An individual, preferably after consultation with the Title VI Coordinator or a Mediation Advocate, may file a formal complaint against a member of the Seminary community alleging a violation of the Seminary’s Title VI and Non-Discrimination Policy. A complainant may proceed directly with filing a formal complaint regardless of whether she/he utilizes the informal resolution procedure set forth above.

There are two procedures by which a Complainant may pursue a formal complaint:

  • Formal Grievance Procedure through the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator
  • Hearing Panel Formal Procedure.

The choice of which formal procedure to utilize lies solely with the Complainant. The Title VI Coordinator or Mediation Advocate with whom the Complainant is working can provide the Complainant with information to assist her/him in making the choice as to which formal procedure to proceed under. The Complainant may only make this choice once, however, and once a formal procedure has commenced the Complainant waives the right to proceed under the other formal procedure.

  1. Formal Grievance Procedure through the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator.
    1. A formal grievance process through the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator is initiated when a complainant submits a written statement alleging discrimination prohibited by Title VI to the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator. In the statement, the complainant is encouraged to request any relief sought from the Seminary. Prompt submission of formal grievances is encouraged.   Complaints should be addressed to: The Reverend Victor Aloyo, Jr., Title VI Coordinator, Princeton Theological Seminary, Templeton Hall, Suite 201 email: TitleIX.Coordinator@ptsem.edu, phone: 609.688.1943. In the event that the Title VI Coordinator has served as the representative of the Seminary in the informal process, the formal grievance should instead be submitted to the Deputy Title VI Coordinator.
    2. If the grievance is not voluntarily dismissed within three (3) days, the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator will interview the individual who submitted the written statement. Depending on the circumstances, the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator also may interview others with relevant knowledge, review documentary materials, and take any other appropriate action to gather and consider information relevant to the grievance.
    3. The Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator will determine whether the complainant was excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination on the basis of age, ethnicity, race, color gender, sexual orientation, disability, military status, or national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, using a preponderance of the evidence standard. The Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator will consult with other Seminary offices as necessary in reaching a decision regarding the written grievance.
    4. The respondent is notified of the complaint. Absent unusual circumstances, within 5 calendar days of a complaint being filed, the Office of Multicultural Relations will notify the respondent that a complaint of discrimination has been filed against him/her. The respondent shall be provided with a copy of the complaint, disclosure of all material facts relevant to the complaint, and an opportunity to respond orally or in writing to the written complaint. The respondent is to be provided with ongoing disclosure of the particulars of the complaint as they become known. No information regarding the complaint will be given to any party unless the respondent has been notified of the complaint.
    5. For reasons of confidentiality, the notification will be mailed to the respondent’s home address by certified mail so that only the respondent can sign for it personally, unless the respondent is a student who resides on campus.
    6. While the time it may take to investigate and resolve a Title VI grievance will depend on a variety of factors, including the nature and scope of the allegations, the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator will seek to resolve the grievance within 15 working days of receipt of the grievance. Throughout the process, the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator will, as appropriate, keep the participants informed of the status of the grievance process. In connection with this resolution, the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator will prepare a written report setting forth findings, conclusions, and actions to be taken, if any, will deliver it to the complainant and respondent, and will also determine with whom else to share the report.
    7. Following the issuance of the written report, the Title VI Coordinator will, if warranted and needed, take appropriate action to ensure that the Seminary comes into compliance with Title VI in a manner which is prompt and equitable to the involved parties. For example, the Title VI Coordinator may assure that appropriate changes to housing, academic programs or working conditions are implemented.       While the action taken by the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator may impact third parties, such action is not intended to be punitive (or constitute disciplinary penalty) with respect to these third parties.
    8. The decision of the Seminary’s Title VI Coordinator is the final resolution of the grievance. The Title VI Coordinator’s written report concerning Student-on-Student Discrimination shall be submitted to the Vice President of Student Relations and Dean of Student Life. When final resolution concerns other members of the Seminary community such as administration, support staff, and/or faculty, the Title VI Coordinator’s written report shall be submitted to the appropriate member of the Executive Council. In addition, a copy of the Title VI Coordinator’s written report shall also be provided to the President.
    9. Within 14 days of the date that the Title VI Coordinator delivers the written report to the complainant and respondent, any party that wishes to appeal the decision of the Title VI Coordinator regarding remedial measures may do so by delivering a written appeal of such decision to the President.
    10. Where a timely appeal of the Title VI Coordinator’s decision is made to the President, the President will review the written report, as well as any written responses to the report provided by the parties. During this review, the President, in his or her sole discretion, may also consult with the Title VI Coordinator regarding the claim.
    11. The President’s review shall be limited to two areas of consideration. First, the President will review the Title VI Coordinator’s written report to determine if the Title VI Coordinator exhibited bias against one of the parties during the hearing, or if the procedures established by this policy were violated in any material respect during the hearing. In the event that the President finds bias or a violation of the procedures established in this policy, the President may, in his sole discretion, vacate the recommendations in the report and either (i) remand the case to a different Title VI Coordinator or a Mediation Advocate for further proceedings, or (ii) order a new investigation to be handled by the Chair of the Hearing Panel. Second, the President will also review any recommended penalty that might be contained in the written report under appeal in the context of any special circumstances raised by either party that the President believes are relevant to the recommended penalty that included in the report.
    12. The purpose of the President’s review of the Title VI Coordinator’s written report is not to initiate a rehearing of substantive issues of fact or a new determination of responsibility. Rather, the President’s review will be limited to the issues of bias and procedure as set forth above. Furthermore, the President shall have the authority to modify, at the President’s sole discretion, any penalty recommended by the Title VI Coordinator.
    13. After the President has completed this review process, the President shall render a final and binding decision in writing in connection with the complaint.       This decision shall be based upon the President’s review of the record; the recommendations, findings, and conclusions of the Title VI Coordinator; the responses of the Complainant and the Respondent; any prior history of complaints against the Respondent; pertinent Seminary policies, regulations, and procedures; and applicable law.
    14. Within fourteen (14) days of the date of the delivery of the Title VI Coordinator’s written report to him or her, the President shall communicate in writing his or her final and binding decision to the Complainant, the Respondent, and the Title VI Coordinator. This decision shall also be placed in the permanent records of the Title VI Coordinator and a reference to the decision shall be placed in the file of both the Complainant and Respondent.
  2. Hearing Panel Formal Procedure.
    1. Under the Hearing Panel Formal Procedure, the Complainant must deliver to the Chair a written complaint outlining the alleged incident(s) of discrimination. The Complainant may ask the Title VI Coordinator or a Mediation Advocate for assistance in preparing this written complaint. The written complaint should set forth with specificity the circumstances and nature of the alleged discrimination. It is important that the complaint be as specific and detailed as possible under the circumstances, as it will constitute the grounds upon which a subsequent investigation and hearing will be conducted.
    2. Once the written complaint is delivered to the Chair, the following steps will ensue. The Chair may increase any of the deadlines which follow due to the timing of the complaint in the academic year or for other good cause.[1]

    3. Within five (5) days of receipt of the written complaint from the Complainant, the Chair will advise the Respondent that a proceeding against him or her pursuant to the Hearing Panel Formal Procedure has been commenced. At that time, the Chair will also provide the Respondent with a copy of the complaint.
    4. Within seven (7) days of receipt of the written complaint from the Chair, the Respondent may provide a written response to the Chair. The Respondent may ask a Mediation Advocate for assistance in preparing this response. The Respondent is not required to provide the Chair with a written response to the complaint. In the event that a written response is provided, however, the Chair will, within five (5) days of its receipt, provide a copy of the response to the Complainant.
    5. Within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the written complaint from the Complainant, the Chair will appoint from the Non-Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Panel a presiding member and two additional members to constitute a Hearing Committee Panel to hear the matter. If possible, the Chair will appoint to the Committee one member from each Constituency to which the Complainant and the Respondent belong. If no Hearing Committee Panel member is able to serve from the Constituency of the Complainant or the Respondent, the Chair may appoint such other Hearing Committee Panel member or members as the Chair deems appropriate to serve on the Committee. The presiding member of the Committee will be chosen by the Chair and may be from any Constituency. If a conflict of interest or other valid reason prevents a Hearing Committee Panel member from serving on the Committee, the Chair shall select a substitute from the Hearing Committee Panel.
    6. Within five (5) days of the appointment of the Committee, the Chair will provide the Complainant and the Respondent with written notification of the names of the persons serving on the Committee.
    7. Within five (5) days of receipt of notice of the composition of the Committee, the Complainant and/or the Respondent may file a written objection with the Chair regarding the service of any Committee member. Any such objection must set forth the specific reason(s) that the objection is being made. After reviewing such objection, the Chair may or may not, at his or her sole discretion, replace any member of the Committee with another member of the Hearing Committee Panel. If the Chair does replace a member, steps 4 and 5 shall be repeated.
    8. Following receipt of the written complaint and any response that might be submitted, the Chair will conduct an investigation of the allegations that have been made and will gather information to be used by the Hearing Committee Panel during the hearing procedure. In the course of investigating the allegations and gathering information, the Chair shall interview the Complainant and the Respondent, and shall review the permanent file of the Hearing Committee Panel to determine if there are any previous complaints under this policy that have been filed against the Respondent. In addition, the Chair may interview any other person whom the Chair believes might be in possession of relevant information; may consult Seminary records bearing on the matter; and may gather such other statements, documents, or material as he or she may deem appropriate. The Chair shall make every effort to complete this investigation and to submit a written report containing his or her factual findings to the Committee within thirty (30) days of the Chair’s receipt of the written complaint from the Complainant.
    9. The Complainant and the Respondent are expected to cooperate with the Chair in this investigation to the extent of answering pertinent questions and supplying or authorizing the release of relevant information when so requested. When this cooperation is denied, the Chair shall so inform the Committee, providing where possible his or her understanding of the reasons therefor. Furthermore, should either the Complainant or the Respondent refuse to participate and/or cooperate with the Chair’s investigation, the Committee shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to bar that party from presenting testimony or evidence at the hearing.
    10. Every effort shall be made to have the Committee schedule a hearing in connection with the matter within thirty (30) days after the Chair has submitted his or her investigative report and supporting documentation to the Committee.
    11. At the hearing, the Complainant and the Respondent shall present their respective positions without reference to any prior proceeding, including, without limitation, any prior proceedings related to this complaint under this policy, and no reference to the discussions, findings, or recommendations related to any prior proceeding shall be introduced to the Committee by the Complainant and/or the Respondent.
    12. In conducting the hearing, the Committee is not required to adhere strictly to the rules of evidence. The Committee shall receive and review the complaint, the response, the report of the Chair, and other pertinent statements and documents. As set forth above, the Committee may also review information that it receives from the Chair related to materials contained in the permanent file of the Hearing Committee Panel related to any previous complaints under this policy that have been filed by or against the Complainant and/or Respondent, and the Committee may, at its sole discretion, ask questions of either party that include references to such information. The Committee shall also interview the Complainant, the Respondent, as well as any other witnesses it deems relevant and necessary. The parties shall be afforded an opportunity to respond to one another’s statements and to present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf.
    13. Separation of Complainant and Respondent – The Complainant and the Respondent will not be required to give their statements in the physical presence of each other, and will not be required to appear together at the hearing.
    14. Right to Hear Proceedings – Both the Complainant and the Respondent have the right to listen to all testimony provided during the hearing from a separate location. The Seminary shall provide the parties with sufficient facilities to listen to such proceedings via electronic means including, without limitation, telephone, speaker phone, internet broadcast or any other means that the Hearing Committee, in its sole discretion, deems reasonable.
    15. The Complainant and the Respondent are expected to cooperate with the Committee in conducting the hearing. Such cooperation shall include, without limitation, appearing before the Committee to give testimony and answer questions that the Committee might have. When this cooperation is denied, the Committee shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to disregard the written statements of the party that has refused to cooperate with the Committee in reaching its conclusions in connection with the claim.
    16. The Complainant and the Respondent may each be accompanied by a personal adviser, other than a family member, of their choosing. The Hearing Committee Formal Procedure is designed with the intent that legal counsel need not be involved with the hearing. Should any party decide to retain legal counsel for this purpose, however, he or she shall notify the Chair at least fourteen (14) days before the hearing so that the other party may take this fact into account when making his or her plans. Legal counsel at the hearing may confer with their clients but will not be permitted to address the Committee or others.
    17. When, in the sole judgment of the Committee, the Complainant and the Respondent have been fully heard, the parties and witnesses shall be excused and the Committee shall deliberate and reach a conclusion by majority vote. In determining whether or not a complaint of sexual misconduct has been sustained, the Committee shall look at the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of the action and the context in which the alleged misconduct occurred. The determination of a suitable penalty shall be made on a case-by-case basis in light of all relevant facts and circumstances, which may include, without limitation, any prior history of complaints against the Respondent. The Committee may consult with the following relevant Seminary officials when devising an appropriate penalty or resolution: the Dean of Student Affairs where the Respondent is a student; the Dean of Academic Affairs where the Respondent is a faculty member; or the Senior Vice President or Director of Human Resources where the Respondent is a staff member.
    18. Within fourteen (14) days of the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee shall issue a written report of the hearing, consisting of the Committee’s findings of fact, conclusions, and recommended disposition based on the record (“Hearing Report”). In determining its recommended disposition, the Committee will consider, by way of example and not limitation, the facts of the particular claim, any prior history of complaints against the Respondent, pertinent Seminary policies, regulations, and procedures, and applicable law. Once issued, the Hearing Report will be maintained by the Hearing Committee Panel in its permanent records.
    19. Within five (5) days of issuance of the Hearing Report, the Committee shall deliver a copy of the Hearing Report to the Complainant and to the Respondent. The parties shall then have fourteen (14) days to give the presiding member of the Committee written notice that they do or do not accept the Committee’s recommendations.
    20. Within twenty-one (21) days of the date of issuance of the Hearing Report, the presiding member of the Committee will present the Hearing Report, together with the Complainant’s and the Respondent’s written responses, if any, to the President.
    21. If neither the Complainant nor the Respondent has filed written responses to the Hearing Report, the President shall render a final and binding decision in writing implementing the recommendations of the Hearing Committee contained in the Hearing Report.
    22. If either the Complainant or the Respondent has filed a timely written response to the Hearing Report, upon receipt of all materials from the presiding member of the Committee the President will review the Hearing Report, as well as any written responses to the report provided by the parties. During this review, the President, in his or her sole discretion, may also consult with the Chair and/or the presiding member of the Committee regarding the claim.
    23. The President’s review shall be limited to two areas of consideration. First, the President will review the Hearing Report to determine if the Committee exhibited bias against one of the parties during the hearing, or if the procedures established by this policy were violated in any material respect during the hearing. In the event that the President finds bias or a violation of the procedures established in this policy, the President may, in his sole discretion, vacate the Committee’s recommendations and either (i) remand the case to the Committee for further proceedings, or (ii) order a new hearing before a new Committee. Second, the President will also review any recommended penalty that might be contained in the Hearing Report in the context of any special circumstances raised by either party that the President believes are relevant to the recommended penalty that the Committee has included in the Hearing Report.
    24. The purpose of the President’s review of the Hearing Report is not to initiate a rehearing of substantive issues of fact or a new determination of responsibility. Rather, the President’s review will be limited to the issues of bias and procedure as set forth above. Furthermore, the President shall have the authority to modify, at the President’s sole discretion, any penalty recommended by the Committee. After the President has completed this review process, the President shall render a final and binding decision in writing in connection with the complaint. This decision shall be based upon the President’s review of the record; the recommendations, findings, and conclusions of the Committee; the responses of the Complainant and the Respondent; any prior history of complaints against the Respondent; pertinent Seminary policies, regulations, and procedures; and applicable law.
    25. Within fourteen (14) days of the date of the delivery of the Hearing Report to him or her, the President shall communicate his or her final and binding decision to the Complainant, the Respondent, the presiding member of the Committee that heard the complaint, and the Chair. This decision shall also be placed in the permanent records of the Title VI Coordinator and a reference to the decision shall be placed in the file of both the Complainant and Respondent.

[1]   A timeline and summary of the following Hearing Committee Formal Procedures is attached hereto as Appendix A.