For Faculty and Staff
As a faculty member or staff member your relationships with students puts you in a unique position to offer help and support. The primary role for faculty and staff is to help the student know that there are campus and community resources that can help. As faculty and staff, it is important to understand that your role is not to provide counseling or take on the problem for the survivor. By educating yourself and following some simple guidelines, you can confidently and effectively respond to students who are experiencing sexual misconduct (sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking).
On receiving notice of an incident of sexual misconduct, assess whether a student needs immediate medical attention or there is an imminent danger to the student or others. If a student needs immediate medical attention or there is an imminent danger to the student or others call 911 or 312-355-5555 (UIC Police).
You should also encourage the student to report the incident to the UIC Police. Refer to the Reporting Sexual Assault section of this website for more information.
As a faculty or staff member you can serve an important role in helping survivors. By recognizing, responding and referring students, you are letting them know that you care about them and want to help.
What You Should Know
These types of experiences can be very traumatic for any individual, including students. The experience can impact a student’s ability to eat, sleep and concentrate in class or on class assignments. Over time, trauma can have serious long-term, negative effects on a student’s educational experience. Faculty and staff often are among the first to notice that a student is struggling. However, they may not fully understand what they are seeing or know how to help. In these situations, faculty and staff members can play an important role in helping a student access the support and resources that can help the student begin to heal.
In some instances, a student may disclose an assault or other trauma she/ he has experienced either verbally or in writing. When this happens, the student is letting you know that she/he has made the decision to trust you. In other instances, a student may not disclose, but you may begin to notice subtle or not so subtle changes in a student’s behavior or academics that suggest that something might be wrong. These may occur immediately after the incident or weeks or even months later and may include:
- Lack of attendance – The student may stop attending class or attend intermittently. This may be caused by depression or irregular sleep patterns brought on by trauma.
- Incomplete or missing tests and assignments– Trauma can impede a person’s ability to concentrate, making it difficult to study or complete assignments.
- Withdrawal – The student may become noticeably less social, no longer participating in events, conversations and activities as she/he did in the past.
- Increased risk taking – In contrast or in combination with being withdrawn, the student may begin to engage in more high risk behaviors such as excessive drinking or self- harm as a means of coping or escape.
If you suspect that the student may have been impacted by a traumatic experience, but haven’t received confirmation through a disclosure, it can be helpful to reach out to the student and simply ask if there is something wrong. Many students don’t feel that they can ask for help, especially from faculty members. When approaching a student, let her/him know that you have noticed that something that concerns you and that you just want to make sure that she/he is okay, or if not, that she/he gets the help she/he needs. It’s important to let the student know that some disclosures need to be reported to the University. If the student would like further assistance, you will help them connect with an office on campus where they can talk confidentially.
What Can You Do
If a student discloses to you that she/he has experienced an incident of sexual misconduct:
1. Listen with empathy.
Listening is the single most important thing that you can do. No one deserves to be the victim of violence, regardless of the circumstances. Let the victim know they are not to blame for the assault. Avoid asking questions that imply fault, such as: “How much were you drinking?¨ or “Why didn’t you call the police? Instead, say something simple and kind, like:
“I’m sorry that this happened to you.¨ or “Thank you for telling me.¨
2. Support and respect their decisions.
Victims are often met with disbelief when they tell someone. They may be hesitant to trust others with their story. Many victims do not immediately file a report with law enforcement. This is okay. Remember, you are not an investigator; you are someone the victim trusts. Avoid telling the victim what she or he “should” or “must” do. One of the most important things you can do is help the victim take back the power she or he has lost. Try phrases like:
“What kind of help do you need?¨ or “When you are ready, there is help available.¨
3. Know where to refer the victim for further help.
There are many offices on the campus and in the community that specialize in these issues. Faculty and staff can opt to accompany the survivor for a campus referral or make a phone call on the student’s behalf. You are not expected to be an expert on sexual misconduct. However, you can direct the victim to people who are experts and can provide advocacy and support. Ask gentle questions, like:
“Would you like to see a nurse or doctor?¨ or “Are you interested in talking to a counselor?¨
Refer to the Campus and Community Resources Chart for further information.
4. Offer advocacy and support services.
Offer to walk the student over to the Campus Advocacy Network. If that is not possible, ask the student if you may call CAN while the student is with you, in order to help facilitate a connection between the student and CAN. Explain the benefits of working with the CAN such as gaining emotional support and learning about advocacy that the staff may be able to offer on the student’s behalf.
Encourage the student to contact the Counseling Center for support and assistance. The nature of sexual misconduct or assault, particularly by an acquaintance, date, or partner, makes it difficult for many students to report their experiences. For this reason, the Counseling Center is designated as a place where individuals may seek confidential assistance.
5. Follow up with the student.
Let the student know that you take his or her disclosure seriously and that you care about her or his well-being. You could begin the conversation with:
“I was thinking about the conversation we had the other day. How are you doing?¨
If you are faculty, staff, or a teaching assistant, contact the university’s Title IX Coordinator to report the information. The Title IX Coordinator will reach out to the student to explain her or his rights, and to review reporting options. Assure the individual that, while certain information must be shared, the university will keep the information as confidential as possible.
The student is not required to file a report with local law enforcement or to pursue action through the university’s student conduct process. The fact that information about the sexual misconduct has been forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator does not mean that the individual will be required to move forward and file a criminal complaint or participate in an internal investigation with the Office for Access and Equity.
If you are an RA, tell the student that you must forward information about the sexual misconduct to the Resident Director, who must then inform the Area Coordinator. All parties will keep the information as confidential as possible, but certain information must be shared so that the student can receive the help and support she/he needs.
Your Reporting Obligations
All staff or faculty who become aware of a sexual misconduct must report all known information to the university’s Title IX Coordinator, at (312) 996-8670 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This disclosure will be kept as confidential as possible. Disclosing this information does not mean that the student will be required to make any disclosures to UIC Police, local law enforcement, or to participate in any university investigation or proceedings. Instead, the disclosure to the Title IX Coordinator ensures that information regarding resources, reporting options, and student rights is provided. Please note that certain specific individuals are exempt from this obligation: CAN Advocates and licensed clinical staff in the UIC Counseling Center.
If you are a Campus Security Authority,(CSA) you must fill out the Crime Report Form and submit it to the UIC Police. The form gathers only statistical information, not information that identifies the student. Please note that Campus Housing staff are all Campus Security Authorities. For information on Campus Security Authorities, please refer to Policy Definitions
If you become aware that a person who is under age 18 was the victim of sexual misconduct, this may be considered a form of child abuse. Refer to the UIC Protection of Minors Policy.