Pres Schill signs Senate’s sexual harassment and violence reporting policy

Just in time for tomorrow’s Senate meeting. The final draft is here and the signed copy should be on the policy website soon. It takes effect in September.

Mandatory reporting is increasingly under attack. UO’s new policy, which requires faculty to respect student wishes rather than report what they say to the administration, will likely serve as a national model for an alternative to the mandatory reporting requirements for all faculty and employees that the Senate rejected last year.

Here’s the latest in the AAUP’s Academe:

Trouble with Title IX: Mandatory reporting, Title IX profiteers and administrators, and academic governance.

By Sine Anahita

… The administrative command that made all workers mandatory reporters poses many problems. Some involve students, while others center on the process by which the policy came about, lack of shared governance chief among those.

First, students have privacy rights. Privacy is a constitutional right, not a “special privilege.” Students should not have to forfeit this constitutional right when they enroll at my university. What students write in their papers and other assignments and what they say in conversations is protected by privacy rights.

Second, students, like faculty, have academic freedom. They have the right to apply course concepts to their own personal experience through class discussions and written or oral assignments, and they should not have to fear being reported to a campus authority. They should not have to censor themselves in order to avoid being reported. The issue of academic freedom works another way as well. Faculty like me who are mandatory reporters no longer feel that we have the academic freedom to teach about or to discuss sexual misconduct with our students.

Third, students have the right to confidential conversations. In a free nation, students should be able to discuss personal issues with others, free from the fear of being reported to campus authorities. Certainly all of us must report illegal, dangerous, or threatening behavior. But being a victim, being a survivor, is not illegal behavior and should not be reported to campus authorities without the survivor’s consent. …

And here’s the official announcement on UO’s new policy, emphasis added.

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to inform you that the University of Oregon is implementing a new policy related to the reporting responsibilities of UO employees who learn of an incident in which a student has experienced sex- or gender-based discrimination, including sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, harassment or bullying, and stalking (referred to below in simplified terms as “sexual harassment”). The policy will take effect September 15, 2017.

A responsible reporting work group made up of faculty and staff members, students, administrators, and me spent more than eight months reviewing the existing responsible reporting policy and revising it, with consideration for current evidence-based research and input from diverse stakeholders across campus and in the community. The new policy is designed to increase both campus safety and confidence in our institutional response by encouraging even more students to seek support, receive services, and report sexual harassment. It accomplishes this by demonstrating our resolve to protect victims and survivors as much as possible by allowing them to choose when, if, and how to take advantage of the comprehensive and compassionate resources that we offer.

The new policy requires all employees who receive reports of a student experiencing sexual harassment to respond with compassion and kindness, actively listen to the student’s report, and be sensitive to the student’s needs. Once implemented, the new policy will change many employees’ obligation related to reporting that information, which currently requires almost all employees to report to the Title IX coordinator. The new policy creates three categories of employee reporting obligations:

Designated reporters:

  • Required to report information to the Title IX coordinator
  • Includes high-level and supervisory employees such as the president, vice presidents, deans, and athletic directors as well as employees tasked with responding to incidents of sexual harassment and violence such as the director of student conduct, Title IX appeals officers, resident advisors, and UO Police Department officers

Student-directed employees:

  • Required to provide reporting students with information regarding all available campus resources and reporting options
  • Required to consult with a confidential employee (see below) to ensure the employee is supported and has all information necessary to help the student, and to assess any risks
  • If the student wants to make a report to the institution, employees must assist the student in reporting information to the Title IX coordinator or report for the student as requested
  • Includes most faculty members, student-employees, SEIU employees, and officers of administration

Confidential employees:

  • Required to provide reporting students with information regarding all available campus resources and the student’s reporting options
  • Includes most employees on campus with a legal privilege such as health professionals working the university health and counseling centers, advocates working in the university’s crisis intervention and sexual violence support services center, and the ombudsperson

President Michael Schill signed the new policy with an effective date of September 15, 2017, which will give us time to fully implement the new policy and coordinate the policy launch with the roll out of Callisto, a new online Title IX reporting system. In the coming months, the staff members in the Title IX office, human resources, student life, student services, and communications offices will update websites and publications, beta-test Callisto, create new faculty and staff training programs, and communicate with campus stakeholders. I am assembling a cross-functional implementation team to begin planning for and to execute the launch of both initiatives prior to the beginning of the fall academic year.

In the meantime, the UO’s commitment and obligation to provide support and services to students who’ve experienced any form of sexual harassment remains unchanged. If you or someone you know learns of a student experiencing sexual harassment, please encourage them to learn about the support and resources that are available to them by calling 541-346-SAFE, visiting safe.uoregon.edu, or visiting the UO Counseling and Testing Center.

If you have questions, please contact my office.

Sincerely,
Darci Heroy
Vice President and Title IX Coordinator
106 Johnson Hall
1098 E. 13th Ave.
Eugene, Oregon 97403-5221
Telephone: 541-346-8136
titleixcoordinator@uoregon.edu

 

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