If you make a report of prohibited conduct to the university, the university’s Office of Title IX will work with you to evaluate your care and support needs and discuss your options under university policy. Reporting prohibited conduct to the university empowers you to obtain the care and support you need and enables the university to respond appropriately, including conducting a prompt, thorough, and equitable investigation and, if warranted, taking disciplinary action against a respondent.
The university recognizes that your decision on how to proceed after reporting an incident is a process that may unfold over time; thus, at the time a report is made to the university, you do not have to decide whether to request or choose any particular course of action. Regardless of which course of action you choose, the university will provide you with care and support even if the university ability to investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary or other remedial action is limited.
Title IX Process
Office of Title IX receives report
from complainant, mandatory reporter, residence hall, police, etc.
Office of Title IX reaches out
to the complainant to offer support and options.
Request for limited action
(support and interim measures)
Report to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
Report to law enforcement
University Support and Interim Measures
After you report the incident to the university, the university can support you in a variety of ways:
- Informing you of your rights under the university’s Title IX grievance procedures
- Issuing a no-contact directive to the respondent, which prohibits the respondent from having verbal, physical, or written contact with you for a definite or indefinite period of time
- Providing medical and counseling services
- Assisting you in reporting an incident to law enforcement, if you want to report the incident
- Exploring changes in living and working arrangements
- Arranging appointments with follow-up services on or off campus (for example, an appointment with the Knoxville Family Justice Center to discuss options for pursuing an order of protection in Knox County Fourth Circuit Court)
- Exploring changes in class schedules, including adjustments so that you and the respondent do not share the same classes
- Assisting you in communicating with faculty
- Providing academic support, including tutoring
- Exploring the options of retaking a course, dropping a course, or withdrawing for a semester without penalty
These support services are available to you even if you do not want to report the incident to UTPD or the Knoxville Police Department.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Confidentiality and privacy are uniquely different. Confidentiality is limited to someone who, by law, can keep information confidential. Information communicated to Title IX or other mandatory reporters will be kept private and shared only with university employees who need to be involved in responding to or addressing a report. For more detailed information, call the Office of Title IX.
The Student Counseling Center and Student Health Center are the primary designated confidential resources who can talk with you about supports and options.
Other university employees who are not confidential resources will protect the privacy of your report to the maximum extent possible under the circumstances and share the information you reported only within the limited circle of university employees who need to be involved in responding to the report.
If you report an incident of prohibited conduct to the university, you have the right to:
- Request that your name not be disclosed to the respondent
- Request that the university not investigate the incident further or pursue disciplinary action against the respondent
- Decline to participate in a university investigation or disciplinary proceeding
- Decline to disclose the identity of the respondent to the university
The university (typically the Title IX coordinator) will evaluate a request that your name not be disclosed to the respondent or a request that the university not investigate the incident further or pursue disciplinary action against the respondent. If the university honors such a request, then the university’s ability to respond fully to the incident (e.g., to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the respondent or take other remedial action) may be limited.
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA, personally identifiable information concerning a student report to a university official who is not a law enforcement officer (for example, to the Office of Title IX) will not be disclosed to third parties outside the university without the consent of the student except in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or as otherwise required or allowed by law.
If during a university investigation of misconduct a respondent makes a request to review documents concerning the investigation, FERPA requires that the university grant the student’s request to inspect and review records that relate specifically to him or her, but the university will redact the complainant’s name and any other identifying information to the maximum extent possible. In addition, after the university has formally charged a student or employee with violating university policy, the respondent will have a due process right to be informed of the nature of the allegations against him or her, including the identity of the person who accused him or her of misconduct.
In contrast to a report to a university administrative official, incident reports prepared by UTPD for law enforcement purposes are generally considered public records under the Tennessee Public Records Act and are not protected by FERPA, which means they will be made available to any Tennessee citizen upon request unless the report is part of an ongoing criminal investigation. In addition, the UTPD is required by federal law to report the occurrence of certain crimes on campus, including sex offenses, in an annual report of crime statistics, but the report does not contain any personally identifiable information. The UTPD is also required by federal law to issue timely warnings for certain crimes that represent serious or continuing threats to the safety of students or employees, but such warnings do not contain any personally identifiable information.
The University of Tennessee and Title IX prohibit retaliation against anyone who reports sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct. The university will take reasonable steps to prevent retaliation and will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs.
If you were using alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the incident, the university does not want that to keep you from reporting. The university will not pursue disciplinary charges against you for personal consumption of alcohol or other drugs.
We hope you will decide to report the incident to the police. While there is no way to change what has happened, you have the right to seek justice but the decision to report or not to report is yours to make. You are not legally obligated to report.
If you visit the emergency room and tell the nurse you have been sexually assaulted, the hospital will generally perform a sexual assault forensic examination. This involves collecting evidence—such as hairs, fluids, and fibers—and preserving the evidence for forensic analysis. If you think you might want to pursue prosecution but are still unsure, we recommend that you make the police report right away while the evidence is still present and your memory is detailed. If you choose not to make a police report at that time, the medical provider will provide the examination materials to local law enforcement with a unique identifying number that will also be provided to you. The law enforcement agency with jurisdiction will store the examination materials for up to three years. If in that time you decide to make a police report, you may report to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction and refer to the unique identifying number so that your examination materials may be matched up with your police report for evidentiary purposes.
The district attorney will decide whether to pursue prosecution; however, it is unusual for cases to proceed without the cooperation of the victim. Reporting the incident to law enforcement does not obligate you to cooperate with the district attorney’s criminal prosecution. If prosecution is pursued, the chance of success will be much higher if you reported and allowed evidence to be collected. In most cases, the police will come to you and take a statement about what occurred. In addition to taking a statement, police will collect physical evidence. While some physical evidence will be collected by a nurse or doctor, the police may also ask to examine the scene and collect bedding, clothing, or other items.
The police interview may take as long as several hours, depending on the circumstances of your case. Some questions will probably feel intrusive, and the officer will probably go over the details several times. The extensive questioning is not because the police do not believe you; it is the officer’s job to get every detail down precisely. Due to the traumatic effect of sexual assaults on survivors, multiple interviews may be required to get all of the pertinent details of the assault. This is not unusual, and investigators are trained to expect gaps in memory due to trauma immediately after the assault. Investigators understand that as time passes, additional memories may become clearer. Throughout the process, law enforcement officials will keep you aware of the progress of your case.
If you report the incident to the UTPD, they will contact the Title IX coordinator, and an appropriate university official will get in touch with you. UTPD will also offer to call an on-call victim advocate to be present during your questioning if you choose to do so and will provide you with a list of available resources.