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New online reporting form allows students to report sexual harassment anonymously

Sexual Violence and Gender-Harassment Incident Reporting Form aims to increase access to Title IX Office

The Title IX Office introduced a new method of reporting incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence or gender-based discrimination on its website Dec. 10, 2020. The online Sexual Violence and Gender-Harassment Incident Reporting Form aims to provide an easy mechanism to report incidents, Title IX Program Officer Rene Davis wrote in an email to The Herald.

The form “adds an easily accessed and direct line of communication to the Title IX Office,” Davis wrote. 

The form allows students to report descriptions of incidents, concerns and involved persons, such as alleged aggressors, harmed individuals and witnesses, as well as the desired response from the Title IX Office. Students can also opt to make their reports anonymous.

The information submitted through the online form is only accessible to the staff in the Title IX Office, Davis wrote. 

The idea for the form, which was designed by Davis, materialized following feedback generated from the 2019 Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct. At the University, 31.2 percent of students surveyed had “little or no knowledge” about where to make a report of sexual violence or gender harassment whereas 30.4 percent were “very or extremely knowledgeable.”

The Sexual Violence and Gender-Harassment Incident Reporting Form is a new addition to the variety of resources available to students, and reporting mechanisms are also available through the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, according to Davis.

The form was born out of conversations with student governance groups and suggestions from student activist organizations, Davis wrote.  

President of student group Cultivating Upstanders for Sexual Assault Prevention Natalie Fredman ’21 said that “it’s absolutely wonderful” that the new online form provides more options for students to report, especially for those who find it more comfortable to report online rather than meet with someone or talk over the phone. 

Fredman added that the form might make it easier for mandatory reporters, like Residential Peer Advisors, to inform the Title IX Office of incidents.

Amanda Cooper ’22, a member of the outreach team for Voices of Brown — an Instagram account where students can submit stories of sexual violence to be published anonymously on the page — said that she was excited to see the form be made available to the University community. Cooper said she saw students on social media responding positively to the form and that students see it as an effective outlet for expressing experiences with sexual violence.

The option to anonymously report incidents through the online form “can feel liberating” for survivors, Cooper added. 

Cooper said the online form streamlines the “dense” amount of information on reporting incidents of sexual harassment through the Title IX Office, in a way that facilitates students’ comfort disclosing their experiences with sexual violence. 

The online form is not the same as a formal complaint to the Title IX Office, Davis noted. While a formal complaint requests engagement in a resolution process, the Sexual Violence and Gender-Harassment Incident Reporting Form does not require that an individual engages in this process — though they have the option to if they would like to request an investigation. 

A submission through the reporting form, in addition to sharing an incident, can also serve as a request for support, Davis wrote. The online form links reporting parties to confidential support resources like Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education advocates. 

The ability to use an online form may help in reducing barriers, like shame and confidentiality concerns, that exist for student survivors of harm, SHARE advocates Alana Sacks and Elliot Ruggles wrote in an email to The Herald. 

They added that the online form may also better facilitate survivors’ access to physical and psychological assistance from medical and mental health professionals.

“Additional culturally-specific and systemic barriers to reporting exist for people with minoritized identities, such as Black and Indigenous women, disabled folks, LGBTQ and specifically trans survivors, who are also known to experience sexual violence at higher rates,” Sacks and Ruggles wrote.

Any steps we can take to reduce barriers to reporting and to center marginalized populations,” they wrote, “can help us be more comprehensive and effective in dealing with interpersonal violence.” 


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