UO Senate workgroup to narrow approach to responsible employee sexual assault reporting

The UO Senate workgroup tasked with drafting a permanent sexual harassment reporting policy will likely propose the university narrow its approach to requiring mandatory reporting. Consensus on this point was reached during the committee’s second meeting today, which follows its previously determined timeline to draft a new policy by Sept. 28.

In attendance were a handful of spectators and eight committee members, including chair and UO law Professor Merle Weiner, Faculty Senate President Bill Harbaugh, Title IX Coordinator Darci Heroy, Psychology professor Jennifer Freyd, an undergraduate and a graduate student.

As the emergency policy stands currently, almost all university employees must promptly report credible evidence of prohibited discrimination, harassment or sexual assault.

Today, the workgroup discussed the need to move away from that broad approach by shortening the list of employees required to report.

Freyd told the group she searched for research on the effectiveness of mandatory reporting and found none.

“I find it hard to accept that there would ever be mandatory reporting,” she said. “I don’t understand why we’d put an adult [sexual assault] survivor in that situation.”

The group also agreed that non-responsible employees, those who don’t have an obligation to report instances of discrimination or assault, should be highly encouraged — if not required– to inform students of their rights in reporting the incident, filing a formal complaint and initiating an investigation.

Weiner played a TED video on Callisto, an online reporting system in place at four universities. Callisto’s anonymous, self-reporting system is intended to increase reporting rates and stop repeat offenders.

Heroy said the software was well-received by UO staff during a demonstration, “but it’s certainly not a stand-alone system.” The group will consider implementing the software as a supplementary reporting system at UO.

The meeting ended with a discussion on a structured public forum that would allow students to provide feedback on the new policy before the group presents a draft to the UO senate executive board. The meeting, tentatively planned for Sept. 30 at 1:00 pm, will include student-given speeches on the current and proposed policies, as well as an open mic portion.

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Emily Olson

Emily Olson

Emily Olson is an associate news editor at the Emerald. She likes coffee.