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Title IX resource page

Statement of non-discrimination

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine is committed to providing a learning and work environment free from discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, handicap, disability, marital status, veteran status or disabled veteran status, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by law.

Geisinger Commonwealth complies with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law on Sexual Violence and the Campus Sexual Violence Act (SaVE Act) provision, Section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to providing a learning and working environment that promotes integrity, civility and mutual respect free of discrimination on the basis of gender, which includes all forms of sexual misconduct. Geisinger Commonwealth considers sexual misconduct to be a serious offense and has developed policies and procedures for reporting, investigating and addressing violations of sexual misconduct including but not limited to sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, dating violence and sexual violence perpetuated by employees, students or third parties.

Title IX compliance at Geisinger Commonwealth – related policies

Sexual Misconduct (Title IX) policy: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. To ensure compliance with Title IX and other federal and state civil rights laws, Geisinger Commonwealth has developed policies and procedures that prohibits sexual misconduct in all of its forms and outlines the process for reporting, investigating and addressing violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Title IX coordinators and contact information

Inquiries or complaints concerning the application of Title IX may be referred to the school’s Title IX Coordinator, as set forth below, or the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights at ocr@ed.gov.

For complaints against employees or non-students:
Human Resources Department
Arthur Breese
Title IX Coordinator
570-808-5809
awbreese@geisinger.edu

For complaints against students:
Jackie Ghormoz
Associate Title IX Coordinator
Office of Student Affairs
Room 3007 East, MSB
570-504-9073
jghormoz@som.geisinger.edu

Additional information about Title IX, the Clery Act, VAWA (also referred to as the Campus SaVE Act) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) federal laws, referenced in this policy, can be found at the following links:

Title IX advocacy and support services

Resource advisors offer immediate support, information and referral services. In addition, resource advisors can walk you through the policy on sexual misconduct and help you understand your rights and options for reporting. They can provide ongoing support through the reporting and investigation processes, if so chosen. Resource advisors will report the nature, date, time and general location of an incident to the Title IX Coordinator, but they are not required to report name if that is your choice.

Title IX campus resources and referral options

Information about medical assistance, emergency services, advocacy and support services and academic accommodations at each campus/site.

Guidance on reporting

Any student, employee or member of the Geisinger Commonwealth community who has experienced sexual misconduct is encouraged to immediately seek help. Geisinger Commonwealth encourages all individuals to seek assistance from a medical provider and/or law enforcement immediately after an incident of sexual misconduct, whether or not the individual plans to pursue criminal action.

Geisinger Commonwealth encourages those who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct to report the incident promptly and to pursue school conduct charges and criminal prosecution of the offender. The school takes complaints very seriously and the Title IX Coordinator is prepared to work with complainants to ensure their safety and to remedy the situation. While Geisinger Commonwealth encourages all individuals to make a prompt report to the Title IX Coordinator listed here, the school recognizes that individuals may choose to make a report of sexual misconduct to other Geisinger Commonwealth employees. It should be noted that with the exception of the resource advisors listed here, all Geisinger Commonwealth employees have a responsibility for student welfare and are required to report information related to a complaint of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator who can assist with all aspects of the complaint procedure.

Title IX coordination

The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the sexual misconduct policy. The Title IX Coordinator will be informed of all reports of sexual misconduct, and will oversee the school’s centralized review, investigation and resolution of those reports to ensure the school’s compliance with Title IX and the effective implementation of this policy. The Title IX Coordinator will consult with the director of safety and security and others that “need to know” in order to implement procedures under this policy.

  • For complaints against employees or non-students:
    Arthur Breese
    Title IX Coordinator
    570-808-5809
    awbreese@geisinger.edu
  • For complaints against students:
    Jackie Ghormoz
    Title IX Coordinator
    Office of Student Affairs
    Room 3007 East, MSB
    570-504-9073
    jghormoz@som.geisinger.edu

Levels of confidentiality
The school encourages victims of sexual misconduct to talk to somebody about what happened so victims can get the support they need, and so the school can respond appropriately. Different employees on campus have different abilities to maintain a victim’s confidentiality.

Privileged communication
Some members of the Geisinger Commonwealth community are required to maintain nearly complete confidentiality; talking to them is sometimes called a “privileged communication.” Healthcare providers are considered to have “privileged communication.” Talking with someone in Student Health Services will provide this level of confidentiality. They are not required to report any information about a report of sexual misconduct without the complainant’s permission.

Resource advisors
Other Geisinger Commonwealth employees may talk to an individual in confidence, and generally only report to the school that an incident occurred without revealing any personally identifying information. Disclosures to these employees will not trigger a school investigation into an incident against the individual’s wishes. While maintaining a complainant’s confidentiality, these resource advisors should report the nature, date, time and general location of an incident to the Title IX Coordinator. This limited report – which includes no information that would directly or indirectly identify the complainant – helps keep the Title IX Coordinator informed of the general extent and nature of sexual misconduct on and off campus so the coordinator can track patterns, evaluate the scope of the problem, and formulate campus-wide responses. Before reporting any information to the Title IX Coordinator, these individuals will consult with the complainant to ensure that no personally identifying details are shared with the Title IX Coordinator. A complainant who speaks to a resource advisor must understand that, if they want to maintain confidentiality, Geisinger Commonwealth will be unable to conduct an investigation into the particular incident or pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator. Even so, these resource advisors will still assist the complainant in receiving other necessary protection and support, such as victim advocacy, academic support or accommodations, disability, health or mental health services and possible changes to educational schedules. A complainant who first requests confidentiality may later decide to file a complaint with the school or report the incident to local law enforcement, and thus have the incident fully investigated. Resource advisors will provide the complainant with assistance if the complainant wishes to do so.

Note: While resource advisors may maintain a complainant’s confidentiality vis-à-vis the school, they may have reporting or other obligations under state law, such as mandatory reporting to law enforcement in case of minors; reporting of imminent harm to self or others; and/or requirement to testify if subpoenaed in a criminal case.

Also note: If Geisinger Commonwealth determines that the alleged perpetrator(s) pose a serious and imminent threat to the school community, the director of safety and security may be called upon to issue a timely warning to the community. Any such warning should not include any information that identifies the complainant.

Resolution procedures

When filing a report of sexual misconduct and requesting that the school take action, employees and students may choose to pursue either an informal or formal procedure.

Informal procedure
In some instances, where it is deemed possible and safe and when the complainant so chooses, an informal procedure may be applied to resolve a report of sexual harassment or mistreatment. Informal procedures are never applied in cases involving non-consensual sexual intercourse or violence. If it is determined that an informal resolution may be appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator will review the procedure with the complainant. If the complainant agrees, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will speak with the respondent and any appropriate witnesses. If a satisfactory resolution is reached through this informal conversation, the matter will be considered closed. If these efforts are unsuccessful or if the complainant so chooses, a formal investigation process may commence. The informal process begins when a complaint is received by the Title IX Coordinator.

  1. Some complaints of sexual misconduct can be resolved through informal resolution between the parties.
  2. The person filing the complaint (complainant) may stop the informal process at any time. The complainant may begin the formal process at any time.
  3. Once an informal complaint of sexual misconduct is made, an investigation of the report shall be initiated by the Title IX Coordinator within ten business days and completed within 60 calendar days, absent of any extenuating circumstances.
  4. Informal resolution procedures are optional and may be used when the school determines that it is appropriate.
  5. An investigation into the report shall be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator.
  6. The informal resolution procedure shall be completed within 60 calendar days, absent of extenuating circumstances. Prompt written notification of the findings will be given to all parties by the Title IX Coordinator. The findings shall be based on the preponderance of the evidence.
  7. The school will take all necessary steps to remedy the discriminatory effects on the complainant(s) and others. Examples of such complainant sensitive remedies may include: order of no contact, adjustment of schedule, interim suspension pending the outcome of the process, etc. These remedies may be applied to one, both, or multiple parties involved. When the complainant and the accused participate in the same courses, or participate in the same activities, complainants may request that a fair and immediate way to reassign and/or move one of the persons be decided upon by the associate dean for student affairs, vice dean or a designee. The associate dean for student affairs will consult with the associate dean of curriculum in making a determination regarding an alternative classroom assignment(s) for the respondent and/or the complainant who has experienced a sex offense.
  8. The school shall take reasonable steps to prevent the recurrence of sexual misconduct in any form. If such re-occurrence takes place, those responsible for such behavior may be subject to actions under the Policy on Academic and Professional Standards if they are a student, or they may be subject to actions under the Staff and Executive Management/Faculty Handbook if they are an employee or third party. For examples of the range of potential actions and sanctions see the Policy on Academic and Professional Standards Governing the MD Program/Graduate Policy on Academic and Professional Standards and/or Staff and Executive Management/Faculty Handbook.
  9. If the reporting party is unsatisfied with the outcome of the informal resolution procedure, the formal resolution procedure may be pursued.

Formal procedure
A formal complaint of sexual misconduct can be made to the Title IX Coordinator. This complaint may be filed in place of an informal procedure or during or after an informal process is completed.

  1. Once a formal complaint of sexual misconduct is made, an investigation of the report shall be commenced within 10 business days and completed within 60 calendar days, absent of any extenuating circumstances.
  2. To ensure a prompt and thorough investigation, the complainant should provide as much of the following information as possible:
    • The name, department, and position of the person or persons allegedly causing the sexual misconduct.
    • A description of the incident(s), including the date(s), location(s) and the presence of any witnesses.
    • The names of other students or employees who might have been subject to the same or similar sexual misconduct or retaliation.
    • If appropriate, any action that has been taken to date to try to address the sexual misconduct or retaliation.
    • Any other information the complainant believes to be relevant to the sexual misconduct, or retaliation.
  3. An investigation into the report shall be conducted by a trained team of Title IX Investigators. The investigation shall be concluded as quickly as possible, typically within 60 calendar days or within a reasonable amount of time required to complete the investigation. The investigation will be conducted in a manner so that it is adequate, reliable and impartial.
  4. The complainant and the respondent may be accompanied during the course of the investigation by an advisor of their choice. Advisors are restricted from speaking during the investigation; their role is purely supportive and advisory.
  5. The investigation may include any of the following: interviews of the parties involved, including witnesses, and the gathering of other relevant information. Separate interviews will occur with the complainant and alleged respondent in order to insure the safety and security of all parties involved.
  6. Parties to the complaint may present witnesses and other evidence.
  7. At any time during the investigation, the investigators may recommend that interim protections or remedies for the parties involved or witnesses be provided by appropriate school officials. These protections or remedies may include separating the parties, placing limitations on contact between the parties, suspension, or making alternative workplace or student learning arrangements. Failure to comply with the terms of interim protections may be considered a separate violation of the Policy on Academic and Professional Standards Governing the MD, the Graduate Policy on Academic and Professional Standards or the Staff and Executive Management/Faculty Handbook.
  8. The school shall take reasonable steps to prevent the recurrence of sexual misconduct or retaliation in any form. If the re-occurrence takes place, those responsible for such behavior may be subject to disciplinary action under the Policy on Academic and Professional Standards governing the MD Program and/or Graduate Policy on Academic and Professional Standards or Staff and Executive Management/Faculty Handbook if the person is an employee or third party. For examples of the range of potential disciplinary sanctions see the Policy on Academic and Professional Standards Governing the MD, the Graduate Policy on Academic and Professional Standards and the Staff and Executive Management/Faculty Handbook.
  9. At the conclusion of the investigation a full report of findings, as well as a recommendation for disposition, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, shall be rendered to the vice dean for final decision and action if the respondent is a student, or to the vice president for finance and administration/vice dean if the respondent is an employee/faculty member, based on the preponderance of evidence. Parties involved will be given simultaneous notice, in writing, of the conclusion of the investigation and any next steps.
  10. In cases involving students, the investigation team will compile a comprehensive report and, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, either make a recommendation for sanctions that will be referred to the vice dean for review and disposition or, determine that, based on the outcome of the investigation, there was no finding of violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Policy on Academic and Professional Standards Governing the MD Program Program or Graduate Policy on Academic and Professional Standards. In cases involving staff, human resources will review the investigation team’s report and recommendation for sanctions which will be referred to the vice president for finance and administration for review and disposition or, determine that, based on the outcome of the Investigation, that there was no finding of violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct or Staff and Executive Management Handbook. In cases involving faculty, the investigative team's report will be sent to the vice dean for review and disposition, or, determine that, based on the outcome of the investigation, that there was no finding of violation of the Policy on Sexual Misconduct or Faculty Handbook. Sanctions may include but are not limited to censure, disciplinary probation, counseling, educational experiences, community service, no contact directive, no trespass directives, suspension or expulsion from the school or corrective action up to and including discharge.
  11. Geisinger Commonwealth will take all necessary steps to remedy the discriminatory effects on the complainant(s) and others falling within the scope of this policy, as set forth in the “Scope” section. Examples of such remedies may include, but are not limited to: order of no contact, classroom re-assignment or other appropriate remedies.

Statement of complainant rights

Policy on sexual misconduct (Title IX)
Geisinger Commonwealth recognizes that sexual misconduct is an offense in which the complainant often feels powerless. Geisinger Commonwealth assures those individuals making reports that they have the following rights:

  1. The complainant will have the power to make decisions affecting his or her medical and emotional treatment.
  2. The complainant will have control over making decisions pursuing legal prosecution.
  3. The complainant will decide who is notified outside the protocol established by the school.
  4. The complainant will receive support from the school in obtaining needed counseling or other support, including access to victim advocate services in the community.
  5. The complainant will be aided by the school in obtaining a learning environment that is safe and secure, including filing for a No Contact Order and/or requesting academic accommodations as needed.
  6. The complainant will be assured of confidentiality within the protocol followed by the school.
  7. The complainant will have the right to: Have an advisor of their choice during any Geisinger Commonwealth investigative or appeal proceeding (advisors, however, are restricted from speaking during investigative or appeal proceedings – their role is purely supportive and advisory); Not have prior sexual history discussed during the investigation; Have a complainant impact statement entered as testimony; Be informed of the outcome.

Statement of respondent’s rights

Sexual misconduct policy (Title IX)
The respondent will have the right to notice of violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy made against them including the name of the person initiating the action, as well as the date, time, and location of the investigative meetings where responsibility will be determined.

  1. The respondent will receive support from the school in obtaining needed counseling or other support, including referral to the appropriate community agencies.
  2. The respondent will be aided by the school in obtaining a learning environment that is safe and secure.
  3. The respondent will be assured of the confidentiality within the protocol followed by the school.
  4. The respondent will have the right to have an advisor of their choice during any Geisinger Commonwealth investigative or appeal proceeding (advisors, however, are restricted from speaking during investigative or appeal proceedings – their role is purely supportive and advisory);
  5. The respondent has the right to be informed of the outcome.

Definitions

The following definitions are applicable to sexual misconduct (Title IX) policy.