Referring a Case of Discriminatory Harassment, a Hate Crime, or a Bias Incident

American University is a diverse campus community committed to supporting all of its community members and their unique identities. Acts of discriminatory harassment may be addressed through Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services. This page details information that may be particularly relevant when reporting such incidents. Most of the information here applies to any report of a policy violation and exceptions to this are noted. General information on referring a case is available on the Referring a Case to Student Conduct page. Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services encourages reporting of such violations. We are available to meet with individuals who are considering referring a case.  

 

How do I refer a case?

For the general details of referring a case with Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services, please visit the "Referring a Case" page on the website or call us (202-885-3328) to make an appointment to discuss the incident. We're available to go over the process individually and in person. 

What if I do not know who committed the violation? 

To move forward with submitting a Student Conduct Case Referral Form, you should have some evidence that indicates that an AU student or AU student group may have committed a violation. If you do not have any knowledge of who committed the violation, you can still meet with our office (or other offices such as Housing and Dining, the Dean of Student Life office, and the Counseling Center) to discuss available resources or next steps. 

 

Can I submit evidence with my case?

Yes, you may submit photographs, emails, and other evidence. If evidence includes an illegal and/or dangerous item (i.e. drugs, weapon, etc), that should be turned over to AU Public Safety for appropriate storage. Photos can be submitted as attachments. You can also take a "screenshot" of any computer-based evidence. If you have questions about evidence, please contact the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services office. 

What if the evidence no longer exists (writing on a wall, online postings, etc)?

It still may be possible for charges to be submitted.  If you are in a position where evidence no longer exists, it is advised that you contact the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services office. 

Does the person who I make the complaint about have to know it came from me?

The Student Conduct Code guarantees that a respondent (student who allegedly violated policy) has a right "to hear and respond to evidence upon which a charge is based." The identity of the person filing the case is often important information for the charges. There are a variety of ways to reduce contact between the person who makes the complaint (complainant) and the person who allegedly violated policy (respondent). If Public Safety, Housing and Dining, or another university official responds to the incident, they may be able to file a complaint and serve as the complainant. Additionally, it may be appropriate to request a barring of contact from the Dean of Students Office.  

 

Do I have to talk to the respondent (person who allegedly violated policy)?

You are not required to speak directly to the respondent in the disciplinary process. If the case is resolved in a Disciplinary Conference (where suspension, expulsion, and removal from housing are not possible outcomes), a complainant is not present during the Disciplinary Conference. If the case is resolved in a disciplinary hearing (disciplinary hearings occur when suspension, expulsion, and removal from housing are possible outcomes), the complainant needs to be present, but is not required to speak to the respondent. If you serve as a witness, you are not required to directly speak to the respondent. 

Communication in a disciplinary hearing can be directed through the Hearing Administrator. The Student Conduct office can provide visual barriers in the hearing room. There are other options available if people do not want to be in the same room with each other. If this is of concern, please contact the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services office.

If the case is referred to be resolved in a disciplinary hearing, do I have to see the respondent (person who allegedly violated policy)?

A visual barrier can be placed in the hearing room by the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services office.  Witnesses who are not available to be present during a disciplinary hearing may submit a written statement. 

We are also available to discuss additional alternatives with parties involved.

 

If the case is referred to a disciplinary hearing, can anyone else come with me for support or advice?

During the hearing, the complainant (person who submitted the Student Conduct Case Referral Form) can bring one advisor. The advisor must be a current AU student, faculty, or staff member and cannot speak for the complainant or serve as legal counsel. Witnesses cannot bring anyone with them (unless there are disability or interpretation needs), but the person who asked them to appear will be in the room while they are presenting information.

 

How long do I have to file the incident report?

A written complaint must be filed with the director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services within 15 days (excluding weekends, official university holidays, winter and spring breaks) of the occurrence or discovery of the alleged infraction(s). The deadline for filing a case will also be extended if there is an alleged violation of the university’s discrimination and discriminatory harassment policy, sexual discrimination and harassment policy, whistleblower policy, or a Conduct Code violation involving rape, sexual assault, or
stalking. In such cases, the complainant will have one year from
the date of discovery to file a complaint as set forth in these
policies.Requests for extensions to these deadlines may be submitted in writing to conduct@american.edu.  

Will Student Conduct keep me informed of the status of the case?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (commonly referred to as "FERPA") is a federal law that guarantees the general confidentiality of an individual student's educational records, including disciplinary files. The Student Conduct office can only share information under very specific circumstances, which are exceptions to FERPA's general ban on such information sharing. If the case is resolved through mediation or a disciplinary hearing, the complainant will be informed of that resolution method (not necessarily the resolution itself) because they will be needed to participate. Additionally, if a case alleges a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense as defined by the Clery Campus Safety Act, then we can disclose the outcome to the victim(s) of the crime.  

 

Can I help decide the outcome of the case?

If the case is referred to a hearing and if the respondent (person who allegedly violated policy) is found responsible for any charges, the complainant will have an opportunity to recommend sanctioning.  If you are serving as a witness, you can share your thoughts on sanctions with the complainant.   If you believe there are specific outcomes that would benefit your health and safety, you should share those with our office, as some (such as a no contact order) can be facilitated separately from disciplinary proceedings.  

 

Should I file a case with Student Conduct or through the court system?

This is a personal and complicated decision and should be considered in light of the specifics of a case. Cases may be referred to the courts and the University discipline system simultaneously. We are available to provide information on the AU student conduct process.  We recommend that you consult an attorney to learn about the court process.   There are many significant differences between the campus discipline system and the court system that could influence this decision. Some of the differences include: the standard of proof, the amount of time that it takes to resolve a case, how records are shared, and the roles of the participants.