UO seeks campus comments on new reporting policy

When it comes to employee reporting responsibility, it can be easy to get confused by the various terms and reporting categories for employees.

A new policy is intended to reduce confusion and make it easier for students and employees to understand when and which employees are required to report discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment.

The new prohibited discrimination and retaliation policy would replace the current discrimination complaint and response policy and the student sexual and gender-based harassment and violence complaint and response policy. The proposed policy consolidates employee reporting obligations; captures recent changes to Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex and gender discrimination and harassment in education; and more expressly prohibits retaliation against those who file a formal complaint. 

It also establishes one set of definitions and prohibited conduct for all campus community members.

“We anticipate that having a single reporting policy with the same definitions and reporting requirements for all protected statuses will remove confusion that resulted from having two policies with different definitions, differing reporting obligations for different employees, and different forms of prohibited discrimination,“ said Nicole Commissiong, the UO’s chief civil rights officer, associate vice president and Title IX coordinator.

For the majority of employees, responsibilities will not change under the proposed policy. Major changes outlined in the policy include retiring the “responsible employee” and “student-directed employee” designations.

Under the current gender-based harassment policy, the term “student-directed employee” refers to that group of employees who are expected to follow a student’s wishes after a disclosure. In the proposed policy, the term no longer fits the group of employees who will be tasked with following the wishes of both students and employees. Ideas for identifying a helpful and descriptive title for that group are encouraged during the comment period.

“Overall, the new policy strengthens prior nonretaliation language and includes links to related resources, policies and procedures,” Commissiong said. “As a result, the proposed policy is much more of a ‘one-stop’ for the campus community to understand employee reporting obligations and find resources than the prior policies were, even when taken together.”

The proposed policy was developed by a committee of students, faculty and staff; several university stakeholder groups have already provided input. It will be submitted to the Policy Advisory Council on May 5 for review, after which the public comment period will begin.

The policy will be posted on the policy public comment webpage. The comment period will be open for two weeks once the proposed policy is posted for comment.

—By Jesse Summers, University Communications