UO creates new “Responsible Reporting” policy to support survivors of gender-based discrimination and harassment on campus
The University of Oregon recently enacted a new “Responsible Reporting” policy aimed at empowering survivors of sexual assault and discrimination.
Darci Heroy, associate vice president and Title IX coordinator, worked with the university Senate appointed Responsible Reporting Working Group to create the new policy that became effective on Sept. 15th. The new policy is directed at the student’s interests, requiring university employees to take actions in terms of reporting based on what the student wants to do.
Both national research and the research conducted by UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd concluded survivors need control over the reporting process to recover fully.
The policy has received positive feedback from the faculty as well as the University Senate. Senate President Chris Sinclair said of the new policy, “I’m extremely happy with it. I think it will be a model policy for a lot of universities.”
The “Responsible Reporting” policy is intended to make reporting instances of sexual harassment and gender based discrimination tailored to fulfill the survivor’s needs. All university employees hold the same responsibility in this process to ensure students have accessibility to the same resources and are all treated equally and supported fully.
“One of the things that’s really important to someone healing in that context is regaining some autonomy — some control over themselves — because it’s such an intimate violation. That loss of control is part of the harm,” Heroy said.
According to Heroy, students expressed that there was a fear of immediate reporting and lack of a say in the process. Previously, the policy required only certain employees to be reporters and did not take into account the affected student’s needs.
Heroy stated the new policy clarifies the duties of the university employees by educating them on how to help a student that comes forward with a report. If a student wants to file an official report, the university employee contacts the Title IX coordinator. If a student does not want to file an official report, the university employee directs the student to various confidential resources to ensure the student is supported and helped.
“If a student wants you to report, then you help them do that. If they don’t, then you still have some obligation to connect them with support and resources,” Heroy said.
The University worked to ensure that these resources were accessible to both faculty and students as well. Employees have access to an online reporting tool that allows them to report the instance and lists various resources to direct students to, including the 24-hour SAFE hotline and the University Health Center.
Assistant Director for Orientation Programs Keith Frazee said, “We share the safe.uoregon.edu website with all new students multiple times during their orientation and transition to the UO. From that site, options for reporting and support seem clear, and I sincerely hope those most needing the information are able to access it easily.”
Last year, a similar policy was drafted but failed in the senate by one vote. The policy focused more on the administrators rather than the survivors, which prompted a group of students to give “a very impassioned testimony about how their experience [under the previous policy] traumatized them, and how the policy that was proposed at the time would not change things substantially,” said Senate President Chris Sinclair.
The Senate responded by creating the policy that is in effect today, which aims to empower survivors and grant them autonomy.
“I want students to feel empowered, to seek help [and] to know that we are here and interested in helping them be successful and completing their education and achieving their goals,” Heroy stated.
Follow Hannah Kanik on Twitter: @hannah_kanik
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