Investigation Process

An investigation is the process used by OPHD to carefully examine an allegation or complaint of discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, and other protected classes (ex. race, national origin, religion, etc.) in order to determine whether a university policy has been violated, and if so, what steps the university may take to correct and address such a violation.

This investigation is an administrative proceeding; it is not a criminal process. This means that the investigation determines whether university policy has been violated.


Complainant: the individual(s) making the allegation

Respondent: the individual(s) against whom the allegation is made who is responding to the allegation

Witness: an individual who has direct knowledge of or information about the allegation being made

Investigator: the individual charged with gathering information, including statements of the complainant, the respondent and witnesses, documents, texts, photos, pictures, images, and recordings, analyzing the information gathered, and determining by a preponderance of the evidence what happened.

Preponderance: the standard against which information and evidence gathered during the investigation is assessed. The preponderance of evidence standard means “more likely than not”

Investigation Steps

  1. Notification of Investigation: A written notice is sent to the Respondent and the Complainant, separately.

  2. Interviews: An investigator interviews the Complainant and Respondent separately where each has the opportunity to submit evidence and identify witnesses.

  3. Evidence and Witness interviews: The investigator collects evidence, interviews witnesses relevant to the reported incident.

  4. The investigator issues an Evidence Review to both parties. The parties have the opportunity to correct or amend statements.

  5. OPHD issues a Summary of Finding and Preliminary Determination: A written notice of outcome  is sent to both complainant and respondent along with a copy of the investigation report, and forwarded to the appropriate administrator for disciplinary action, Ex. Center for Student Conduct for students, People & Culture for staff and the Vice Provost of the Faculty for Faculty matters.

Hearing Process for SVSH (for cases that require a hearing)

  1. Hearing: a Hearing Officer conducts a live, virtual hearing with the parties, their advisors, and relevant witnesses.

  2. Decision: The Hearing Officer issues their decision about responsibility.

  3. Appeal Phase: Either/both parties are able to appeal the Hearing Officer’s decision and/or the proposed sanctions to the Appeal Officer. 

  4. End of Process: The process is complete once the Appeal Phase is over or if neither party appeals the Hearing Officer’s decision. Sanctions and remedies, if applicable, are effective immediately following the end of the process. 

For more information, please visit the SVSH Hub webpage on SVSH hearings