In New York, the Title IX proceedings make interim measures a requirement during sexual assault investigations. As soon as a college or other educational institution is informed that there’s been an incident, they must implement interim measures for the protection of affected students.
Some complainants may request that the administration keep their identity confidential. A complainant may also struggle to cooperate fully with an investigation due to their desire to preserve their anonymity. Even when this is the case, and the school can’t conduct a full investigation into the incident, Title IX still requires that interim measures be implemented as a measure of protection. An experienced attorney can help explain what these measures are, what they mean, and how the proceedings will affect the students involved.
Determining What Interim Measures Are Necessary
Every sexual assault incident and investigation will be different. For this reason, there isn’t a calculated formula regarding the measures that a school should take. Instead, the school administration is meant to use discretion and analysis. There are a number of factors that are evaluated and considered when the school authorities decide what interim measures to implement. If the alleged perpetrator and the complainant have shared dorm space or classes, one interim measure would be for the school to help the complainant change their schedule. Another action would be to remove the perpetrator from a shared dorm building so that the complainant isn’t required to uproot their space.
Ultimately, the school should base the interim measures around the needs and desires of the complainant. To this end, the administration should consider:
- The specific needs of the complainant
- How old the students are and whether there’s any age difference
- The circumstances regarding the sexual assault incident
- The nature of the sexual violence
- The level of potential threat to the complainant from the accused, or the threat toward other students and the community on campus
Interim measures are meant to lessen the emotional burden and stress that the complainant experiences during the investigation. The purpose of interim measures is to protect the complainant. Interim measures should never be used to punish the complainant for speaking out, and they’re not meant to be used to protect the alleged perpetrator. If the school needs to decide between the comfort and safety of the complainant or the alleged perpetrator, Title IX prioritizes the complainant first.
Interim Measure Examples
The interim measures that are implemented will be unique to each specific case and its circumstances. However, universities and colleges have outlined reasonable examples of interim measures that can be discussed should there ever be an incident on campus. Every university and college in New York is required to have developed specific grievance procedures in accordance with Title IX. Because each school develops their own unique guidelines, the interim measures can vary widely from campus to campus.
Some common measures that can be implemented and built upon in a number of different situations include:
- No contact orders that prohibit the alleged perpetrator from contacting or being near the complainant
- An interim suspension of the alleged perpetrator while waiting for the investigation to conclude
- Academic accommodations for the complainant including exam schedule changes, class schedule changes, and alternative options for course completion to avoid contact with the alleged perpetrator
- Hands-on security measures like increased campus security and campus safety escorts
- Housing accommodations including housing contract changes and help relocating housing
- Mental health counseling and medical resources
- Ongoing academic support services
- Limitations placed on the alleged perpetrator’s ability to access certain portions of campus
- Assistance with transportation
- For complainants employed by the college, a voluntary leave of absence without potential career ramifications
Schools should use discretion and work with the complainant when deciding what measures to implement. The complainant will feel safest if they have some autonomy in deciding how they choose to utilize the school’s potential support services.
In situations where the perpetrator suffers negative consequences like forcible housing relocation or an interim suspension, the administration should have a reasonable belief in the reliability and evidence supporting the complainant’s claim