On Mandatory Reporting

Faculty SAFE UNM is working with various stakeholders at UNM to update and refine current and future policies on sexual misconduct at UNM. One of the most important elements of those policies involves “mandatory reporting.” Legal mandates require that UNM comply with Title IX and the Clery Act, as well as other legal policies, to provide avenues for support and reporting. And like others at UNM, we are dedicated not only to compliance, but to best practices that ensure safe, victim-centered, trauma-informed policies at UNM.

Currently, UNM’s policy requires all staff and faculty to report any information they receive directly to the OEO (see OEO’s Title IX Reporting Obligations). But in the process of our research, we are persuaded by specialists in sexual violence and interpersonal trauma who argue that anyone who comes forward with an experience of sexual violence or sexual misconduct must have full control over that information and decide whether or not their personal experience is disclosed to any office or authority, including Title IX coordinators and OEO offices. As trauma scholar Dr. Jennifer Freyd observes, “Taking away autonomy from a survivor of sexual violence is a further betrayal of that survivor. Rather than help a survival heal, institutional rules for required reporting can actually further victimize survivors of sexual violence.” Therefore, Faculty SAFE UNM has recommended that UNM revise the current policy in order to follow the recommendations from specialists.

Moreover, as legal scholars have shown, Title IX does not require that all faculty and staff become mandatory reporters. Rather, the law requires that universities and colleges ensure that those who are “responsible employees” are accountable and should be mandatory reporters. Here, “responsible employees” are employees who have the authority to take action to redress sexual violence; who have been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX coordinator or other appropriate school designee; or whom a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.

Faculty SAFE UNM believes that UNM needs mandatory reporting for those in positions of supervision or leadership. We also believe that universal (as in “all employees”) mandatory reporting is detrimental to victims and has chilling effects whereby those experiencing sexual violence and sexual misconduct seek support from staff and faculty. Therefore, Faculty SAFE UNM proposes that UNM revises their current policy of universal mandatory reporting whereby only supervisory positions will be required mandatory reporters, and all other employees will be required to: become proficient in UNM’s policies on sexual misconduct; be prepared to provide resources and support to anyone who comes to them for help, following the guidelines by OEO, Lobo Respect, and Title IX online training; and assist people to contact the OEO, UNM Confidential Advocacy Centers (such as Lobo Respect or the Women’s Resource Center), UNM mental health centers (such a SHAC or CARS), local sexual misconduct and sexual violence providers (such as SANE and the Rape Crisis Center), and/or Albuquerque police.

We are not the only faculty group that is concerned with the ways in which universities and colleges are implementing universal mandatory reporting. Rather, we join a large number of groups throughout the U.S. that are calling for trauma-informed, victim-centered practices. For more information, please see the links below:

  1. Federal Compliance:
    1. Department of Justice, Overview of Title IX
    2. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, “Dear Colleague” letter, 2011 and “Questions and Answers on title IX and Sexual Violence,” 2014
  2. Positions taken by National Associations:
    1. AAUP “The History, Uses and Abuses of Title IX” (2016)
      1. Executive Summary & Recommended Best Practices from AAUP Report
    2. National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA): Leora D. Freedman, “Faculty as Responsible Employees: To Be or Not to Be,” NACUA 2015 Annual Conference, pp. 9-18
    3. NAESV National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, “Survivor Survey on Mandatory Reporting” (2016).
  3. Clinical Psychology, Legal, and Health Research:
    1. Jennifer Freyd, “Scholarly and Scientific Research Relevant to Required Reporting,” maintained by Dr. Freyd’s clinical psychology lab at the University of Oregon
    2. Jill C. Engle, “Mandatory Reporting Of Campus Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence: Moving To A Victim-Centric Protocol That Comports With Federal Law,” Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review (Spring 2015)
    3. Kelly Parsley, “Mandatory Reporting: Harmful?” National Sexual Assault Conference, 2016
    4. Special Issue on Institutional Betrayal and Betrayal Trauma, The Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, Volume 26 (2017).  
  4. Debating Mandatory Reporting across the U.S.:
    1.  Jennifer Freyd, “The Problem with “Required Reporting” Rules for Sexual Violence on Campus,” The Huffington Post (2016)
    2. Jennifer Freyd, “Required Supporting Instead of Required Reporting” The Huffington Post (2016)
    3. Colleen Flaherty, “Endangering a Trust: Faculty Members Object To New Policies Requiring All Professors Be Mandatory Reporters,” Inside Higher Ed (2015)
    4. Scott Cannon, “Professors Worry Mandatory Reporting Will Keep Students Quiet…,” Kansas City Star (2015)
    5. Matt Barry, “Mandatory Reporting Sparks Debate,” The Knox Student (2014)
    6. Tyler Kingkade, “Professors are Being Forced To Reveal Sexual Assault Confidences, Like it or Not,” The Huffington Post (2016)
  5. Alternative and Best Practices on Mandatory Reporting
    1. List of universities with non-universal mandatory reporting policies
    2. The University of Oregon, Leading Best Practices
      1. Emily Olson, “UO Senate Workgroup To Narrow Approach To Responsible Employee Sexual Assault Reporting,” Daily Emerald (2016)
      2. Kelly Kenoyer, “Proposed UO Policy May Help Sexual Assault Victims,” Eugene Weekly (2016)
      3. UO Policy passed by Faculty Senate
      4. Miguel Sanchez-Rutledge, “Sexual Assault Reporting Policy Passes Senate,” Daily Emerald (2017)