elements of the process. Both the Reporter and Respondent will have to agree to the following terms should they wish to participate in the Alternative Resolution Process:
- Participation in this process is voluntary and either the Reporter or Respondent can choose to end the process at any time prior to signing the agreement;
- Mediation, even if voluntary, will not be used in cases involving sexual assault;
- Both the Reporter and Respondent must participate in individual conference meetings with appropriate staff to learn more about the resolution process prior to participating;
- The process can only be used once and will not be considered if requested by a repeat Respondent under the Sexual Harassment, Misconduct, & Discrimination Policy;
- The Reporter and Respondent must agree to all recommendations laid out in the formal agreement or the case reverts back to investigation;
- Information documented during this process can be subpoenaed if a criminal investigation is initiated;
- Participation in this process does not constitute a responsible finding of a policy violation and therefore is not reflected on a Student’s disciplinary record;
- If the Respondent is documented and found responsible for any violations in the future this agreement can be used in the sanctioning phase; and
- The Respondent may be charged with Failure to Comply with a Directive of a College Official under the Sexual Harassment, Misconduct, & Discrimination Policy for failure to meet the requirements laid out in the agreement.
The College reserves the right to suspend or terminate this resolution option at any time, prior to both parties formally agreeing to the terms in the contract, and revert back to investigation.
Contents of the Resolution Agreement
Restorative Processes is a philosophical approach that embraces the reparation of Harm, healing of trauma, reconciliation of interpersonal conflict, and reintegration of people who have been marginalized through participatory learning and improved decision making skills. Rather than focusing on what policies have been violated, Restorative Processes instead identify who has been harmed and what actions are necessary to repair the harm.
The College recognizes that there is no single way to try and repair harm, and as such, the resolution agreement drafted as part of this process is tailored to be as individual as possible to try and repair in individualized harm that may have been caused/experienced. Therefore, there is no standard contract that is used for each case, rather they are unique to the needs of each individual Reporter.
While the resolution agreement is personalized and specific to each individual Reporter, some examples of possible options that Students may utilize in this process include, but are not limited to:
- Restorative Circle- Participation in a discussion by trained facilitators with any persons harmed and development of a shared agreement of how to correct the harm. The Reporter and Respondent (and possible community members) work together to develop an agreement that resolves the issue, and can help the Respondent restore their standing in their communities and repair relationships that were damaged by their actions. During the circle, both Students can have a support person present. A support person differs from an advisor as this person can have an active role during this process. A support person must be approved by the lead facilitator. Any agreements that are reached during the alternative resolution process must be documented, signed in-person or via email by the Reporter and Respondent, and approved by the Title IX Coordinator. If no agreement is reached then the matter may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator for further action.
- Informal Restorative Conference- The Title IX Coordinator will meet separately with the Reporter and the Respondent. The meetings will include discussion on the behavior, the impact on the Reporter, Respondent and the community. At the culmination of the meetings, the Title IX Coordinator will have a final meeting with the Respondent who will be required to complete exercises and/or educational activities to acknowledge the Harm their actions caused. All information discussed in this meeting will be shared with the Reporter.
- Informal Restorative Statements- This may include structured voluntary apology letters, affective questions towards the Respondent including; who was affected, how were they affected, and what was the harm caused, etc. This could be done either in-person with the Respondent or via written statements. All information discussed in this meeting will be shared with the Reporter.
- Salient Analysis of Interpersonal Dynamics (SAID) Workshop – consists of 3 individual one on one sessions (1 hour each) with the Respondent and a trained College staff member that are designed to create a space for those accused of (sexual violence and/or Violations of the Student Conduct Code) to examine their behavior and receive contextual information surrounding it with the goal of sparking behavior change, skill-building, and self-reflection.
- Submission of an Impact statement – The Reporter may choose to compose an impact statement describing their experience and resultant impact the alleged harm has had on them. The Reporter can decide in what manner they feel comfortable sharing the statement with the Respondent, such as in-person, in writing, via recording, etc. The statement would be shared with the Respondent and an opportunity to debrief about the contents of the statement. The Respondent will have an opportunity at the end of the meeting to provide any response to the Reporter’s statement and potentially provide a response impact statement of their own.
- Counseling Sessions
- Alcohol Education Classes – Consists of an individualized workshop focused on alcohol education and understanding the impact of consumption levels on a persons’ decision-making ability.
- Bi-weekly or Monthly check in meetings with the Title IX Coordinator or designee
- Restriction from participation in specific clubs and/or organization
- Restriction from participation in particular events (ie. Senior Week)
- Completion of a master education plan with regular meetings with the Title IX Coordinator or designee
- Community Service
Sanctions For Student Cases
In contrast to the Formal Grievance Process, the Alternative Resolution Process does not involve the implementation of punitive sanctions for the Respondent. This is a non-punitive process, which rather than focusing on whether a Policy violation occurred, focuses on identifying the incident that caused the harm and to whom, the needs of the person who was harmed, and how the person who caused harm can repair it. Should a Respondent agree to participate in this process and completes the agreement in good faith, no sanctions will be applied, nor will their participation be reflected on their disciplinary history through the College. However, in the event that the Respondent signs the contract stating that they will participate in all educational items laid out in the agreement and fails to do so, the Respondent may be charged with Failure to Comply with a Directive of a College Official under the Sexual Harassment, Misconduct, & Discrimination Policy and may receive punitive sanctions as a result.
Exceptions for Use of Resolution Option
Although rare, there are a few circumstances to which the College may decide that the Alternative Resolution is not an appropriate resolution option to use. When determining whether the use of the Alternative Resolution process would be appropriate to use for a particular case, the College will consider all of the known facts and circumstances, including but not limited to:
- whether an agreement to pursue an informal resolution is truly voluntary
- whether both parties are participating in good faith
- the nature of the alleged offense/violation
- whether there is an ongoing threat of harm or safety to the campus community
- the power dynamics between the parties
- whether the Respondent is a repeat offender
Decisions as to whether this resolution process is appropriate to use are made on a case by case basis, as no two cases are identical.
Common FAQs regarding this resolution option:
Is participation in this resolution process mandatory?
No. The College will not mandate either party to participate in any type of resolution process. In order for the Alternative Resolution Process to be used, both students must voluntarily agree to participate, otherwise this resolution option cannot be pursued.
Will the Respondent’s participation in this process appear on a disciplinary background check ?
No. This process is grounded in restorative justice and is focused on repairing the potential harm caused through educational means as opposed to punitive measures. If the Respondent agrees to participate in this process and completes the agreement in its entirety, nothing will be reflected on a background check. However, if the Respondent agrees to participate/signs the agreement, but fails to complete the contract as agreed upon, the case will be investigated and the Respondent may be charged with Failure to Comply with a College Directive and could face punitive sanctions, which would end up on a disciplinary history.
Flowchart of Option 2 – Alternative Resolution Process (Appendix from Policy)
Sample Alternative Resolution Agreement
If you would like to submit information regarding an incident that occurred on behalf of yourself, a friend, a colleague, or another, you are encouraged to File A Report Here and the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct will respond accordingly.