Prof. Freyd posts resource page on opposition to mandatory reporting policies

Check her website here for updates, page down for the current links. Among many other resources she provides a link to the recently updated University of Michigan policy, which explicitly excludes faculty from the list of “Responsible Employees”, thereby allowing them to talk to students and employees about sexual and racial harassment without being required to report the details to the university administration. The executive summary of the UM policy explains:

The development of the policy was a comprehensive and collaborative effort that included a rigorous and iterative drafting process with broad input from students, faculty and staff across the university, including those who work in this area. It also includes guidance from national experts outside the university and at other universities.

The policy balances important principles of autonomy and agency for the claimant; 1 due process rights and considerations; and the university’s responsibility to maintain a safe, nondiscriminatory environment free from sexual and gender-based harassment and other forms of interpersonal violence.

During the UO Senate debates we were told the OCR was opposed to exempting faculty from mandatory faculty. But the UM document notes that their policy was was shared with the DoE OCR before being finalized:

APPENDIX A – POLICY DEVELOPMENT PROCESS A proposed draft policy, titled The University of Michigan Policy on Student Sexual Misconduct Including Intimate Partner Violence and Stalking in the Context of Intimate Relationships (the Draft Policy), was shared with all students, faculty, and staff Oct. 1, 2015, with an invitation to review the policy and provide feedback by Nov. 6, 2015. The university received feedback from more than 325 individuals. The draft policy was also shared with OCR in October 2015.

The relevant language from the new UM policy is here:

C. REPORTING BY UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES

1. Responsible Employees and Other Individuals

Responsible Employees must immediately report any information they know about
suspected Prohibited Conduct to the Office for Institutional Equity or the Title IX
Coordinator. Responsible Employees may include non-employees in addition to
employees. Failure by a Responsible Employee to timely report a suspected Prohibited
Conduct may subject them to appropriate discipline, up to and including removal from
their position. Responsible Employees may report to the Title IX Coordinator through
any of the reporting options previously noted in Section VI(B).

The following individuals are Responsible Employees and Other Individuals:

• Regents;
• Executive officers (including those serving in the role of Associate or
Assistant Vice President/Provost, as designated by the executive officer);
• Deans, directors, department heads/chairs (including those serving in
assistant or associate roles);
• Graduate and undergraduate chairs;
• Supervisors who have hiring or firing power over at least three employees
who are not student or post-doc employees;
• Any individuals, whether employees or not, who serve as advisors to or
coaches of University-recognized student group

Faculty and staff who do not meet any of these criteria are not considered Responsible Employees and Other Individuals. Individuals who are Confidential Resources are not Responsible Employees. Any questions regarding who is a Responsible Employee should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel at (734)764-0304 or the Office for Institutional Equity at (734)763-0235 2.

2. All Other Employees

Reporting is an important tool to address Prohibited Conduct. Thus, while all other employees who are not designated as Confidential Resources should safeguard an individual’s privacy, they are also strongly encouraged to share any information about such conduct with the Office for Institutional Equity, the Title IX Coordinator, or a member of the Dean of Students Office.

Freyd website as of 5/22/2016:

Ethical and Practical Problems with Required Reporting of Sexual Violence on College Campuses

A Compilation of Articles and Resources

Compiled by Jennifer J Freyd

Disclosure: I have an opinion on this issue — I’m opposed to so-called required reporting on ethical grounds: I consider it a violation of basic human rights to privacy and autonomy; I believe removing autonomy is harmful to survivors based on what we know from social science research; and I believe the policy is fundamentally counter to academic freedom, learning, and equal access to education (and is thus a civil rights violation). I’m also opposed on practical grounds: I believe required reporting will chill reporting on campus and, in the meantime, there are good approaches available to encouraging voluntary — and instiutionally accountable — reporting.

This Site is Under Construction

News Articles:

Professors Are Being Forced To Reveal Sexual Assault Confidences, Like It Or Not by Tyler Kingkade, The Huffington Post, 10 May 2016.

Endangering a Trust by Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 4 February 2015

Faculty Commentary Opposing Required Reporting:

The Problem with “Required Reporting” Rules for Sexual Violence on Campus by Jennifer Freyd, Huffington Post Blog, 25 April 2016.

Ohio University faculty members want mandatory reporter rule reevaluated by Miriam Shadis and Patricia Stokes (and many signers), The Post, 22 October 2015

The Chilling Effect of Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Assault by Michele Moody-Adams, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 March 2015

Trust me…no never mind by Denice Labertew, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault Blog, 5 February 2015

Student and Survivor Voices Opposing Required Reporting:

Anonymous Open Letter to the UO Senate from a Graduate Student blog post 26 April 2016

Survivor Survey on Mandatory Reporting by End Sexual Violence

Statement regarding UO Responsible Employee Duty to report sexual harassment and sexual assault policy by UO Organization Against Sexual Assault

Some Universities with Policies that Do NOT Require All Faculty to be Required Reporters

  1. University of Michigan
  2. NYU
  3. Cal Tech
  4. CUNY
  5. Hofstra
  6. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

(More details about specific policies here.)

Scholarly and Scientific Research Relevant to Required Reporting

See this compendium

See Also

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10 Responses to Prof. Freyd posts resource page on opposition to mandatory reporting policies

  1. Publius says:

    The Michigan policy is more ambiguous than U of O Matters suggests. This reflects the fact that there is no simple solution to the problem here.

    The Michigan policy identifies two categories. One is responsible employees, who are obliged to immediately report sexual assault/complaints regardless of the survivor’s wishes. Most faculty are not in this category.

    But there is a further distinction between confidential and nonconfidential resources. The first are those that can never be obliged to share confidential information, without the survivor’s consent; the second are those that can be so obliged, as part of an investigation. Faculty are not identified as part of the first category.

    So, all the Michigan policy says is that faculty must respect survivors’ wishes insofar as they are not obliged to immediately report what they have been told. But once an investigation has begun–and nothing in the Michigan policy precludes this happening from third-party complaints– faculty may be obliged to share what they’ve been told, regardless of the survivor’s wishes. Or at least, nothing in the policy prevents this.

    The Task Force policy was imperfect in part because no policy on this matter will be perfect. Now its up to the opponents to propose a better one.

    • Not Publius says:

      Nice try, “Publius” (in whatever UO office you work). If somebody doesn’t bother to read the Michigan policy, you might slip your misrepresentation of the policy by them. And then you could claim that Michigan is not as strong as UO Matters says. And thus no model for UO. That couldn’t be your goal, could it?

      There is nothing “ambiguous” about the Michigan policy, as you blithely claim. Your attempt at logic would get you an F in a UO class.

      Contrary to your implication, an individual faculty member at Michigan is not a “resource” at all. Thus they cannot be a “non-confidential resource” that can be obliged to share what they have been told by a survivor.

      The Michigan policy lists the word “resource” or “resources” 39 times. Not even once does it suggest that an ordinary faculty member or other employee is a “resource.” Anyone can search the Michigan policy for “resource” and confirm that (39 times).

      The Michigan policy lists the phrase “university resource” six times. Not even once does it use that term to refer to faculty or ordinary employees.

      On the other hand, the Michigan policy does make explicit reference to where you can find “university resource,” namely in “Our Community Matters – Resource Guide.” A link to the PDF version of that guide is here: https://sapac.umich.edu/topic/our-community-matters-resource-guide . Nothing in that Resource Guide suggests in any way that an employee is a “university resource” for sexual assault.
      You try to sneek away with “nothing in the policy prevents this” (application of the term “non-confidential university resource” to individual faculty or other employees). Actually, 39 references and 6 references do prevent this. The show what a “resource” is.

      It’s too bad that it takes so much writing to counter utter nonsense. By the way, you might have a future in Donald Trump’s campaign organization.

      • uomatters says:

        To “Not Publius”: Thanks for your informative comment. However there is no reason for your snark, and please tone it down next time.

      • Dog says:

        @ Not Publius

        Wait a minute – we can give F’s in classes at the UO?

        Ah, Trump will probably outlaw that …

        • Anonymous says:

          Unless you’re in School of Ed. The lowest grade there is probably a C, and you probably have to really try hard to get it that low.

  2. Publius says:

    I just called the University of Michigan and they confirmed my reading of their policy. They began by stressing that faculty were not “confidential resources”, my point, hence anything told them did not have the same absolute confidentiality.

    Since faculty are not “responsible employees” they are not obliged to immediately report violations of the policy. But as to whether they could be obliged later on, the issue (I was told) is “complicated”–mainly because at that point they would be “witnesses”, putting them in a different category of obligations. The person I talked to said there had been discussion of what this meant, but no clear agreement yet. Certainly nothing prevented a faculty member from reporting what they’d been told in the strictest confidence.

    As I said, the issues here are complex ones about which serious people have serious disagreements. This is reflected in the complexities and ambiguities of the policies schools are now adopting. The topic is unsuited to the sort of jocular juvenile point-scoring appropriate for, say, sports issues.

    • Inquiring Mind says:

      I applaud you Publius for looking deeper into the matter, and for not reacting in kind to non-plubius’ personal accusations.

  3. Publius says:

    For the record, as my comments were taken by “Not-Publius” as some devious attempt as whatever, I am not in favor of making most faculty mandatory reporters. A Michigan type policy would be fine with me, but it does not provide absolute safeguards to confidentiality any more than any other policy does. So my suggestion was a sincere one: lets have the opponents of the senate task force policy now give us their alternative.