Mandatory reporting would be stricter for faculty than student victims

My previous post supporting the policy is here. I’ve also posted the comment below on the Senate blog (which requires a UO ID for login) here. The comment:

I thank Carol and the GSBV for their work on this policy. I think the balance between allowing faculty to confidentially advise their students, while making sure that perpetrators are reported and appropriately dealt with is difficult and uncertain. Given that, and my confidence in the committee’s judgement, I think the proposed requirement that all faculty should be mandatory reporters should be taken seriously

With that in mind I discussed the proposal with other faculty, and out of those discussions I started wondering about how it would apply to faculty who might give advice to colleagues who were being subject to sexual harassment by other faculty. I asked GC Kevin Reed about a generic example, and I’ve put that and his response below.

The gist is that this proposed policy treats faculty victims very differently than students. While students have a variety of confidential reporting options, the policy would require faculty to report the details of such harassment of faculty to Penny Daugherty’s AAEO office, regardless of whether or not the Ombuds office or other confidential resources had been consulted. I think this would prevent many helpful conversations between faculty colleagues. On the other hand it might inhibit serial perpetrators.

I’m not sure yet how this changes my opinion on the policy as a whole. I hope people will read the exchange below and use it to inform their own views.

Question to GC Kevin Reed:

I’ve got a question about the mandatory reporting policy. Here’s the sort of situation I’m wondering about. The example involves faculty but it could apply to any non-students.

Recently divorced senior professor A keeps stopping by junior professor B’s office, to talk about work topics including potential joint research, B’s tenure case, etc. Sometimes A complains about a lack of a sex life, asks about B’s relationships, if B is going to the next conference, etc.

B is not interested in a relationship with A and thinks they’ve made that clear, but A’s visits and their tone continues.

B starts avoiding interactions with A by working from home rather than in their office, avoiding seminars and conferences where A will appear, dropping research that overlap’s with A’s area, etc.

B’s colleagues, who will vote on the tenure case, start to notice B’s disengagement with the department and the profession.

Eventually senior professor C, who has mentored B professionally and is also a personal friend, asks B what’s going on. Or maybe B seeks out C’s advice.

By the policy’s definition, and I think by any reasonable definition, this is “sexual and gender based harassment and bullying” by A that substantially interferes with B’s work, creates a hostile work environment, etc.

From what I see, the relevant mandatory reporting language in the proposed policy is this:

III. Responsible Employees Reporting Obligations

Responsible Employees who receive Credible Evidence of Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment or Sexual Harassment are required to promptly report that information as follows:

A. If the Credible Evidence relates to Sex Discrimination of a Student, Responsible Employees should report any information received to the Title IX Coordinator or to the Office of Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services.

B. In all other instances, Responsible Employees should report any information received to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO).

My read of the proposed policy is that if B talked to C about it the situation, C could offer advice and try to help, e.g. by offering to tell A that this has to stop, or sending them to the Ombud. But regardless, C would be required to report everything they learned from B or from A to Penny Daugherty’s AAEO office. For that matter B would be required to report it to AAEO themselves.

For contrast, if I understand right, if A’s harassment was directed at a student, there would be a variety of confidential reporting options that could be used by the student and their confidants.

Am I correct about this asymmetry, and if so is it intentional or an oversight?

Response from the GC:

Well, there is a purposeful distinction of sorts, based on the status of the complainant (and which statutory scheme is thereby invoked). But the bottom line for the “responsible employee,” Professor C in your example, is the same. Prof. C would need to report what she/he learned – in this example you create it would be to the AAEO office since that office deals with all instances of discrimination except those involving sexual misconduct in which a student is the alleged victim.

Prof. B, on the other hand, has a range of confidential resources available to her including Ombuds, staff counseling resources, legal counsel, etc.

Yes, there is a difference in treatment of reports depending on whether the person who is the alleged recipient of sexual harassment is a student or a faculty member (or staff, volunteer, etc.) The difference derives from the somewhat different obligations UO has to students under Title IX, as opposed to employees under Title VII. Title IX, as interpreted by OCR, gives substantial agency to complainants regarding whether they wish to pursue any formal proceeding to address the abuse. Title VII, on the other hand, creates an affirmative obligation on the part of the University, qua employer, to investigate and remedy workplace sexual harassment and does not provide a complainant with the sort of deference found in the Title IX context. Of course, this distinction does not differentiate with respect to the reporting, but it does limit the ability of UO as employer to withhold taking action at the request of a complainant.

And, since the AAEO office is tasked with responding to allegations of discrimination, investigations of allegations of sexual harassment brought forward by employee complainants would go to that office.

And, anticipating your next question: where a student is also an employee (i.e., a GTF, RA, etc.), we default to the Title IX rules and process and direct reports to the victims advocates or TIX Coordinator.

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2 Responses to Mandatory reporting would be stricter for faculty than student victims

  1. Penny Fan says:

    Penny Daugherty will make decisions on pay inequities? Really? Those inequities are prohibited discrimination if based on gender — so if the financial officer in a school notices that women are paid less, he must file a report against his dean, who sets the pay? And the report won’t be confidential, so the dean will know that the financial officer did that. And the financial officer can be disciplined if he does not file that report, it seems.

    If, as a faculty member or secretary, I notice that a Dean is passing over more senior faculty members in favor of promoting younger faculty members, I MUST report this to AAEO? After all, that’s prohibited discrimination, right? And AAEO will open an investigation of said dean’s actions?

    If a fellow faculty member tells a raunchy (somewhat sexist) locker-room joke to me at a bar, I must make a report to AAEO?

    If I experience sexual harassment from a colleague, I MUST report that colleague to Penny, even if I prefer to bop him one?

    Did the sexual violence committee actually write this, with that intent? Is that what the university senate is supposed to be voting on next week?

  2. anonymous says:

    This example would NOT be found to be sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, hostile work environment, or anything else by AAEO.