Reporting Allegations: Confidentiality and Mandated Reporting
For the purpose of this policy, privacy and confidentiality have distinct meanings:
Privacy means that information related to a complaint will be shared with a limited number of University employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the assessment, investigation, and resolution of the report. All employees who are involved in the University’s response to notice under this policy receive specific training and guidance about sharing and safeguarding private information in accordance with state and federal law. The privacy of student education records will be protected in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and privacy of employee records will be protected in accordance with Human Resources policies.
Confidentiality exists in the context of laws that protect certain relationships. The law creates a privilege between certain health care providers, mental health care providers, attorneys, clergy, spouses, and others, with their patients, clients, parishioners, and spouses. Iowa Wesleyan University has designated individuals who have the ability to have privileged communications as Confidential Resources.
When information is shared by a Complainant with a Confidential Resource, the Confidential Resource cannot reveal the information to any third party except when an applicable law or a court order requires or permits disclosure of such information. For example, information may be disclosed when: (i) the individual gives written consent for its disclosure; (ii) there is a concern that the individual will likely cause serious physical harm to self or others; or (iii) the information concerns conduct involving suspected abuse or neglect of a minor under the age of 18, elders, and/or individuals with disabilities.
Non-identifiable information may be shared by Confidential Resources for statistical tracking purposes as required by the federal Clery Act. Other information may be shared as required by law. For more information, see the section of this policy on Confidential Resources.
All Iowa Wesleyan University employees (faculty, staff, and administrators) are expected to report actual or suspected discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation to appropriate officials immediately, although there are some limited exceptions.
In order to make informed choices, it is important to be aware of confidentiality and mandatory reporting requirements when consulting campus resources. On campus, some resources may maintain confidentiality and are not required to report actual or suspected discrimination or harassment in a way that identifies the parties. They may offer options and resources without any obligation to inform an outside agency or campus official unless a Complainant has requested the information be shared.
If a Complainant expects formal action in response to their allegations, reporting to any Mandated Reporter can connect them with resources to report crimes and/or policy violations, and these employees will immediately pass reports to the Title IX Coordinator (and/or police, if desired by the Complainant), who will take action when an incident is reported.
The following sections describe the reporting options at Iowa Wesleyan University for a Complainant or third-party (including parents/guardians when appropriate):
If a Complainant would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, the Complainant may speak with:
- On-campus licensed professional counselors
- On-campus health service providers
- Off-campus (non-employees):
- Licensed professional counselors and other medical providers
- Local rape crisis counselors
- Domestic violence resources
- Local or state assistance agencies
All of the above-listed individuals will maintain confidentiality when acting under the scope of their licensure, professional ethics, and/or professional credentials or official designation except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or abuse of a minor/elder or person with a disability, or when required to disclose by law or court order.
Campus counselors and/or the Employee Assistance Program are available to help free of charge and may be consulted on an emergency basis during normal business hours.
Employees who have confidential privilege as described above will submit anonymous statistical information for Clery Act purposes unless they believe it would be harmful to the client.
All employees of Iowa Wesleyan University (including Graduate Assistants, Teaching Assistants and Resident Advisors), with the exception of those listed above who are designated as Confidential Resources, are Mandated Reporters and must promptly share with the Title IX Coordinator all known details of a report made to them in the course of their employment.
Employees must also promptly share all details of behaviors under this policy that they observe or have knowledge of, even if not reported to them by a Complainant or third-party.
Complainants may want to carefully consider whether they share personally identifiable details with non-confidential Mandated Reporters, as those details must be shared with the Title IX Coordinator.
At the request of a Complainant, notice may be given by a Mandated Reporter to the Title IX Coordinator anonymously, without identification of the Complainant. The Mandated Reporter cannot remain anonymous themselves.
If a Complainant has requested that a Mandated Reporter maintain the Complainant’s anonymity, the Mandated Reporter may do so unless it is reasonable to believe that a compelling threat to health or safety could exist. The Mandated Reporter can consult with the Title IX Coordinator on that assessment without revealing personally identifiable information.
Anonymous notice will be investigated by Iowa Wesleyan University to the extent possible, both to assess the underlying allegation(s) and to determine if supportive measures or remedies could be provided.
However, anonymous notice typically limits the University’s ability to investigate, respond, and provide remedies, depending on what information is shared.
When a Complainant has made a request for anonymity, the Complainant’s personally identifiable information may be withheld by a Mandated Reporter, but all other details must be shared with the Title IX Coordinator. Mandated reporters may not be able to maintain requests for anonymity for Complainants who are minors, elderly, and/or disabled
Generally, disclosures in climate surveys, classroom writing assignments or discussions, human subjects research, or at events such as marches or speak-outs do not provide notice that must be reported to the Coordinator by employees, unless the Complainant clearly indicates that they desire a report to be made or a seek a specific response from the University. Supportive measures may be offered as the result of such disclosures without formal University action.
Failure of a Mandated Reporter, as described above in this section, to report an incident of harassment or discrimination of which they become aware is a violation of University policy and can be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply.
Though this may seem obvious, when a Mandated Reporter is engaged in harassment or other violations of this policy, they still have a duty to report their own misconduct, though Iowa Wesleyan University is technically not on notice simply because when a harasser is also a Mandated Reporter unless the harasser does in fact report themselves.
Finally, it is important to clarify that a Mandated Reporter who is themselves a target of harassment or other misconduct under this policy is not required to report their own experience, though they are, of course, encouraged to do so.
When a Complainant Does Not Wish to Proceed
If a Complainant does not wish for their name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place and/or does not want a formal complaint to be pursued, they 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 to comply with state or federal law.
The Title IX Coordinator has ultimate discretion over whether the University proceeds when the Complainant does not wish to do so, and the Title IX Coordinator may sign a formal complaint to initiate a grievance process usually upon completion of an appropriate violence risk assessment. The Title IX Coordinator’s decision should be based on results of the violence risk assessment that show a compelling risk to health and/or safety that requires the University to pursue formal action to protect the community. Often this would occur if there is a suspected pattern of unlawful conduct, a weapon was used, there is suspected predatory behavior, or an allegation that the Respondent is an employee and the Complainant is a student.
A compelling risk to health and/or safety may result from evidence of patterns of misconduct, predatory conduct, threats, abuse of minors, use of weapons, and/or violence. Iowa Wesleyan University may be compelled to act on alleged employee misconduct irrespective of a Complainant’s wishes.
The Title IX Coordinator must also consider the effect that non-participation by the Complainant may have on the availability of evidence and the University’s ability to pursue a Formal Grievance Process fairly and effectively.
When the Title IX Coordinator executes the written complaint, they do not become the Complainant. The Complainant is the individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute a violation of this policy.
When the University proceeds, the Complainant (and/or their Advisor) may have as much or as little involvement in the process as they wish. The Complainant retains all rights of a Complainant under this Policy irrespective of their level of participation. Typically, when the Complainant chooses not to participate, the Advisor may be appointed as proxy for the Complainant throughout the process, acting to ensure and protect the rights of the Complainant, though this does not extend to the provision of evidence or testimony.
Note that the University’s ability to remedy and respond to notice may be limited if the Complainant does not want the University to proceed with an investigation and/or grievance process. The goal is to provide the Complainant with as much control over the process as possible, while balancing the University’s obligation to protect its community.
In cases in which the Complainant requests confidentiality and/or no formal action and the circumstances allow the University to honor that request, the University may offer informal resolution options (see below), supportive measures, and remedies to the Complainant and the community, but will not otherwise pursue formal action.
If the Complainant elects to take no action, they can change that decision if they decide to pursue a formal complaint at a later date. Upon making a formal complaint, a Complainant has the right, and can expect, to have allegations taken seriously by Iowa Wesleyan University, and to have the incidents investigated and properly resolved through these procedures. Please consider that delays may cause limitations on access to evidence, or present issues with respect to the status of the parties.
Federal Timely Warning Obligations
Parties reporting sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking should be aware that under the Clery Act, Iowa Wesleyan University must issue timely warnings for reported incidents reported to them that pose a serious or continuing threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community.
The University will ensure that a Complainant’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger.
False Allegations and Evidence
Deliberately false and/or malicious accusations under this policy are a serious offense and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. This does not include allegations that are made in good faith but are ultimately shown to be erroneous or do not result in a policy violation determination.
Additionally, witnesses and parties knowingly providing false evidence, tampering with or destroying evidence, or deliberately misleading an official conducting an investigation can be subject to discipline under appropriate University policy.
Amnesty for Complainants and Witnesses
The Iowa Wesleyan University community encourages the reporting of misconduct and crimes by Complainants and witnesses. Sometimes, Complainants or witnesses are hesitant to report to University officials or participate in grievance processes because they fear that they themselves may be in violation of certain policies, such as underage drinking or use of illicit drugs at the time of the incident. Respondents may hesitate to be forthcoming during the process for the same reasons.
It is in the best interests of the University community that Complainants choose to report misconduct to University officials, that witnesses come forward to share what they know, and that all parties be forthcoming during the process. To encourage reporting and participation in the process, Iowa Wesleyan University maintains a policy of offering parties and witnesses amnesty from minor policy violations, such as underage consumption of alcohol or the use of illicit drugs, related to the incident.
Amnesty does not apply to more serious allegations such as physical abuse of another or illicit drug distribution. The decision not to offer amnesty is based on neither sex nor gender, but on the fact that collateral misconduct is typically addressed for all students within a progressive discipline system, and the rationale for amnesty – the incentive to report serious misconduct – is rarely applicable to Respondent with respect to alleged misconduct by the Complainant.
: Sometimes, students are hesitant to assist others for fear that they may get in trouble themselves (for example, an underage student who has been drinking or using marijuana might hesitate to help take an individual who has experienced sexual assault to University authorities.
Iowa Wesleyan University maintains a policy of amnesty for students who offer help to others in need. Although policy violations cannot be overlooked, the Iowa Wesleyan University may provide purely educational options with no official disciplinary finding, rather than punitive sanctions, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.
: Sometimes, employees are hesitant to report harassment or discrimination they have experienced for fear that they may get in trouble themselves. For example, an employee who has violated the consensual relationship policy and is then assaulted in the course of that relationship might hesitate to report the incident to Iowa Wesleyan University officials.
Iowa Wesleyan University may, at its discretion, offer employee Complainants amnesty from such policy violations (typically more minor policy violations) related to the incident. Amnesty may also be granted to Respondents and witnesses on a case-by-case basis].
Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations
Campus Security Authorities include: student affairs/student conduct staff, campus security, local police, coaches, athletic directors, residence life staff, student activities staff, human resources staff, advisors to student organizations, and any other official with significant responsibility for student and campus activities.
Campus Security Authorities have a duty to report the following for federal statistical reporting purposes (Clery Act):
- All “primary crimes,” which include homicide, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson;
- Hate crimes, which include any bias-motivated primary crime as well as any bias motivated larceny or theft, simple assault, intimidation, or destruction/damage/vandalism of property;
- VAWA-based crimes, which include sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; and
- Arrests and referrals for disciplinary action for weapons-related law violations, liquor-related law violations, and drug abuse-related law violations.
All personally identifiable information is kept private, but statistical information must be shared with regarding the type of incident and its general location (on or off-campus or in the surrounding area, but no addresses are given) for publication in the Annual Security Report and daily campus crime log.
Preservation of Evidence
The preservation of evidence in incidents of sexual assault is critical to potential criminal prosecution and to obtaining restraining orders, and is particularly time-sensitive. Iowa Wesleyan University will inform the Complainant of the importance of preserving evidence by taking the following actions:
- Seek forensic medical assistance at the local hospital, ideally within 120 hours of the incident (sooner is better).
- Avoid showering, bathing, washing hands or face, or douching, if possible, but evidence may still be collected even if you do.
- Try not to urinate.
- If oral sexual contact took place, refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, or brushing teeth.
- If clothes are changed, place soiled clothes in a paper bag (plastic destroys evidence).
- Seeking medical treatment can be essential even if it is not for the purposes of collecting forensic evidence.
During the initial meeting between the Complainant and the Title IX Coordinator, the importance of taking these actions will be reiterated, if timely.