The Complainant

In a Title IX case the complainant is the individual who has filed a complaint against another student. This individual is a survivor of an assault, and is entitled to a specific set of rights and accommodations under the Title IX act. 

The Complainant's Rights & Responsibilities

The Office of Student Conduct has a responsibility to:

  • Ensure a prompt, thorough, and equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of sexual misconduct, typically within 60 days of receipt of a formal complaint;

  • Take appropriate action to ensure that the educational environment is free of discrimination, to prevent the recurrence of a hostile environment, and to take appropriate measures to remedy the effects of the misconduct on the Complainant

  • and/or the University community; 

  • Issue a “No Contact Order” to the Respondent and Complainant at the start of an investigation;

  • Ensure that the student conduct procedures are conducted by officials who receive annual and ongoing training on the dynamics of trauma associated with allegations of sexual misconduct;

  • Notify the Complainant and Respondent of any substantive developments regarding aspects of an investigation in a timely manner;

  • Reasonably prevent, as much as possible, visual contact between the Complainant and Respondent during all student conduct proceedings and/or related meetings.

As a Complainant, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect throughout the student conduct process;

  • Not be retaliated against by any University employees or students as a result of your involvement in an investigation;

  • Be accompanied by an advisor of your choosing throughout the conduct process;

  • Be informed of the University’s student conduct process, anticipated timeframes, and possible outcomes of a complaint;

  • File a student conduct complaint regardless of your relationship with the Respondent;

  • File a criminal report with the Allegheny College Public Safety and/or Meadville Police Department, which does not preclude filing a formal complaint with the Office of Student Conduct;

  • Contact the Office of Student Conduct to request protective measures. remedies, support, and resources;

  • Not be charged with the consumption of alcohol and/or use of illegal or counterfeit drugs or controlled substances in cases of alleged sexual misconduct;

  • Be given an opportunity to submit a written statement regarding the incident for the “Case File;"

  • Be given an opportunity to submit a written statement regarding the impact (“Impact Statement”) of the complaint and/or requested remedies that would be reviewed by the Hearing Panel if the Respondent is found “Responsible;"

  • Review—within the parameters of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)—a copy of the “Case File;”

  • Not have information regarding your dress and/or prior sexual history with anyone other than the Complainant considered during the investigation, unless you choose to discuss it;

  • Submit, in writing, a request for the Office of Student Conduct to substitute a faculty/staff member in place of the one (1) student member of the Hearing Panel for Sexual Misconduct cases

  • This request will not be granted unless it is submitted by both you and the Respondent;

  • Receive written notification regarding the outcome of a case; and

  • Appeal a Hearing Panel decision, as outlined in the Sexual Misconduct Procedures Manual

This rights and responsibilities page has been adapted from Georgetown University's page, and is not entirely representative of the rights and responsibilities afforded to students by Allegheny College's Title IX policies. 

How To Support

A Complainant 

When you learn that someone you know has experienced sexual assault, relationship violence or stalking, it may be hard to know what to say. The following suggestions will not “fix” the pain or make the trauma disappear, but if you react/act in a supportive way you can help them feel less isolated and safer.

  • Listen. Letting a victim/survivor speak and direct the conversation can help them regain a sense of control. Let them decide what they want to talk about and when they want to talk about it.

  • Believe them. Our culture makes it very difficult to talk about sexual assault, and the fear of not being believed is a very real concern for people who have been assaulted. Don’t contribute to that fear.

  • Assure the victim/survivor that they are not to blame for the assault, no matter what the circumstances of the assault were.

  • Do not judge how the victim/survivor reacted during or after the assault — whether they fought back or not, how long they waited to ask you for help, etc. Understand that they handled the situation the best they could.

  • Be mindful when asking questions about the assault so that you do not seem judgmental, condescending or otherwise unsupportive.

  • Be supportive of the victim/survivor decisions. Victims/survivors have a number of options and resources that may seem overwhelming. Whether or not they report the assault, press charges, attend counseling, etc., is not up to you. It is important and empowering for the victim/survivor to make their own decisions about how to proceed after an assault. But, don’t be entirely uninvolved — they might ask for your opinion or advice, and some gentle encouragement to seek both medical and emotional help can be positive.

  • Be respectful of the victim/survivor.

  • Resist seeing the victim/survivor as a victim. You need to continue to see them as strong and courageous. After all, talking about a sexual assault is strong and courageous. It is important that you help the victim/survivor feel empowered and in control, which is more difficult if you don’t believe it yourself.

  • Accept that there might be changes in the victim/survivor’s personality or in your relationship. Sexual assault is a very traumatic experience that can change a person, and the healing process takes time.

  • Be aware that you might need support as well. The assault of someone you know and care for might make you feel anger, guilt, sadness and/or many other emotions. Take care of yourself and address your feelings as well, but be careful not to overwhelm the victim/survivor with your own emotions. If you seek support from someone, be sure to maintain the victim/survivor’s anonymity.

These tips have been adapted from Allegheny College's Title IX page.