Student Sexual Misconduct Complaint Process

fall term students









If you have experienced sexual misconduct and believe that Carleton's Policies Against Sexual Misconduct have been violated, you may choose to file a Complaint to begin the investigation and adjudication process. This is your choice. For some people, going through the complaint process is an important part of their healing, but for others it is more painful than restorative. You can talk through this decision with any member of the Sexual Misconduct Support Team.

If you are interested in filing a complaint, would like to discuss your options, or have any questions about the process, contact the Title IX Coordinator, Julie Thornton, another Lead Team member, or one of the SMS advisers. These conversations may require the coordinator or adviser to file a non-identifying report of sexual misconduct (for federally mandated record-keeping) but will not obligate you to begin the complaint process.

The Student Complaint Process can be broken into the general steps outlined here:

Initiating the Process
Post Process Follow-up

* Please note that the complaint process outlined here is for student-to-student sexual misconduct. Instances of misconduct involving faculty or staff members should be reported to the Title IX Deputy for faculty/staff.

Initiating the Process

Students considering filing a complaint should meet with the Title IX Coordinator, another Lead Team member, or an SMS Adviser. During the meeting, the student will learn about the complaint process. If the student decides to go forward with a complaint, this student (the complainant) and the coordinator will review information and expectations (PDF: 1st conversation checklist) of the complaint process and select an adviser for the complainant. If an adviser is not selected, one will be assigned.

When a complaint has been filed against a student, that student becomes the respondent. The respondent will be contacted by the coordinator and informed of the complaint. The respondent, together with the coordinator, will review the same information and expectations (PDF: 1st conversation checklist) that were shared with the complainant and will select an adviser. If an adviser is not selected, one will be assigned.

Under the Policies Against Sexual Misconduct, Carleton community members and others are protected against false complaints of sexual misconduct. Disciplinary action will be taken against any person knowingly and deliberately making a false complaint.

The Title IX Coordinator will remain available to answer questions by the complainant and respondent throughout the complaint process.


Every complaint brought forward will be promptly investigated. This means that prior to the Community Board on Sexual Misconduct (CBSM) resolution meeting, a qualified person (the investigator) will gather information regarding the incident, from whatever source, that will help the CBSM make a determination as to whether a policy has been violated. As part of the investigation, the investigator will meet with the complainant(s) and respondent(s) to gather facts about the incident. The investigator also may meet with other parties (witnesses) who may have information about the incident and also may review e-mails, text messages, photographs, and/or other documents that may be relevant to the complaint.
The investigator then will prepare and submit to the CBSM a written fact-finding summary regarding the investigation.


Resolution Meeting with a Panel

*This is a brief description of the resolution process. See here for the complete Student Reporting and Complaint Procedures (PDF) document, which contains a detailed outline of hearing procedures.

The goals of this resolution meeting are: a) to allow both the complainant and the respondent the opportunity to present their experiences, discuss the investigative summary, and to ask questions pertinent to the incident(s) in question; b) to have the matter considered and decided by an impartial panel representing different segments of the College community; and c) to determine whether a violation of College community standards has occurred.

The Community Board on Sexual Misconduct (CBSM) is the College body charged with adjudicating complaints of student-to-student sexual misconduct. Each sexual misconduct complaint is heard and adjudicated by a panel of three representatives drawn from the larger CBSM.

Resolution meetings with a panel are private and are not open to members of the Carleton community or to the public. In the meeting, both the complainant(s) and respondent(s) will have the opportunity to comment on points of agreement or disagreement with the investigative summary, and to respond to questions posed by the CBSM panel. The panel also will hear from the investigator, and may hear from witnesses who have additional information about the complaint. Either the complainant and/or respondent may request that the hearing be conducted such that the two parties are not in the hearing room at the same time.

Click here to review the Resolution Meeting with a Panel Procedures.

Policy Violation Decision

Following the resolution meeting, the panel will deliberate and vote on whether a violation of Carleton policy occurred.

The panel is charged with determining whether a violation of College policy occurred, and if so, to assign an appropriate sanction. Panel members will conclude that a violation occurred only if the statements, the investigative summary, and other information presented demonstrate that it is “more likely than not” that a violation occurred.

The panel deliberates in private after the meeting is completed to review the information presented. Only information included in the investigative summary and/or presented during the meeting will be considered in these deliberations. The panel reaches decisions about whether a violation occurred by majority vote. The chair of the CBSM does not vote.

Once it has reached a decision, the chair will verbally report the finding of violation or no violation to the complainant and respondent, each separately. Then the parties will be invited to discuss with the panel next steps, and if applicable, information that may inform the sanctioning decision.


If the panel determines that the respondent was in violation of the Policies Against Sexual Misconduct, they will deliberate further to determine appropriate sanctions. For more information about the sanctioning decision process and possible sanctions, see the end of the complete Student Reporting and Complaint Procedures (PDF) document.

Post Process Follow-up

A student’s network of support does not cease to exist when the complaint process ends. Both the complainant and respondent will meet with their respective advisers to discuss the outcome of the adjudication and develop plans for support to continue the healing process. They also will be asked to provide feedback about their experience with the complaint process so that the College can continue to improve its processes.


Either party has the right to appeal the decision of the CBSM panel. The purpose of an appeal is to review the adjudication process. Appeals are accepted on the basis of one or more of the following:

  1. procedural errors that may have substantially impacted the final decision;
  2. relevant new information that was not available at the time of the hearing and would have substantially affected the panel’s decision;
  3. sanctions that are substantially inconsistent with past institutional responses.

The right of appeal is contingent upon participation in the investigative and resolution meeting process. An appeal must be made in writing to the complaint coordinator within five business days of the date that the party receives written notification of the panel’s decision and imposed sanctions.

For more information about the appeal process, see the complete Student Reporting and Complaint Procedures (PDF) document.