How to Handle Mandatory Reporting
As a staff or faculty member of the CU community, you play many different roles. Sometimes, however, those roles can come into conflict. For instance, because you are a visible and trusted person in the community students are likely to come to you for advice, assistance or support. However, if a student discloses that they have been the victim of a crime, you may have a duty to report. Below you will findinformation on the CU mandatory reporting policy, who is a mandatory reporter, and some basic tips and information on how to handle mandatory reporting situations in a trauma informed way. If you have further questions, please contact the Office of Victim Assistance (303-492-8855) or the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, 303-492-2127 or click here.
Why do you have to report?
It is the policy of the University of Colorado Boulder, that all "responsible employees" who become aware of protected class discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct (including sexual assault, intimate partner abuse, and stalking) or related retaliation, to promptly report it to the Office of Institutional equity and Compliance (OIEC). Staff in offices that hold legal confidentiality privileges (such as Office of Victim Assistance) are exempted from this reporting policy.
Who is a "responsible employee"? Any employee who: (1) has the authority to hire, promote, discipline, evaluate, grade, formally advise or direct faculty, staff or students; (2) has the authority to take action to redress discrimination or harassment; and/or (3) has been given the duty of reporting incidents of discrimination or harassment to the OIEC. This definition does not include any medical, mental health, counseling or Ombuds Office personnel, in addition to any other offices covered by a statutory privilege or designated in campus procedures as not subject to mandatory reporting to the university.
How do I tell a student that I have to report?
- Support First: If a student discloses something you believe may be a crime, offer support first. Let the student know that you are there to help them. Acknowledge the experience and inform them of resources they can access for support. Please click here for tips on providing support.
- Explain your obligation to report: Explain to the student that while you recognize they are dealing with a difficult situation, you have an obligation to report the information the Office on Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC). Inform them that they may be contacted by an OIEC investigator and it is their choice if they would like to talk to them or not. In addition please let them know that they may receive outreach from OVA, which is a separate office from OIEC. It is important to highlight that OVA is confidential.
What do I do if the student gets upset?
The idea of this situation being shared with others may be upsetting or unexpected to some. Some may fear that the situation will get out of control or that other people will find out. Assure the student that:
- They won’t lose all control:The student can choose who they do and do not want to meet or talk with. Just because a report has been made the student still has a choice on if they want to engage in the process.
- They can choose to have accompaniment when meeting with OIEC or police: Victim Advocates who are experienced with legal, judicial and medical systems can be called to accompany victims and victim-witnesses in all meetings.
- Tell them you will not be telling everyone what they have disclosed:Let the student know that you will not disclose their information to anyone who does not need to know (such as friends, other classmates, RA’s etc.)
- There are confidential resources to help: provide the student with information for the confidential offices on campus. Please click here on more information on how to connect a student with the Office of Victim Assistance.
“I think I know where you are going with this…”
If you suspect that a student might be getting ready to tell you that they have been the victim of a crime you might consider doing the following:
- Say to the student: “I think I know where you are going with this.While I absolutely want to support and listen to you, I need to let you know that I may not be able to keep your information confidential.If this is something that you don’t want anyone else to know about we can call somebody right now who is confidential.” Make sure you let the student know that you want them to be heard!
- If the student agrees you can contact the Office of Victim Assistance, 303-492-8855, an advocate can meet with the student in our offices, or come to you.
"Don’t use names…"
If a student feels they cannot wait to talk to a confidential staff person you might consider doing the following:
- Ask the student to talk generally to you about the situation and encourage them to not give the names of the people involved.You will still be required to report but she/he will maintain a greater level of control over the situation.
- Encourage the student to make contact with a confidential office for support and resources.