As a faculty or staff member, you frequently encounter students who are under stress or going through a difficult time. Because students look up to you as mentors and trust your opinions and guidance, you can serve as a reliable and trustworthy source of information about the resources available to them.
Faculty and staff are not expected to take on the role of counselor. The following information can help you provide appropriate assistance to students who reach out to you.
First and foremost, it is important for you to know and to share with students you cannot guarantee their privacy. Tell them you may have to share information with others on a need-to-know basis.
The University’s policy and procedures for addressing sexual misconduct includes the statement: “the University requires all University employees (faculty, staff, student employees, and administrators) to report to a Responsible Employee any discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, or retaliation they witness or have a reasonable basis to suspect.” If the student wishes to speak with someone confidentially about their concerns, then you can facilitate that connection by offering to call or to walk them over to one of the confidential resources on campus (e.g., Counseling Center, Chaplain’s office).
If a student chooses to share information about sexual misconduct, here are some guidelines for supporting your student.
Listen non-judgmentally. Hear the experience as the student describes it. Articulate clearly that you believe the student and you want to provide support in any way you can.
Validate the student's feelings.
Assure the student that it is not their fault. Self-blame is common among victims of sexual violence.
Do not make judgmental comments. Do not comment on what could have been done differently or make statements that imply the student could have avoided the harassment or assault.
Be empathetic. However, do not let your own emotions get in the way of supporting the student.
Offer support, not justice. You may provide advice, guidance and information about your student's options for additional support, but do not take matters into your own hands. Remember, it is not your role to confront the perpetrator or investigate the incident.
Offer company. If your student is hesitant to get help, even from those who you know are supportive and helpful, offer to accompany them to those who can help. Sometimes that is all it takes to help a student begin to take action.
Contact the Title IX Coordinator. It is expected faculty and staff who receive credible reports of sexual misconduct forward the information to a Title IX Coordinator. Every effort will be made to allow the student to decide the course of action to be taken.
Get support for yourself. Do not hesitate to seek advice from individuals who are in a position to help. It is not necessary to give names or details of the incident to get initial support.