Turning to a trusted authority figure for guidance and support is often one of the first steps students take after experiencing trauma. As syllabus week comes to a close, however, students might not know that, according to Title IX, faculty members are “mandated reporters,” obligated to relay their conversations to the university’s Title IX coordinators.
While faculty members may initially be able to omit personally identifiable information — like the name of the victim, location, the name of the accused individual and other identifying details — the amount of detail needed on any report is ultimately up to the Title IX coordinator.
Currently, professors are not required to notify their students that they are mandated reporters. Students have a right to know which Georgetown community members are mandated reporters so they can make autonomous and informed decisions about what they share — and also know that they have someone to turn to, in the first place.
Discussing a traumatic experience with a mentor or authority figure represents an important step toward healing, but these conversations can unravel and re-traumatize an individual if a student encounters a sometimes-unwanted string of incident reports instead of support.
The Main Campus Executive Faculty should require professors to inform students that they are, in fact, mandatory reporters. While students are still checking their syllabi, each professor should include a clause in his syllabus that describes exactly what this role entails. Additionally, professors should use this space to direct students to confidential support services on campus, such as Jen Schweer or the DC Rape Crisis Center.
The university has made a commitment to care for every student, and it cannot do so if students are unaware of who they can turn to for counsel in times of need. These changes would be the first steps toward creating a more transparent university climate, preventing students from unknowingly entangling themselves in a web of unwanted reporting.
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