Sexual Misconduct and Title IX

Advisor FAQs

What is an advisor?

An advisor is any individual selected by a complainant or respondent or appointed by the College to accompany the party during meetings related to the intake, investigation, and/or resolution of a sexual misconduct allegation to advise the party on the process and conduct cross-examination for the party at a hearing, if any. Complainants and respondents may each have only one advisor with them during a meeting, but they are not required to retain the same advisor throughout every meeting.

Who can be an advisor?

The advisor of a complainant’s or respondent’s choice may be anyone, including an attorney. While it is not advisable to choose as an advisor someone who is also a witness in the process, should a party decide to do so, the Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s) or hearing officer(s) in the matter will explore options for involving that person as both an advisor and witness and reduce the potential for bias and conflicts of interest.

ArtCenter also has identified individuals who have received training on the investigation and hearing process at the College, and these individuals are part of a pool of trained individuals who assist with these matters. When a complainant or respondent does not have an advisor, the College can appoint an advisor to assist them throughout the process.

What is the role of an advisor in an investigation meeting?

During an investigation or other non-hearing meeting, advisors are asked to participate as a support for the person they are accompanying. They may confer quietly, as necessary, with the complainant or respondent they are supporting, as long as the advisor does not disrupt the process. During an investigation meeting, the advisor may not speak on behalf of the individual they are supporting, including answering or asking questions for them. However, advisors can ask general questions about policy or process or request a break with the person they are supporting. Advisors may not participate in an investigative meeting on behalf of the party whom they are supporting without the party also being present.

Advisors are expected to act ethically, with integrity, and in good faith at all times. An advisor’s participation in the process must not interfere with the process or meeting. Any advisor who steps out of their role will be warned only once that their behavior is not meeting expectations set by the Sexual Misconduct Policy. If the advisor continues to disrupt or otherwise fails to respect the limits of the advisor role, the advisor will be asked to leave the meeting. When an advisor is removed from an investigative meeting, that meeting may continue without the advisor present or may be reconvened.

What is the role of an advisor at a hearing?

The advisor role at the hearing is more active than during investigation meetings. Only advisors may engage in cross-examination during the hearing, and therefore each complainant and respondent must have an advisor participate in any hearing that may take place.

Advisors participating in hearings are required to follow ArtCenter rules of decorum for the hearing. They are expected to act ethically, with integrity, and in good faith at all times. In the event that a party’s advisor of choice is removed during a hearing for not following the expectations of an advisor, the College will appoint an advisor to step into the role or, at the discretion of the hearing officers, the hearing may be reconvened after addressing concerns with the party’s advisor of choice. The Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), hearing officer(s), and appeals officer(s) have the authority to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior of an advisor, and these administrators have the responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with this Policy.

Cross-examination is a part of the hearing phase of the formal grievance process, and will be explained thoroughly before the hearing as well as at the outset of the hearing so the complainant, respondent, and their advisors understand what to expect.

What does it look like for advisors to pose questions at a hearing?

Hearings are normally conducted via video-conferencing technology, so it is likely that everyone will participate from separate rooms. Cross-examination is a part of the hearing process in which the complainant and respondent can ask for their respective advisors to pose questions of the other party. Questions asked by one party’s advisor of the other party or witnesses must be determined relevant by the hearing officer(s). Therefore, before a party or witness answers a cross-examination question posed by a party’s advisor, there is a pause to allow the hearing officer(s) to determine relevance and instruct the party whether or not to answer the question as posed.

What if a party does not have an advisor for a hearing?

Complainants and respondents both must have an advisor participate in a hearing, if a hearing takes place. The hearing notification letter will explain that each party must have an advisor present at the hearing, without exceptions, and so the parties will each have time to identify an advisor or inform the Title IX Coordinator that they will need one assigned to them.

If a party elects to proceed without an advisor to a hearing process, if their advisor of choice is unavailable or asked to leave a hearing proceeding for failure to adhere to College policy, or if their advisor does not conduct cross-examination for the party, ArtCenter will assign an advisor to the party for the specific purpose of conducting cross-examination during the hearing.

I have been asked to be an advisor. Can I learn more about the role before I participate in a process?

Yes! Advisors are welcome to meet with the Title IX Coordinator and/or the investigator or other administrator(s) conducting interviews/meetings in advance of these interviews or meetings. This pre-meeting allows advisors to clarify any questions they may have about ArtCenter processes, and allows ArtCenter an opportunity to clarify the role of an advisor. You can also learn more about the role of the advisor by reading Section 9H of the Sexual Misconduct Policy or by speaking with the individual who asked you to be their advisor.

What are the privacy expectations for an advisor?

An advisor is expected to maintain the privacy of the oral and written information and records to which they gain access in their role as advisor. ArtCenter may seek to restrict the role of any advisor who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by ArtCenter’s privacy or anti-retaliation expectations.

Normally, communications will be made directly with the complainant or respondent. If requested by a complainant or respondent working with an advisor, ArtCenter provides an optional consent form that authorizes the College to disclose information directly with a party’s advisor as well, usually in the form of copying the advisor on electronic communications. The parties must complete and return this form to the Title IX Coordinator before ArtCenter is able to disclose information or records directly with an advisor for the narrowly defined purposes outlined in the consent form.

I was asked to be an advisor for someone, but I have a busy schedule. How will that work?

Unfortunately, the process cannot be unreasonably delayed to accommodate the schedule of an advisor. ArtCenter does not typically change scheduled meetings to accommodate an advisor’s availability. ArtCenter expects advisors to adjust their schedules to allow for their participation in relevant meetings and interviews that have been scheduled directly with the person they are advising. Complainants and respondents may each have only one advisor with them during a meeting, but they are not required to retain the same advisor throughout every meeting. So, the person who asked you to be their advisor can have you accompany them on days you are available and be accompanied by someone else when you are unavailable.