If you are a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and have been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual or domestic/dating violence, stalking or other gender-based harassment, it is important that you read the following information. Although not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of your options and rights, this information may be useful to you.
Sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other gender-based harassment occurring in the college setting implicates federal law called Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities and which triggers certain responsibilities on the part of UAB. UAB has a Title IX Coordinator who can help explain UAB’s responsibilities in these cases:
UAB is committed to maintaining a positive learning, working, and living environment. UAB will not tolerate acts of sexual harassment, sexual or domestic/dating violence, stalking, or related retaliation against or by any student. When sexual harassment, sexual or domestic/dating violence, or stalking has occurred and is brought to the attention of UAB, the university will take steps to end the harassment or violence, prevent its reoccurrence, and address its effects. For more information, see the UAB Equal Opportunity and Discriminatory Harassment Policy.
Both Non-Academic Student Conduct and the Title IX Coordinator have the authority to address complaints of sexual harassment, sexual or domestic/dating violence, and stalking in a non-criminal context. This UAB process is completely separate from law enforcement and the legal system process. When the respondent is a UAB student, Non-Academic Student Conduct provides a student conduct process for investigating those cases whether they occur on or off campus. If you are uncertain about who to contact, please call either the Office of Student Engagement at (205) 975-9509 or the Office of Student Life at (205) 934-4175 and staff members in these offices will ensure that the report is ultimately reviewed by the appropriate person(s). When the respondent is not a student, UAB can assist in connecting students with counseling and other support services.
Non-Academic Student Conduct will review the allegations and determine an appropriate course of action. Some cases can be handled informally and outside of the formal investigative process, although UAB will not mediate cases of sexual assault even on a voluntary basis. All investigations will be conducted in a thorough and neutral manner. The Non-Academic Student Conduct process is outlined in the Student Code of Conduct which can be found online here:
When UAB becomes aware of sexual violence, UAB may have an obligation to proceed with an investigation, regardless of a complainant’s wishes, in order to ensure campus safety. A complainant is not required to participate if s/he chooses not to; however, this may limit UAB’s ability to respond to the incident. If a student requests that her/his name or other identifying information not to be used in an investigation, UAB will consider the request in light of the context of its responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment. In most cases, information including a student’s name may be shared with the respondent, witnesses, and University officials who have a legitimate need to know. Beyond that, UAB will take steps to protect the identities of all individuals involved.
A complainant may be accompanied by an advisor/support person during any meeting or hearing. The advisor/support person may be an attorney or any support person. In UAB’s process, the complainant and respondent will not be permitted to directly question each other and are not required to be present together at any point. Both a complainant and a respondent have the right to identify witnesses and provide other information relevant to the investigation. UAB will decide the case based on a preponderance of the evidence standard (whether or not it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred).
In most cases, UAB will not wait until a criminal case is resolved before proceeding with a case. In addition, if a UAB official has a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed, s/he may be obligated to report to law enforcement, if police have not already been notified. UAB’s fact-finding investigation may be delayed for a period of time upon a request from law enforcement, but the university will promptly resume the investigation as soon as possible. UAB uses its best efforts to resolve investigations of sexual or domestic/dating violence, sexual harassment, or stalking within 60 days, but depending on the complexity of the case, up to 90 days may be necessary. UAB will keep a complainant advised as to the status of the case as the complainant desires and as is reasonable. The complainant and respondent will be informed of the outcome of the case in writing.
Because the school’s primary concern is student safety, minor alcohol and drug violations by a complainant will be handled informally whenever possible. The use of alcohol or another drug never makes an individual at fault for sexual violence.
UAB will take interim steps to protect a complainant while the case is pending. Depending on the case and the complainant’s wishes, these steps may include class and on-campus housing moves, ordering a respondent not to have contact with a complainant, excluding a respondent from parts of campus, or providing a complainant with an escort on campus. Any adjustments made will be designed to minimize the burden on the complainant’s educational program. Some of these actions may also be remedies in cases resulting in a finding of a policy violation.
UAB prohibits retaliation against any student who reports an incident of alleged sexual harassment, sexual or domestic/dating violence, stalking or against any student who testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding, investigation, or hearing relating to conduct allegations. Respondents are informed of this provision, and any retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator.
We encourage all students to contact the free and confidential UAB Counseling & Wellness Center at (205) 934-5816 or UAB Women’s Center at (205) 934-6946 for needed emotional support, as their staff can offer counseling and advocacy to all UAB students.
Three off-campus resources that may also be helpful are:
- Rape Response (24 hour hotline and SANE facility): (205) 323-7273
- Birmingham Police Department: 911
For a thorough explanation of UAB processes, please see the websites noted above or contact the Title IX Coordinator at (205) 934-4175.