Mandatory Reporter Resources
Virginia State University is known for caring, compassionate, and empathetic faculty and staff. The VSU Advocates want to support faculty and staff as they navigate how to best support students who experience sexual assault, harassment, discrimination, pregnancy, and parenting.
Sexual Misconduct, Harassment, Discrimination
Affirm: Whether you are responsible or confidential employee, you should offer support and acknowledge the person's decision to share this information with you. Here is an example of what you can say:
“Thank you for sharing this with me. It saddens me to hear that this happened to you. I care about you, and I want to support you.”
Interrupt & Inform: If you are a Responsible Employee, gently interrupt and inform them that you are required to report any information shared with you to Title IX. Give them the option to share information. If they wish to talk to a confidential support person, refer them to a confidential resource like VSU Advocates, Employee Assistance Program, Counseling Services.
“Before you continue, I just want to remind you that I am a Responsible Employee and if you share information about sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, I am mandated to report that to Title IX. If you prefer to speak with me, I am happy to listen. I just want to make sure you have all the information in order to make an informed decision about sharing.”
Remind the student that acts of sexual misconduct such as sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking are never the fault of the student. Thank the student for telling you what happened and reassure him/her. Share that you have information about resources on campus or off campus which might be useful. Please refrain from pressuring them to access resources. Inform the student that the University wants to help, and there are people on campus who can help the student feel safe. Offer to accompany the student or arrange an appointment.
“I hope you understand that what happened to you should have never happened and it is not your fault.”
“Would you like me to walk with you to speak to someone in the Counseling Center or Title IX or Police?”
Advise the student that there may be times when the University must take action against a perpetrator, even if that is against the student’s wishes. If a victim does not wish for their name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place, or does not want a formal resolution to be pursued, the victim may make such a request to the Title IX Coordinator, who will evaluate that request in light of the duty to ensure the safety of the campus and comply with federal law. In cases indicating pattern, predation, threat, weapons and/or violence, the University will likely be unable to honor a request for confidentiality. In cases where the victim requests confidentiality and the circumstances allow the University to honor that request, the University will offer interim supports and remedies to the victim and the community, but will not otherwise pursue formal action. A reporting party has the right, and can expect, to have reports taken seriously by the University when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through these procedures.
Failure of a non-confidential employee, as described in this section, to report an incident or incidents of sex or gender harassment or discrimination of which they become aware, is a violation of univeristy policy and can be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply with university policies.
Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
- Be sure to include University anti-discrimination policies and accommodations in your syllabus
Consider including a “content warning” in your syllabus and lectures. Content warnings, also known as trigger warnings, are statements that alert participants that they are about to view, discuss, or listen to material that may elicit a distressing or traumatic response. Content can affect people differently, as each person has a variety of lived experiences. Content warnings can help people, including those who are survivors of violence, to feel more prepared to face the content or choose to disengage from it. Content warnings do not prohibit respectful dialogue. The main goal of content warnings are to give individuals options and help them feel safer.
Below is sample language for a syllabus:
“If you need to talk to someone about your experiences, please do not hesitate to contact any of the following FREE services: VSU Advocacy Program, (804) xxx-xxxx; VSU Counseling Center (804) 524-5939; The Greater Richmond Regional Hotline (804) 612-6126 or the LGBTQ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Help Line (866) 356-6998. Some of the topics in this class are sensitive topics which many of us have either experienced ourselves or known someone who experienced it. Please take care of yourself and your own needs, and ask for help if you need it. While personal experiences may arise in discussion, the classroom is not intended to serve as a support group if class material triggers issues you may still be facing. Graphic material may be shared via audio or visual mediums. Advance content warning will be provided. Students are encouraged to exercise self-care as needed.”
Respond to the individual
- While the situation may be similar to another student, remember that each student’s experience and details are unique. When providing support to the student, remind them they are expert of their situation and should make decisions that are best for them.
Work around absences
- Students who are pregnant, parenting, and/or experiencing a trauma such as sexual assault, discrimination or harassment will have various reasons to not attend class. Remind your students that exceptions can be made and they should contact you via email or during office hours to discuss exceptions and methods to make up assignments.
- When a student is unable to attend class, consider allowing them to meet with you via phone or video chat, or allow the student to plan far enough in advance that they can make appropriate arrangements. Our goal is to have students graduate!
Provide appropriate interim measures or accommodations
- If the student has accommodations or interim measures, be sure to work with the student to adhere to those. Faculty and staff should never ask for medical information or information about why interim measures or accommodations are needed.
Be consistent & enforce zero-tolerance in your classroom
- VSU does not permit discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. If you witness or become aware of the latter, immediately report it to the VSU Title IX Coordinator.