Below are some of the most commonly asked questions as a resource guide for Complainants and Respondents. 

Will my parents be informed if I file a complaint or if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

No, not typically. Whether you are the complainant or the respondent student, the University’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent. Lander University may contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant and articulable health and/or safety risk, but will usually consult with the student first before doing so.

Will the accused know my identity?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the responding party has the right to know the identity of the complainant, as well as the specific nature of the allegations.

Do I have to name the responding party?

No, but please note that Lander University’s ability to remedy and respond to notice may be limited if the Complainant does not want Lander University to proceed with an investigation and/or grievance process. While balancing Lander University’s obligation to protect its community, the goal is to provide the Complainant with as much control over the process as possible. In cases where the Complainant requests confidentiality and does not wish to proceed with formal complaint, Lander University will attempt to honor this request to the fullest extent possible, providing the circumstances allow. Informal resolution options, supportive measures, and/or remedies to the Complainant and the community will still be offered, even if no formal action ensues.

If the Complainant elects to take no action, they can opt to file a formal complaint at a later date. Upon making a formal complaint, a Complainant has the right, and can expect, to have allegations taken seriously by Lander University, and to have the incidents investigated and properly resolved through the established procedures.

What happens if I report anonymously?

Anonymous reports are accepted and can give rise to a need to investigate. Lander University tries to provide supportive measures to all Complainants, which is impossible with an anonymous report. Because reporting carries no obligation to initiate a formal response, and as Lander University respects Complainant requests to dismiss complaints unless there is a compelling threat to health and/or safety, the Complainant is largely in control and should not fear a loss of privacy by making a report that allows Lander University to discuss and/or provide supportive measures. 

What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

The Title IX Coordinator, or designee, will be transparent about the process so that you know what to expect. The goal is to ensure a fair, unbiased process, but also to provide those involved with needed support and access to resources. That said, upon request our team will work diligently to connect you with available support services such as the CARE Team, Counseling Services, and/or a variety of off-campus resources. Additionally, to promote transparency, parties will be given an opportunity to inspect and review all directly related and/or relevant evidence obtained during the review and comment period. To ensure the investigation and/or any other proceeding(s), as applicable, remain unbiased, Lander University presumes the respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until evidence supports a different determination. Determinations of responsibility are only made at the conclusion of the grievance process. Complainants are encouraged to report such matters to university officials, and will be afforded equal rights throughout the process.

How does the administrative process differ from the criminal process?

The administrative process, facilitated by the university, is specific to alleged violations of policy. Complainants may also seek to pursue criminal charges based on the South Carolina Code of Laws. Both processes may proceed simultaneously or independently. The Lander University Police Department and/or the Title IX Coordinator will help to educate involved parties about each respective process, as applicable.  

Am I required to have an attorney?

The university will fully support your right to have an attorney present as an advisor throughout the administrative process. You may want to retain an attorney if you are the Respondent and/or if either party is considering filing for civil action. Parties may wish to retain counsel at their own expense if they wish to obtain legal advice about criminal prosecution and/or the university’s resolution process. (Regarding criminal matters, Complainants may opt not retain a private attorney to pursue prosecution because representation will be handled by the Solicitor’s Office.)

What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?

Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected within 120 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been subjected to criminal sexual assault, you should go to the Hospital Emergency Room, before washing yourself or your clothing. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (a specially trained nurse) at the hospital is usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (call the Emergency Room if you first want to speak to the nurse; ER will refer you). If a Complainant goes to the hospital, local police will be called, but they are not obligated to talk to the police or to pursue prosecution. Further, a local victim’s advocate will be called to offer support and assistance.

Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available, but will not obligate an individual to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the Complainant decide to do so later. The hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want. Do not disturb the crime scene—leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.

What if I'm afraid to report because I was engaged in underage drinking or the use of illicit drugs when the incident occurred?

Lander University community encourages the reporting of misconduct and crimes by Complainants and witnesses. Complainants or witnesses are sometimes hesitant to report to Lander University officials or participate in grievance processes because they fear that they themselves may be in violation of certain policies, such as underage drinking or use of illicit drugs at the time of the incident. Respondents may hesitate to be forthcoming during the process for the same reasons. It is in the best interests of the University community that Complainants choose to report misconduct to Lander University officials, that witnesses come forward to share what they know, and that all Parties be forthcoming during the process. Amnesty does not apply to more serious allegations such as physical abuse of another or illicit drug distribution. Lander University maintains a policy of offering Parties/witnesses amnesty, at its discretion, from minor policy violations in the Student Conduct Code such as underage consumption of alcohol or the use of illicit drugs (when related to the incident).

Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a student’s sexual misconduct conduct complaint?

The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish responsibility on the part of the Respondent. On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the Complainant’s memory and, therefore, may affect the outcome of the complaint unless there is further corroborating information. This should not, however, discourage any Complainant from coming forward. If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of university policy or law, you are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Lander University Police Department to advise you of your options.