FAQs for Complainants & Respondents

The following information is provided to increase awareness and knowledge of the complaint resolution process for those participating as an affected person and an accused person, and to address some common questions and concerns regarding participation in the investigation.

First, let’s talk terminology.
In the investigation process, affected persons or those bringing forward allegations are referred to as Complainants, and accused individuals or those responding to allegations are referred to as Respondents.  Sometimes Complainants and Respondents are referred to individually as “a party” or jointly as “the parties.”  Individuals who have direct experience with or knowledge of events, issues, or circumstances related to  the investigation, or who Complainants or Respondents want the investigator to speak with, are referred to as witnesses.

What if I’d like to attempt to resolve the complaint informally rather than going through an investigation and formal resolution?
Both parties have the option of requesting an informal resolution to the complaint.  If either party makes this request, the other party will be notified and has the option to agree to participate in the informal resolution process.  For more information on your options, visit Informal Resolution (link).

Do I have to participate in an interview with investigators?
Although it is our hope that you’ll agree to be interviewed, you are not obligated to meet with anyone or participate in the process.  However, it’s important to understand that answering questions in the investigation and at a hearing (if applicable) is almost always a crucial component of the our ability to gather necessary information to resolve a complaint.

We also recognize the difficulty of participating in an investigation and the concerns you may have regarding how your participation may influence or impact your academic and/or professional life, as well as personal and professional relationships.  If you have such concerns, you are strongly encouraged to contact us (link) to discuss possible ways we may help to prevent potential acts of retaliation, to respond to acts of retaliation that do occur, and/or work with you to provide solutions that may help you to participate in the investigation.

Further, if you choose not to participate:

  • Complainants – The complaint may proceed without your participation.
    • Any finding will be rendered based on the information made available to investigators during the course of the investigation.
    • Any testimony or evidence that would have been available had you participated would not be considered new evidence for purposes of an appeal. 
  • Respondents – The complaint will proceed regardless of whether you choose to participate.
    • Any finding will be rendered based on the information made available to investigators during the course of the investigation. 
    • Any testimony or evidence that would have been available had you participated would not be considered new evidence for purposes of an appeal. 
    • At any point in the complaint resolution process but prior to a determination being made as to whether a policy violation has occurred:
      • Students – You may choose to permanently separate from the University of Missouri System, resulting in the dismissal of the complaint without a finding.
      • Employees – You may choose to resign from UMKC. If you choose to resign, the complaint may be dismissed with the option to renew the process should you be rehired for any position within the University of Missouri System.

This process makes me nervous or anxious.  Is there anyone I can talk with before or after my interview?
UMKC provides both parties and witnesses with confidential on-campus support (link); you can also find links to connect with off-campus resources (link) on our website.

What if I’m a student and I was engaged in behavior that may violate UMKC’s Standard of Conduct? Will I (or my friends) get in trouble?
The health and safety of every student at the University is a top priority of UMKC. With that in mind, and with the intent to reduce barriers to reporting and encourage students to come forward with any knowledge or experiences related to discrimination or harassment, including sexual misconduct, students, including Complainants, Respondents, and witnesses, may be granted amnesty from disciplinary action under 200.010 Standard of Conduct (link) for minor student conduct violations at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator.  For more information, contact UMKC’s Title IX Coordinator (link).

What if the alleged incident has resulted in a criminal charge?
The complaint resolution process at the University is not to determine if a Respondent violated the law; it is to determine whether the behavior was in violation of the University policy.  The goals of the criminal justice system and the University’s complaint resolution process are substantially different. As it is the role of the University process to address the Respondent’s decisions as they pertain to UMKC policy, we will not delay our investigative and decision-making processes based on the timeline of any criminal proceedings.

What will meeting with an investigator be like?
The investigator is in a neutral role, with their purpose being to gather as much relevant information as possible, without taking sides or trying to prove the position of either party. 

In achieving this purpose, they will:

  • record the interview and take notes as you talk with them
  • ask you about what happened and allow you the opportunity to share however much or as little as you like
  • ask follow-up questions to better understand what you’ve shared
  • ask for any information or documentation that you might have such texts, screenshots, emails, photos, etc. that could help them better understand the situation
  • end the meeting with you by asking you if there is anything you would like to share, such as information the investigator didn’t ask about but that you feel is important for them to know

Do I need to bring anything with me for the interview?
You do not need to bring anything with you to meet with the investigator unless there is specific information that you would like to share with them, such as screenshots, text messages, photos, or other digital or physical documentation.

You are welcome to bring a Support Person (link) with you to any meetings or interviews with us.

Can I ask the investigator questions about what others have shared?
As a party to the complaint, you may ask investigators questions related to testimony and evidence provided by the other party and any witnesses.  You will also have access to an initial draft of the investigation report, which will include all testimony and evidence provided to investigators as part of the investigative process.  You’ll have an opportunity to respond to this information prior to the final draft of the report being issued to both parties and the decision-maker.

Will I be interviewed more than once?
In most cases, the investigator will ask to interview you more than once, especially when additional information becomes available during the investigation and/or to follow up with you to clarify information or previous statements.

If I participate in the investigation, will my identity be disclosed to others?
We protect the privacy of individuals who participate in the investigation process.  This means that information about the parties, including their identity and what information they share with the investigator, is shared only with those individuals involved in the investigation and resolution of a complaint who have a need to know.

As part of an initial inquiry into a report of discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, we may refrain from sharing the identity of anyone who provides information to us beyond our team, with the intent being to encourage those individuals to speak with us.  This allows our team to gather information to assist in determining whether an investigation is appropriate or required.  However, if a formal complaint is filed and an investigation is conducted, we will need to provide your name and the information you shared with us to the other party and the decision-makers resolving the complaint.

To ensure fairness, the investigation process provides rights to both Complainants and Respondents:

  • Both parties must have notice of the complaint and allegations the investigation is seeking to resolve; and
  • Both parties must be offered a meaningful opportunity to respond to the information gathered during the investigation.

As a result, both parties will have knowledge of the information shared with investigators by the other party and any witnesses, including the identity of the witnesses and what information they shared.  Additionally, in order to conduct a thorough investigation, there may be occasions when the investigator may need to share information provided by one party or witness with the other party or witnesses in order to facilitate the fact-gathering portion of the investigation.

Ultimately, we cannot and do not guarantee confidentiality or anonymity to anyone participating in the investigation process, including Complainants, Respondents, or witnesses.

Can your team talk with my parent(s), friends, or colleagues about any aspect of the complaint resolution process?
We would be happy to answer any general questions regarding UMKC’s complaint resolution process but in order to discuss the specifics of a report, complaint, or investigative or resolution process with someone other than those involved, our office must be provided with a written waiver explicitly giving us permission to speak with them directly.  The only exception is certification that a student is the dependent of their parent(s) according to Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code.  In lieu of a student’s written consent, a parent/guardian may provide a copy of their most recent Federal Income Tax Return to our team to meet certification requirements (financial information may be blacked out).

Students and parents can find out more about privacy restrictions by visiting https://www.umkc.edu/registrar/student-records/ferpa/index.html (link). 

Employees may refer to HR-114 Release of Employee Information (link).

If students or employees want to waive their right to privacy as it relates to the complaint resolution process, they must complete the Release of Information (link) to provide consent for disclosures.

What will investigators do with the information I share?
Investigators will use your information along with all other evidence collected to compile a report when their investigation is complete. This report will be reviewed by both parties for comments and used in the resolution of the complaint by the decision-maker.  In order to preserve the privacy of the parties as much as possible, we don’t share the report, the outcome of the investigation, any sanction, or any other University action that may result from the investigative process with witnesses, but both parties have access to all of this information.

Can I talk about the complaint and investigation with others?
In order to protect the privacy of all who are involved, including Complainants, Respondents, and witnesses, and to protect the integrity of the investigation, we ask both parties and all witnesses to maintain as much privacy regarding the complaint and investigation as possible.  However, you are not bound by confidentiality, and the University may not take action against you for discussing the complaint or investigation, unless your actions in doing so result in perceived or actual retaliation against others participating in the process.  

I feel like I’m being treated differently now that I’ve participated in the complaint resolution process, and it seems like retaliation.  What can I do?
Our policies prohibit retaliation against persons who are involved with the complaint resolution process in any way, including Complainants, Respondents, and witnesses. Retaliation can take many forms, including sharing information in a manner intended to pressure or shame parties and witnesses in connection with the investigation or resolution of a complaint or to discourage parties or witnesses from assisting with the process. Should you believe you or someone else is experiencing retaliation, we strongly encourage you contact us (link) or make a report (link) immediately so the matter can be addressed appropriately.

In order to resolve the complaint, a hearing has been scheduled. What does this mean and what should I expect?
For both the Equity Resolution Process and the Resolution Process under Title IX, neither parties nor witnesses have an obligation to attend the hearing or to participate in cross-examination.  The Hearing Panelists cannot base their determination regarding whether a policy violation occurred solely on whether a party or witness responded to questions posed during cross-examination.

However, if the hearing is set to resolve a complaint under Title IX, and a party or witness chooses not to participate in the hearing or declines to answer questions posed during cross-examination, any information they provided during the investigation cannot be relied upon by the Hearing Panelists in reaching a determination regarding whether the Respondent violated University policy.  This is not true in the Equity Resolution Process; all information gathered during the investigation will be reviewed, and if relevant, may be relied upon by the Hearing Panelists in reaching a decision, regardless of whether a party or witness participates in the hearing.

Each party will join the hearing through Zoom, as will all participating witnesses.  A few days prior to the hearing, you’ll receive an invitation providing Zoom connection information.  It is helpful for you to use your webcam or smartphone camera, but you may choose not to do so if you wish. 

The Complainant will testify first, followed by any witnesses they wish to call.  Then the Respondent will testify, followed by the Respondent’s witnesses.  Witnesses will be held in the waiting room until it is time for their testimony.  Once invited into the hearing, witnesses will be given the opportunity to answer questions from the Hearing Panelists and each party, either through the Hearing Panel Chair (Equity) or the party’s Advisor (Title IX), as well as questions from the investigator.  Both parties will be able to see and hear each witness, and they will be able to see both parties, unless either party has opted to turn off their camera(s).  Once witnesses have provided their testimony, they will exit the Zoom room and leave the hearing.  Once both parties and all witnesses have testified, the investigator provides testimony and responds to any questions.  

How long is a hearing and what time do I need to log on?
Unfortunately, there really is no exact way of knowing how long a hearing will take. Parties are asked to be present a few minutes prior to the hearing, which typically begins at 9:00 a.m. Sometimes the hearing is very brief, but other times the hearing takes an extended period of time, which means you could be tied up for less than two hours or more than eight hours.

You should plan to be present from just before 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the day of the hearing; if you have class or work obligations, please contact us (link) as soon as possible so arrangements can be made.

Who should I contact if I need an accommodation during an investigation and/or hearing process?
If you have a disability or need assistance in communicating with investigators or hearing panelists, please contact us (link) as soon as possible to allow time to make arrangements for appropriate accommodations.