Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Education, Leadership and Public Service


Higher Education in Student Affairs

First Advisor/Chairperson

Bethney Bergh


How higher education institutions (HEI) handled sexual misconduct cases matters. It matters for survivors, accused, administrators, parents, HEI leaders, regulatory bodies (such as the Office for Civil Rights), and the general public. The 2011 Dear Colleague Letter published by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights mandated the use of preponderance of evidence in all sexual misconduct cases (Ali, 2011). The change to utilize a low burden of proof, preponderance of evidence, was and is controversial. Despite a large literature base of legal opinions on the use of preponderance of evidence in the campus adjudication process, there are few practitioner voices commenting on the preponderance of evidence. Using a phenomenological approach, student affairs practitioner perceptions of the use of preponderance of evidence in sexual misconduct will become clear. While it is too early to conclude that the preponderance of evidence is best practice everywhere, the majority of participants at this institution felt it was in support of it as a best practice.

Access Type

Open Access