Sexual Assault Resources

Making a formal complaint to UW

You have the right to report sexual misconduct to the police, submit a formal complaint to the University, to do both, or to do neither.  This is your choice. You may report any instances of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and/or sexual harassment to University investigation offices. The University will conduct a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation to determine whether a University policy or code – such as the Student Conduct Code or Executive Order No. 31  or Executive Order No. 70 – has been violated.  A University investigation is separate and different from any investigation police might conduct.

Initial Assessment

If you choose to make a formal complaint, an investigator meets with you to provide information about the investigation process, and to gather information about what happened.  After an initial review of the information you shared, the investigator will inform you whether the University may conduct an investigation.


Investigators receive regular training on issues of sexual violence, including about working with individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct. The assigned investigator will investigate the reported incident by gathering evidence and interviewing you, witnesses, and the person alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct, who is referred to as the “respondent.” Both you and the respondent will have the opportunity to identify relevant witnesses and provide evidence.


The investigator will review all available information to determine whether a University policy has been violated. The University uses a “preponderance of evidence” standard in its determinations.  A “preponderance of evidence” means the investigator will determine whether it is “more likely than not” that a violation of a policy occurred. This standard is different from the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that is used in criminal courts. Both you and the respondent will be informed of the outcome and whether there is an option to seek additional review.


In accordance with the Student Conduct Code, Executive Order No. 70 or Faculty Code, in some matters a hearing may be convened where a hearing officer or panel of faculty assesses the evidence relating to the allegations, makes findings, and determines appropriate sanctions or remedies, if any. Both you and the respondent will be informed of the investigation’s outcome and whether there is an option to seek an appeal.

Both you and the respondent may be accompanied to any hearing by an advisor of your choice.  The advisor may be an attorney. In some cases, you may be required to have an advisor. If you choose to submit a formal complaint and a hearing will occur, you will receive additional information at that time about the hearing.

Disciplinary action

If the respondent is found responsible for violating University policy or code, sanctions or disciplinary actions are available.  What happens will depend on the findings and whether the person is a student and/or employee at the University. Disciplinary actions for students may include, but are not limited to, dismissal, suspension, disciplinary probation, or a reprimand. Depending on terms and type of employment, employees may face termination of employment, suspension, and/or or other types of corrective action.

The process utilized for an investigation and the use of any available disciplinary sanctions depends on the role (e.g., student, staff, faculty) of the respondent at the University.