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U. to conduct Title IX investigations remotely, despite COVID-19

<p>McCosh Health Center houses University Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CPS) as well as the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources (SHARE) office.</p>
<h6>Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian</h6>

McCosh Health Center houses University Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CPS) as well as the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources (SHARE) office.

Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

The University plans to conduct Title IX investigations remotely, as the COVID-19 pandemic has all but emptied campus.

According to the University’s Sexual Misconduct Investigations website, the Title IX office and the Office of Gender Equity will remain open throughout the spring semester. “Anyone impacted by sexual misconduct and/or sex or gender discrimination/harassment” is encouraged to make a report or seek resources. 

Deputy University Spokesperson Mike Hotchkiss stated in an email to The Daily Princetonian that interviews pertaining to investigations would be held through Zoom or a similar platform. 

“Even before the COVID-19 situation, we have had the ability to conduct Title IX investigations remotely using video technology such as Zoom,” he wrote. “In fact, we have done so in several previous investigations in which parties or witnesses were not available in person (for example, during breaks or while an individual was studying abroad). We believe that we have been able to do so with sufficient care to fully maintain the fairness and legitimacy of the process.” 

In recent weeks, many observers have raised concerns about the security and privacy of Zoom. Arvind Narayanan, an associate professor of computer science at the University, said that the service “is malware.” Nonetheless, Hotchkiss emphasized that care is being taken “to safeguard the privacy of the parties and integrity of the process” during remote investigations. 

The University’s mental health resources, including Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) and the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, and Education office (SHARE), will also remain open through the pandemic. Both CPS and SHARE are able to assist all students via telehealth.

“Parties continue to be supported by advisers throughout the Title IX process, including during interviews and meetings,” Hotchkiss continued. “Confidential Resources such as SHARE and CPS continue to provide support to individuals, and individuals continue to have access to other means of support, including accommodations, No Communication and No Contact Orders, etc.”

To make a telehealth appointment with CPS, students may visit their myUHS portal or call 609-258-3141.

Students have many options for reporting, including by email, online, or by phone. In addition, those seeking anonymity may report via the EthicsPoint hotline

“The evidence most commonly submitted in sexual misconduct investigations is electronic evidence, including messages (texts, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.), emails, photographs, and videos,” noted Hotchkiss.

He added, “Should evidence that is currently unavailable be relevant, the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration will work with the parties to make appropriate arrangements.”

Princeton Title IX Reform (PIXR), a student organization dedicated to activism around the Title IX process, declined to comment on the remote investigation policy.

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