University Advancement

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CSUN's Katherine Lorenz: Mandatory Reporting Can Trigger Investigation Without Survivors’ Consent

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in higher education to enforce that no one be “excluded from participation in, or be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity” on the basis of sex. U.S. higher education institutions that receive federal funding must comply with Title IX guidelines, which includes responding to allegations of sexual violence (including harassment and assault) with a prompt grievance process that is fair to both parties. Up until Betsy DeVos’s modifications to the guidelines established in the Obama-era 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, Title IX required institutions to have a mandated reporting process as part of their mechanism of responding to sexual violence allegations. Mandated reporting requires that any disclosure of sexual violence made to a higher education employee (e.g., faculty, staff, coaches, graduate workers) who is designated as a responsible employee must be promptly reported to the Title IX office at that institution. Mandated reporting policies, while packaged as a supportive mechanism to prevent allegations of sexual violence from being “swept under the rug” by campus administrators, in practice have usually been an agent of controlling survivor narratives at the threat of disciplinary action for university employees who receive these disclosures and a mechanism for silencing survivors.


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