The University of Wisconsin would like to add some additional information in conjunction with a recently published editorial.
The University of Wisconsin’s goal is for every survivor to have the information and resources they need to make the decisions that are best for them. We appreciate the opportunity to share what the university has been doing in response to concerns from students and others, to develop reporting tools and interventions that meet the needs of our entire campus population.
We were very appreciative of a donor’s interest in funding a third-party reporting product and gave it a thorough study, including a review by student, faculty and staff stakeholders. But we determined that it did not meet UW’s needs in a number of ways.
Perhaps most importantly, many survivors who contact the Title IX Program do not want to pursue a formal investigation. When survivors simply want to access support resources, they are not required to submit detailed descriptions of their experiences. Directing survivors to a third-party product to submit a detailed report may needlessly add to their trauma.
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Survivors deserve as much information as possible about their reporting options before they enter into a complicated and sometimes confusing process.
This is why we recommend that survivors speak with confidential resources or have an informational meeting with the Title IX Program about options before they submit a formal report. If survivors then choose to pursue a formal investigation, they have the option to submit their initial report electronically at go.wisc.edu/report. The reporting link can be found on the front page of the Title IX website under “Report an Incident.”
Finally, the product’s format and the report questions are focused on sexual assault among students. UW wants to ensure that dedicated time and resources are also serving those who have experienced sexual harassment, dating violence and stalking. Additionally, we want to know that our graduate students, staff and faculty are also being provided with appropriate information and reporting options. Sending community members to a website that is not designed for their particular situation would create confusion and uncertainty, and potentially dissuade them from reporting.
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It’s also important to understand that in the year since this decision was made, UW has acted on the feedback we received during the evaluation of this product and used it to make a number of improvements. We have created a Campus Resource Guide, updated the Title IX website to make it easier to navigate, and centralized outreach and support. Additionally, after several months of additional work, UW is now preparing to roll out a new database this spring, which will help us enhance our oversight of reports from employees as well as students.
Particularly in a critical area such as sexual assault and misconduct, a product should be chosen not based on a funder’s preference but because it best meets the needs of our campus.
We are committed to continuing to assess and enhance our reporting and support options for survivors. Our goal is for every survivor to have the information and resources they need to make the decisions that are best for them.
Lauren Hasselbacher ([email protected]) is the University of Wisconsin Title IX Coordinator.
Jamie Temple is the UHS Victim Advocate and Survivor Services Coordinator.
Argyle Wade ([email protected]) is the Interim Dean of Students.