How Faculty and Staff Can Help
The Office of Civil Rights and Title IX (CRTIX) is committed to supporting you and your students who have reported to you possible sexual misconduct. Whether the perpetrator is a member of our university community or not, there are resources available to help the student decide what they would like to do to best address the incident.
The safety of the student is always the first priority. The decision to file a formal complaint, whether with CRTIX or with the proper authorities, or to only seek supportive measures and access to resources, is entirely up to the victim.
A student should never be pressured into determining the course of action they want to pursue. Whether they wish to move forward with an informal resolution or with a full and complete investigation, or do nothing at this time, the victim’s wishes should be honored and supported.
If a student discloses to you an incident of sexual misconduct:
FIRST: LISTEN AND SUPPORT
- Listen without judgment.
- Avoid statements that may imply fault or responsibility for what happened.
- Offer empathy: “I’m sorry this happened to you. Thank you for telling me. It must be difficulty to talk about.”
- If the students asks you “not to tell anyone,” it is important to let the student know your reporting obligations. Offer to continue talking to them or get them connected with a confidential resource:
“I’m glad you want to talk to me about a concern and that you feel comfortable speaking with me about something that I can see may be difficult to talk about. I want to make sure you understand my role here. I will do everything I can to protect your privacy but depending on what you tell me I may need to inform the Title IX coordinator of everything you are about to tell me.”
“I am happy to talk to you more about your concerns, however if you aren’t sure of whether you want this reported, I can help connect you with someone on campus who can assure you a higher level of confidentiality.”
“My main concern is your safety and well-being, so I want to ensure you understand what my role might be in the process. I am happy to listen more if you feel comfortable speaking with me further.”
- Do not promise confidentiality. Depending on the facts (active safety threat to the community, for example), you may be required to share what the student reports to you.
- If the student wants to tell you what happened but also wants to maintain confidentiality, you should tell them that the university will consider the request, but cannot guarantee that the university will be able to honor it. In reporting details of the incident to the Title IX coordinator, you will also inform the Title IX coordinator of the victim’s request for confidentiality.
SECOND: REFER and CONNECT
- Ask if they want to speak with a Confidential Resources, such as University Health Services and/or University Counseling Center, or Campus Interfaith Ministries.
- Encourage them to review the available on-campus and off-campus resources.
“I think you may be about to disclose an incident of sexual misconduct. Before you tell me details, I want to explain to you what your reporting options are, as well as explain confidential resources.”
THIRD: CONTACT CRTIX
- The goal of your conversation with the student is to help them understand their options so they can make an informed choice about how to move forward. Explain that:
- Once the Title IX coordinator is made aware of an incident, a member of the team will reach out to the student to ensure they are safe, offer support and resources, and inform them of their options. The student is not required to provide any information about what happened or meet with a Title IX staff member.
- The CRTIX team’s primary goal is to ensure the student’s safety, offer resources and supportive measures (room change, class schedule change, etc.) and to help resolve the matter thoroughly, respectfully and as equitably as possible for all involved individuals.
- It is the student’s choice whether to file a formal complaint with CRTIX or a criminal complaint with authorities, unless there is an immediate threat to the university community.
“I am very sorry to hear about what occurred. I want to assure you that we will handle this matter in a sensitive manner and that we take these concerns extremely seriously. I want to let you know that I have a responsibility to inform the Title IX coordinator who can help address your concerns and ensure we are responding appropriately. Someone will contact you soon to inform you of your options. Please know that any response will be guided by what you would like to do.”
Some faculty and staff members have been designated as Responsible Employees:
- Certain high-level and supervisory employees—including vice chancellors, vice provosts, deans, department heads and chairs, faculty directors of centers and institutes, faculty who directly oversee student activities sanctioned by the university—employees specifically tasked with responding to incidents or sexual harassment and violence are Responsible Employees for Title IX purposes and must report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator. This also includes staff members who have one or more employees, including student employees, reporting to them, and those staff members employed in the Division of Student Affairs.
- Responsible Employees must provide reporting students with information regarding all available campus resources and reporting options.
- All faculty and staff members, regardless of Responsible Employee status, are encouraged to report instances of potential sexual discrimination, harassment, or misconduct to the campus Title IX coordinator.
For more information about resources and other ways to assist students, please review UMass Boston Faculty and Staff Crisis Resources: Recognizing and Helping Students in Crisis..