While the 2020 Regulations permit informal resolution, the parties (complainant and respondent) must be willing to give informal resolution a try, or the institution cannot attempt to resolve informally. As a result, Title IX Coordinators must not only assess whether each complaint is amenable to possible resolution through informal means, they must also assess whether this is an appropriate mechanism for the parties involved.
The 10 D’s of Opposition
The 10 D’s of Opposition may be applied as an evaluative framework to provide facilitators with key information needed to assess a party’s or supporter’s readiness to participate. They are most helpful when considered in their totality. Below is an introduction to the 10 D’s:
Deflect. Deflection occurs when an individual attempts to shift the focus away from the main issue or to blame someone or something else for the harm that occurred. This may sound like:
- A respondent blaming their actions on alcohol or other substances
- A complainant focusing on a very narrow component of the complaint rather than the entirety of what occurred
Delay. Delays include actions or inactions that prevent the process from moving forward.
Some delays are reasonable and should not give a facilitator pause, such as wanting to speak with a trusted advisor before agreeing to participate in an informal resolution or asking to speak to a selected supporter before the facilitator reaches out. However, many delays are indications of underlying concerns of which a facilitator should be mindful and attentive.
Deny. Denial refers to taking the stance that either (1) the behavior didn’t occur as reported, or (2) the individual or group identified as the respondent is not responsible for the behavior which occurred. This may sound like:
- A respondent who alleges that they were not present during a reported incident
- A complainant who denies being battered despite direct witness statements
Discount. Discounting happens when an individual or group minimizes or dismisses the impact of an incident. This may sound like:
- A complainant who does not identify the harm that was reported to have happened to them as a problem or a policy violation
- A respondent who indicates that all of their teammates go through the same rituals when joining the team and no one has ever left the team because of it before
Deceive. Deception refers to intentionally misleading by omitting information or providing false information. This may sound like:
- A respondent explaining some, but not all, of what took place when a complainant was incapacitated
- A complainant hiding information regarding pretext communication between the parties
Divide. Division typically occurs when an individual attempts to split a group, encourages people to “take sides,” or expects others to demonstrate their loyalty to one party or another.
Dulcify. To dulcify means to provide a small concession to calm or soothe the situation, or to “make [the situation] sweeter”. The term is akin to pacifying and appeasing in that there is no meaningful effort to truly resolve the matter. This may sound like:
- A respondent agreeing to offer an apology if that’s what the complainant asks for rather than because they genuinely want to apologize
- A complainant agreeing to not share the outcome of the informal resolution via social media
Discredit. Discrediting is the act of undermining or attempting to diminish the credibility of another. This may sound like:
- A complainant doubting the respondent’s ability to tell the truth
- A respondent referring to a complainant in a derogatory manner or alleging that they have mental health issues which affect their perceptions of reality
Destroy. The root goal of a destroy tactic is to “ruin” or “take down” another person or group, often related to reputation, career or prospects, academic progress, etc. This may sound like:
- A complainant mentioning the possibility of a lawsuit if the respondent doesn’t meet their expectations
- A supporter indicating that they may encourage the complainant to pursue a law enforcement response if they don’t like how the process concludes
Deal. Dealing is like compromising. However, when individuals compromise, they are typically giving up something in exchange for getting something else or putting conditions upon an agreement. While give and take is not necessarily a negative, it is important that a party isn’t conceding something false solely in an effort to reach a resolution and avoid the formal grievance process. ATIXA members: Click here for an extended five-page version of this Tip.
To explore Informal Resolutions in more depth, join us for a Time with IX event on Friday, July 16.