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Binghamton University Title IX: What is Covered by Policy and Statute

Understanding “Covered Conduct” in the Title IX Context

Knowing what is considered “covered conduct” is important as it pertains to Title IX at any New York State college or university including SUNY Binghamton. Any form of sexual harassment – spoken words, pictures, violent actions and everything in between – whether it took place on campus or off, is considered “covered conduct” by the University. Binghamton University's consideration of these matters should occur without regard to, belief of, perception about, or actual sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression. Simply, whether you are a victim accuser or a defendant accused, it is imperative to recognize that the long arm of Title IX can extend well beyond what occurs in a dorm – Newing, Dickinson, Mountainview or CIW – or classroom. While its not likely you will consult with a Title IX attorney prior to having a need to do so, understanding “covered conduct” is invaluable to your case on either side of the investigative process.

Beyond the examples provided by SUNY Binghamton, “covered conduct” extends beyond these clear definitions and can include any conduct which “is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the school's program based on sex" regardless of the various other factors taken into consideration by the policy. Binghamton University encourages any individual who feels they have experienced, witnessed, or even heard about an event that appears covered under Title IX umbrella, current or past, to report the matter. In that regard, the University allows individuals to make a report privately, confidentially, or anonymously and the school has set forth a simple guide to in how to do so. While it may seem aggressive and lead to overreporting unwarranted violations of Title IX, Binghamton explicitly encourages students and staff to notify the school and law enforcement with the goal of creating a safer and discriminatory-free environment for everyone in the school community now and in the future.

Understanding “Affirmative Consent” in a Sexual Violence, Harassment or Other Violation

Should you need clear definition on any behaviors that run afoul of Title IX, you can refer to the school's Code of Student Conduct. This policy paper outlines stalking, sexual harassment, rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and other actions that are both improper and can result in sanctions. As a member of the Binghamton University community, you should be sure to clearly understand “affirmative consent,” as it plays a major role in Title IX matters wherever they may occur on or off campus. A thorough understanding of affirmative consent is critical to understanding what is prohibited, how to avoid violating the policies and whether you have a remedy as a victim. In fact, it is central to student life at SUNY Binghamton that the University provides a flow chart to help individuals understand “affirmative consent.” Certainly helpful, there are a near infinite number of particular circumstances that can come to pass, and an attorney experienced in this area is a vital resource to better grasp improper and actionable conduct from that which may seem improper but in fact be acceptable.

Private Versus Confidential Reporting of Title IX Infractions

The essence of Title IX is that an institution may not exclude, separate, deny benefits to or otherwise treat differently any person on the basis of sex. When reporting confidentially, Binghamton states that what you discuss with a University Title IX coordinator is not shared with anyone at the University or outside it. The only time confidentially may be broken is if the information a person provides presents an imminent concern for safety. Binghamton offers on-campus resources including health and counseling services as well as the University Ombudsman. Off-campus resources are usually healthcare and mental health service providers.

When making a private report, the person/office you report to is required to disclose what the student or employee tells them to the school's Title IX Coordinator. The University may not be able to guarantee confidentiality, but they do claim to aim to maintain privacy as best as they can. Only the pertinent details provided to a non-confidential resource are shared with the Title IX Coordinator to enable him or her to investigate and potentially seek a resolution. Private resources include Binghamton University Police, SUNY Binghamton Case Management, the Dean of Students and most other employees of the school.

Typically, after a complaint is lodged, reports are investigated in accordance with the University's policy and a reporting individual's identity will remain private throughout the investigation if the reporting individual wishes to maintain this personal secrecy. It is important to know how exactly to request this level of privacy and confidentiality from the school, as the request arguably must be explicit. Again, if you find yourself in such a predicament, discuss your options with a legal advocate knowledgeable about Title IX matters in the SUNY system.

Remember, there is a sharp difference between reporting an incident and simply making it public. If a student or other complainant decides to share or disclose information through a public forum, such as a public awareness event, social media, protest, or other public event, the institution is no longer obligated to begin an investigation based on information put forward in that public forum. Instead, Binghamton University may decide to use the information provided at a public event to inform its efforts for additional education and prevention, but it is critical to understand that they are not required to open a case on the matter. If, on the other hand, the complainant decides to also lodge a formal Title IX complaint, the school will operate under its normal policies in that regard.

It is inconsequential what side of the Title IX process you find yourself because there are policies that all parties must adhere to. Have a firm understanding of your rights, what actions you can or cannot take, who is covered by Title IX and the nature of the conduct that will give rise to a response by and from SUNY Binghamton’s Title IX Coordinator and investigators as well as Campus Police, Binghamton Police and the Broome County District Attorney.

Remain diligent and prepared, informed and knowledgeable. Retain the best counsel to articulate how you are a victim of a Title IX violation or why you have not violated any policy or criminal law. With the Title IX legal counsel, former Manhattan prosecutors, victim advocates and criminal lawyers at Saland Law standing by your side, securing the protections you need from the University or defending your name, education rights in a school or criminal proceeding are all within grasp.

Call our New York criminal defense attorneys, Title IX and disciplinary hearing lawyers at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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