Safety at UNI

FAQs for Policy 13.02 Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct

REPORTING

Q. 1. Why is it important to report?

The University provides a variety of resources to assist individuals who have experienced discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct to address the effects of the incident and to help them determine whether and how to make a formal complaint about the incident. The Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinators will provide information on options for obtaining advocacy, medical and counseling services, and making criminal reports, and will assist with providing information on other resources.

Resource-related information can be found in Section VIII of the Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy and at safety.uni.edu. Reporting is not the same thing as filing a complaint and/or criminal charges. Reporting assists the victim in obtaining resources and information in order to make informed decisions. Reporting also assists the Title IX office in identifying and addressing patterns of predation, violence or threat which may endanger other members of the campus community.

Q. 2. My responsibility to report interferes with my ability to cover necessary topics in my syllabus. How do I reconcile my responsibility with the academic content of my course?

The policy is not meant to inhibit or prohibit educational content or discussions inside or outside of the classroom that include germane but controversial or sensitive subject matters. Information obtained through classroom discussions and/or research activity are not reportable. While this information is not reportable, it would be most helpful to convey information in a syllabus to allow students to know ahead of time that topics discussed in class have the potential of triggering personal and emotional responses. The syllabus statement should refer students to the appropriate resources. (See Sample Syllabus Statement below.) If you’re ever unsure of how to handle something, consult with the Title IX Officer or a Title IX Deputy Coordinator.

Q. 3. What if information about someone’s personal experience comes out during a course discussion or through a written paper?

While this information is not reportable, it would be most helpful to convey information in a syllabus to allow students to know ahead of time that topics discussed in class have the potential of triggering personal and emotional responses. The syllabus statement should refer students to the appropriate resources. If you’re ever unsure of how to handle something, consult with the Title IX Officer or a Title IX Deputy Coordinator.

SAMPLE SYLLABUS STATEMENT:

Content in this class has the potential to be disturbing to some individuals based on life experiences. If you ever feel the need to step out of the classroom or decline participation in an activity, please request an alternative learning experience.

Non-discrimination policy: UNI Policy makes clear: "The University of Northern Iowa adheres to all federal and state civil rights laws banning discrimination in public institutions of higher education. The University prohibits discrimination against any employee, applicant for employment, student or applicant for admission on the basis of any protected class. Protected classes include: age, color, creed, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran or military status, or any other protected category under applicable federal, state, or local law, including protections for those opposing discrimination or participating in any complaint process on campus or with other human rights agencies." For additional information, contact the Office of Compliance and Equity Management, 117 Gilchrist Hall, 273-2846.

Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. The UNI Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy outlines prohibited conduct and reporting processes. All University employees who are aware of or witness discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, or retaliation are required to promptly report to the Title IX Officer or a Title IX Deputy Coordinator. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can find the appropriate resources here:

Title IX Officer Leah Gutknecht, Assistant to the President for Compliance and Equity Management, 117 Gilchrist, 319.273.2846, leah.gutknecht@uni.edu

Title IX deputy coordinator: Christina Roybal, Sr. Associate Athletic Director Athletics Administration, North DOME 319.273.2556, christina.roybal@uni.edu

Resources that provide free, confidential counseling are detailed at safety.uni.edu.

Q. 4. What if my research involves collecting information about related issues? Is that reportable information?

No, the information collected for research purposes is not reportable. While this information is not reportable, participants need to be provided warning that participation in this research may lead to personal and emotional responses. Participants should be provided with appropriate referral resources. For sample language, see the Sample Syllabus Statement above and/or refer participants to the safety.uni.edu. site and Section VIII of the Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy for a complete listing of resources.

Q. 5. If the incident I know of happened off campus, do I still need to report?

The policy applies to allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation that take place on UNI property or at university-sponsored events, regardless of their location. The policy may also apply to allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation that occur off-campus or to actions online when the Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinator determines that the off-campus or online conduct could have an on-campus impact or impact on the educational mission of the University.

Q. 6. What if the accused is not affiliated with UNI?

The University’s response may be limited if the respondent was a guest or is not subject to the University’s jurisdiction. Regardless, we still want and need to provide resources to the complainant and/or victim.

Q. 7. When making a report, do I have to give the Title IX team all of the information I have? What if the person sharing with me does not want their identity revealed?

When a report is made, personally identifiable information (name of victim, name of respondent, etc.) may be initially withheld in cases where the victim is hesitant to come forward. In circumstances involving the need to provide interim actions to the victim, the name may be necessary to carry out such actions. The University Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinator will conduct an initial inquiry, looking for any sign of pattern, predation, violence, or threat. When such exists, institutional action may be required in an effort to ensure campus safety. Subsequently, campus officials may need additional information.

Q. 8. How do I know when the information I have rises to the level of needing to report? If it is something very small, must I still report?

Generally speaking, do not hesitate to report. Title IX officials can help you assess the seriousness of each individual situation. If you are aware of a single and/or minor incident, it may not be reportable if it does not rise to the level of impacting the educational and working environment for members of our campus community. However, if there is reason to suspect that this may be a pattern of behavior and/or that others may have reported this same type of behavior displayed by the same individual, your report could help piece together a pattern of egregious behavior. If there is any potential for violence, threat, pattern, or predation, please report immediately.

Q. 9. Are Peer Mentors considered responsible employees in terms of reporting requirements?

No, Peer Mentors are not employed by the University and are not considered responsible employees. However, any student who is aware of or who witnesses discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, or retaliation is encouraged to promptly report to the Title IX Officer or a Title IX Deputy Coordinator.

Q. 10. Are Resident Assistants (RAs) considered responsible employees in terms of reporting requirements?

Yes, RAs are considered responsible employees in terms of reporting requirements.

Q. 11. Are student employees considered responsible employees in terms of reporting requirements?

Yes, student employees are considered responsible employees in terms of reporting requirements while in the context of their employment. If their knowledge of an incident is completely outside of the scope of their employment, they are encouraged but not required to report. If their knowledge of an incident is due to their role as a student employee, they are required to report.

Q. 12. Will my name be included if I report something?

Reports that contain complete information are the most helpful in terms of the ability of the University to respond effectively with interim actions, resources, options, information, and remedies. However, anonymous reporting is available at safety.uni.edu.

Investigative reports written by the investigator do not include names of individuals who serve as reporters, witnesses, or suppliers of information unless the individual is at the rank of department head/director or above. Such information is released only when required for administrative purposes or as a result of a legal requirement, e.g., a subpoena.

Q. 13. Does the policy require employees to report incidents in which they themselves are victims of harassment, discrimination, or misconduct?

No. Victims are encouraged, but not required to report. The University of Northern Iowa will make every effort to safeguard the identities of individuals who seek help and/or report discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. While steps are taken to protect the privacy of victims, the University may need to investigate an incident and take action once an allegation is known, whether or not the reporting individual chooses to pursue a complaint. The ability for the University to take action may be limited without the complainant’s involvement.

ANONYMOUS REPORTING.

Q. 14. Can I report anonymously?

Yes, anonymous reporting is available at safety.uni.edu. Reports that contain complete information are the most helpful in terms of the ability of the University to respond effectively with interim actions, resources, options, information, and remedies.

Q. 15. What if the complainant/victim wishes to remain anonymous?

The Title IX Officer and Deputy Coordinators accept anonymous and third-party reports of conduct alleged to violate this policy and will follow up on such reports. Anonymous reporting will fulfill employee reporting responsibilities. The individual making the report is encouraged to provide as much detailed information as possible to allow the Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinators to investigate and respond as appropriate. The University may be limited in its ability to investigate an anonymous or third party report unless sufficient information is provided. Reporting options, including Anonymous Reporting, are available at safety.uni.edu. In cases of third-party reporting, personally identifiable information (name of victim, name of respondent, etc.) may be withheld at the victim’s request. In circumstances involving serious danger of physical harm to members of the community, such as patterns of predation, violence, or threat, the Title IX Officer may subsequently require additional information.

All initial contacts will be treated with the maximum possible privacy: specific information on any report received by any party will be forwarded to the Title IX Officer, but, subject to the University’s obligation to investigate and redress violations, every reasonable effort will be made to maintain the privacy of those initiating a report or a complaint. In all cases, the University will give consideration to the complainant with respect to how the report is pursued but reserves the right, when necessary to protect the community, to investigate and pursue a resolution when an alleged victim chooses not to initiate or participate in a formal complaint.

POLICE REPORTING.

Q. 16. If I report to the Title IX team, is that the same as reporting it to the Police?

No, the criminal process is separate from the University process. In addition to required campus reporting, reports may also be made to the Police, especially if a crime is or may be involved. The Title IX team and the UNI Police, however, do keep each other apprised when receiving reports that may overlap between the two processes so as to minimize the impact on the parties and to assess the safety of campus as well as to coordinate resource referrals and interim measures. Police are required to issue timely warnings under certain circumstances. The Title IX team is required to take steps to eliminate the discrimination and/or harassment and remedy the impact. Neither process requires a victim to file charges or to participate in any investigation that may be deemed necessary.

Q. 17. If someone makes a report, are they obligated to file charges either with the Police and/or the University?

No, reports to police and/or Title IX officials do not obligate the complainant to file any criminal or university conduct charges.

TIMELY WARNINGS.

Q. 18. When is a timely warning required to be issued?

Victims of sexual misconduct should be aware that University administrators must issue crime alerts for incidents reported to them that represent a serious or continuing threat to students or employees. This is a Clery Act provision required of the University. The University will withhold a victim’s name and other identifying information while providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger.

VICTIM INVOLVEMENT IN INVESTIGATION.

Q. 19. Are there times an investigation moves forward without the consent of the victim?

The University of Northern Iowa will make every effort to safeguard the identities of individuals who seek help and/or report discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. While steps are taken to protect the privacy of victims, the University may need to investigate an incident and take action once an allegation is known, whether or not the reporting individual chooses to pursue a complaint. The ability for the University to take action may be limited without the complainant’s involvement.

Q. 20. What triggers the Title IX team to launch an investigation?

An investigation will be pursued if there is sufficient information to suggest a policy violation may exist, a pattern of misconduct, and/or a perceived threat of further harm to the community or any of its members.

OPTIONS FOR REPORTING AND RESOLUTION.

Q. 21. Are there options for how a complaint can be handled?

Yes, the options for filing a report include anonymous and third party reporting, confidential reporting, private reporting, formal reporting, and criminal reporting. The policy also offers opportunities for an informal resolution process as well as a formal resolution process, depending on the circumstances. See the Complaint Resolution Process for additional details on these options.

RIGHTS OF COMPLAINANTS AND RESPONDENTS.

Q. 22. What rights exist for the Complainants and Respondents?

Both complainants and respondents will be afforded the following rights under the policy:

  • To be treated with respect by University officials

  • To take advantage of campus support resources (such as Counseling Services and University Health Services for students, or EAP services for employees)

  • To experience a safe educational and work environment

  • To have an advisor (students) or representative (employees) during this process

  • To refuse to have an allegation resolved through informal procedures

  • To be free from retaliation

  • To have complaints heard in substantial accordance with these procedures

  • To reasonable and necessary participation in the process

  • To be informed in writing of the outcome of the complaint and, where permissible, sanctions, and the rationale for the outcome

HELPING OTHERS.

Q. 23. How can I help someone who has come to me to share their experience?

If you are an employee, you may learn of an incident of sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, or stalking in the course of your work. A student or colleague might share an experience with you as a friend, a trusted adviser, or someone in a position to provide needed assistance. If you are a student, you may learn of an incident from a friend, through peers, or even in a class. How you respond is very important and may determine whether a victim/survivor chooses to tell anyone else or seek professional assistance. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Listen and do not judge. Do not probe for details.

  • Know your ability to maintain privacy versus confidentiality. Be clear with the individual.

  • Let them take the lead. Let them retain control of the conversation.

  • Avoid unsolicited touching and personal contact.

  • Encourage them to seek the assistance of a victim advocate.

  • Assist them in seeking medical attention if they are willing to do so.

It is common to be uncertain about how much and what type of assistance it is appropriate to provide. For example, you may want "to get to the bottom of it" or confront the accused, especially if the accused is someone with whom you are acquainted or if you feel a personal connection with the victim/survivor. Resist this inclination. University policy prohibits unauthorized "investigations" or other attempts to informally resolve reports of sexual misconduct. Even with good intentions, you may exacerbate a situation or compromise a future investigation. We also do not want to re-victimize the victim by making them tell their story multiple times. Make use of the appropriate resources. Refer to safety.uni.edu for available resources and reporting options.

Be clear about your role and ability to help (including whether or not you can maintain confidentiality). Do not promise confidentiality you may not be able to keep. Know and be clear about your responsibilities before someone tells you every detail of his/her/their experience. If they’ve already divulged details before you can inform them of your reporting responsibility, let them know as soon as you are able. Assure them you can help guide them to a confidential source but that you will need to file a report. If they object, do not divulge their name in the report.

Get the person to someone who can help. A confidential victim advocate is a great place to start. An advocate may accompany someone to make a report to the police and/or the Title IX team. Listen for safety concerns/ask about safety.

As an employee, you may be in a position to provide assistance by providing an interim measure like an extension on an assignment or an excused absence from class. If someone needs interim assistance, don't hesitate to contact the Title IX team. They can assist employees who are trying to assess what constitutes a reasonable approach. You can initially consult about providing assistance without giving names or other identifying information

Q. 24. What if someone approaches me for help because they have been accused?

Everyone is afforded the right to due process when accused of a policy violation or a crime. Serving as a resource for people accused of misconduct is not taking sides, rather, it is one critical way you can help to ensure safety and respect for all parties involved. Consult with the Title IX team on how you can help provide resources to that person.

Q. 25. A student/colleague wants to speak with me in confidence. They are reluctant to come forward. What do I do?

If a reporting party would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, direct the reporting party to counselors, health service providers, victim services advocates, domestic violence resources, local or state assistance agencies, or members of the clergy who are permitted by law to maintain confidentiality (except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or abuse of a minor). UNI counselors for students and/or the Employee Assistance Program for employees are available to help free of charge and can be seen on an emergency basis.

Explain what your reporting obligations are and help the reporting party make decisions about who is in the best position to help. Assure them that if personally identifiable information is shared, it will be shared with as few people as possible under the circumstances and efforts will be made to protect privacy to the greatest extent reasonably possible.

Assure the reporting party that what they have to share is important and you want to help get them the help they need. Direct them to safety.uni.edu for information on resources, options, and reporting. A confidential victim services advocate is often the best place for a reporting party to start. If the reporting party is physically harmed, they may choose to go to a medical facility. If the reporting party is in immediate danger, they may wish to connect with the Police. All of these options (plus more) are included at safety.uni.edu.

Q. 26. How does the University protect employees from retaliation if they make a good faith report of suspected discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct?

Policy 13.02 (Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct) specifically prohibits retaliation and protects individuals who have participated in any way in the reporting, investigation, or resolution of a complaint of discrimination, harassment, and/or sexual misconduct. Other forms of retaliation are addressed in Policy 13.19, Retaliation and Misconduct Reporting Policy.