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Student Title IX Resources: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Title IX and what does it cover?

Title IX is the Federal Civil Rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Sexual harassment, including acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by Title IX. Sexual harassment, rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault are all prohibited by, and investigated pursuant to, Title IX.

Caltech’s Title IX Coordinator is Hima Vatti. She can be reached at 626-395-3132, at or at her office room 205 on the 2nd floor of the Center for Student Services. She is supported by Deputy Title IX Coordinators Melany Hunt (, 626-395-4231) Ofelia Velazquez-Perez (, 626-395-3819), Allie McIntosh (, 626-395-1743) and Jackie Clennan-Price (, 818-393-0016).

Where can I find Caltech's policies that comply with Title IX?

Title IX is reflected in three Caltech policies. They include the policy on Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity, Unlawful Harassment and Sexual and Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment and Sexual Misconduct. You can review these policies here.

How do I report Title IX Violence?

A student can report a Title IX violation to any of the people listed below.

Title IX Coordinator, Hima Vatti, 626-395-3132

Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Melany Hunt, 626-395-4231

Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Ofelia Velazquez-Perez, 626-395-3819

Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Allie McIntosh, 626-395-1743

Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Jackie Clennan-Price, 818-393-0016

What happens when I report a Title IX issue including sexual violence?

When reporting sexual violence, you may request confidentiality and that we will do not use your name. Caltech will weigh your request against its obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment. Caltech’s ability to meaningfully investigate and pursue disciplinary action against the accused may be limited by a request for confidentiality or not to pursue the complaint. Before a decision is made, the Title IX coordinator (or a deputy coordinator) will evaluate requests for confidentiality and will talk with you about it.

You also have the option not to report to the Institute and instead to talk with a confidential resource, either on or off campus.

What happens when I report a Title IX issue including unlawful harassment?

For violations of Caltech’s Sexual and Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy which includes sexual harassment, you can choose whether to pursue informal resolution (such as having someone talk to the alleged harasser and ask them to stop the problematic behaviors), or bring a formal complaint which will be investigated by one or more investigators who will make recommendations to the Dean regarding the outcome and disciplinary actions for the accused, if found to have violated the policy. Caltech runs a thorough and equitable process that clarifies the concerns that have been reported and takes actions to support our students when appropriate.

Can I have someone with me for support when I report?

Absolutely. We encourage students to report Title IX issues, and we appreciate this may be an overwhelming experience. In order to make this easier, a student may have an advisor or support person present, such as a friend, upper class counselor (UCC), resident associate (RA), graduate resident advisor (GRA), residential life coordinator (RLC) or other party. Any advisor will sign an Advisor Policy and Confidentiality Agreement.

What can I expect and where can I get help with my case?

In all cases, all parties involved will receive a fair process and be treated with care and respect. Care will also be taken to protect both parties with the greatest degree of confidentiality. Unlawful harassment reports can be resolved informally or formally, depending on the wishes of the complainant.

In the case of an informal process, those found in violation of the Unlawful Harassment policy will be given the chance to change their behavior without disciplinary action. In the case of a formal process, an investigation is opened. Both parties will be kept informed of the status of the investigation, and given equal opportunity to participate in the investigation, including objecting to the investigators, providing evidence and suggesting others who might be interviewed.

All formal complaints will be investigated within a reasonable length of time after the complaint has been made, normally within 60 days. Once a decision is made, respondents may appeal. Appeals must be in writing and submitted within 30 days of notification of the decision. Individuals who have been found to have violated Caltech’s policy on sexual violence or unlawful harassment may be subject to disciplinary action.

What is retaliation, and what do I do if I feel like I am being retaliated against for coming forward?

Retaliation is any overt or covert acts of reprisal, interference, discrimination, intimidation, or harassment against an individual or group for coming forward to report or discuss a Title IX issue. Retaliation is strictly prohibited, and the Institute takes steps to prevent as well as promptly and appropriately stop any acts of retaliation. If you feel like you may be the target of retaliation, please report your concern immediately.

Can I talk to a confidential resource?

Yes! Caltech has three options for talking with someone confidentially about Title IX or other concerns. These include the Counseling Center (626-395-8331) and the designated staff in the Caltech Center for Diversity (626-395-8108 or 626-395-3221). Talking to a confidential resource does not constitute a report to the Institute and will be kept private. If a victim speaks with a mental-health professional or other confidential resource and requests confidentiality, Caltech will be unable to conduct an investigation into the particular incident or pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator.

Confidential resources can assist you in receiving necessary protection and support, such as victim advocacy, academic support or accommodations, disability, health or mental health services, and changes to living, working or course schedules. If you at first request confidentiality, but later decide to file a complaint with Caltech and/or report the incident to law enforcement, you can always make that decision, and the confidential resources will help you to file a complaint if you would like.

What will my friends, family, and advisor be told?

Except in rare cases (such as a health or safety emergency), Caltech will not give information to your friends or family. Anyone who participates in an investigation will be asked to respect the privacy of all parties involved. Caltech will share information only with individuals within Caltech on a need-to-know basis and as required by law. For example, your advisor or others at Caltech may be notified of accommodation or disciplinary action, and the complainant will be notified of sanctions consistent with the law.

What will happen to me if I was intoxicated during the incident I am reporting?

Caltech has a Good Samaritan policy, which states that intoxication requiring medical attention is considered a health issue. Therefore the primary Institute response is a medical one, not a disciplinary one. Student safety and support are our primary concerns. You may report Unlawful Harassment or violence if you were intoxicated, and you will not be disciplined for the alcohol, even if you are under age.

Is watching pornography a Title IX issue?

As outlined in the Unlawful Harassment Policy, behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment include "downloading, viewing and/or sharing pornography." Pornography is inappropriate for academic and workplace settings including house, library and other public computers and/or spaces. However, what people view in the privacy of their residential space and on their own computers is an individual choice and, as long as it is not creating a hostile environment for others, is not a Title IX issue.

Is there a policy on Teaching Assistants dating students?

It is not appropriate for a teaching assistant to date, or have a formative relationship, with a student in the class. If this is a concern, it is best if you have an individual conversation with one of the instructors or an undergraduate or graduate dean. They can help the TA move to another section or assign them to a different TA position. Students will not be prevented from serving as a TA because of a previous conflict with the TA dating policy.