This may be a first. Past Chronicle stories about UO have focused on such negatives as Bob Berdhahl’s double dipping, Richard Lariviere’s firing, Mike Gottfredson’s efforts to subvert academic freedom, Randy Geller’s attempt to convince the Trustees to destroy the UO Senate, the hilariously over the top Duck athletic spending, and our current GC’s efforts to get my emails with reporters about freedom of speech.
But today’s report on UO is more positive. It’s about the efforts of the UO Senate – led by professors Jennifer Freyd (Psychology) and Merle Weiner (Law) – to reform the UO administration’s “mandatory reporting” policy. The Chronicle story suggests that UO’s solution may provide a workable alternative to the mandatory reporting mandate that Title IX compliance consultants have been pushing, and one which other universities might adopt:
Brett A. Sokolow, a Title IX legal expert whose Ncherm Group advises colleges on a variety of risks, said that if other universities look to model their approaches after Oregon, “it will touch off greater rebellion against mandated reporting by faculty on many campuses, for better or worse.”
But don’t cry for Mr. Sokolow, I’m sure he’ll soon figure out a way to make money from universities wanting to adopt UO’s policy, just as he did with mandatory reporting.
Meanwhile, the UO Senate voted yesterday to give Professor Freyd its highest award for university service. Today’s story from the Chronicle is here – probably gated if you’re off campus. Some more extracts:
University lawyers had argued that a sweeping mandatory-reporting approach was necessary to comply with Title IX and to ensure that sexual-misconduct cases weren’t ignored.
Since then, campus officials have become persuaded, largely by research conducted at the university, that requiring faculty members to violate confidence makes students more reluctant to confide in them.
“It sounds counterintuitive, but eliminating mandatory reporting actually encourages more reporting,” said Missy Matella, an assistant general counsel at Oregon who worked with the task force.
The new policy, which its drafters refer to as “mandatory supporting” rather than “mandatory reporting,” will divide Oregon’s faculty and staff members into three groups:
“Designated reporters” must report an offense to the university’s Title IX coordinator under any circumstances. These include high-level and supervisory employees, including the president, vice presidents, deans and athletic directors. Resident advisers and campus police officers also fall into this category.
“Student-directed employees” will report potential misconduct if the student wants them to. These include most faculty and staff employees as well as student workers. They must help students report to the institution if they choose to. Otherwise, they will be required to provide information about support services and reporting options. They also must consult with a “confidential employee” to be sure they’ve covered all their bases to help the student.
“Confidential employees” will report if the students wishes, but they’ll have an added level of confidentiality. People in this group, which includes campus health and crisis counselors, are also required to provide reporting students with information about available help.