Compelled Disclosure:

The Problem with "Required Reporting" of Sexual Violence on College Campuses

A Compilation of Articles and Resources

Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD

Professor Emerit of Psychology, University of Oregon

Faculty Affiliate of the Women's Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University

Founder and President, Center for Institutional Courage

 

Introductory Statement

Trauma robs the victim of a sense of power and control over her own life; therefore, the guiding principle of recovery is to restore power and control to the survivor. She must be the author and arbiter of her own recovery.  . . .  Many benevolent and well‐intentioned attempts to assist the survivor founder because this fundamental principle of empowerment is not observed. No intervention that takes power away from the survivor can possibly foster her recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in her immediate best interest. (Herman, 2002)

In the years between 2011 and the present time, many American universities rolled out policies compelling faculty report to college officials student disclosures of sexual violence. I became concerned about these compelled disclosure policies (often known as "mandatory reporting" or "required reporting" policies) from a research and policy perspective. I first published my concerns about compelled disclosure in a 2016 commentary in which I identified serious problems with compelled disclosure and I offered the core of an alternative policy that subsequently informed the University of Oregon's reporting policy adopted in 2017. If you read just one thing about this topic, I hope it is this:

The Problem with “Required Reporting” Rules for Sexual Violence on Campus by Jennifer Freyd, Huffington Post Blog, 25 April 2016.

Updates

October 2020 Updates:

A new national faculty advocacy group formed to explore alternatives to mandatory reporting has formed: Academic Alliance for Survivor Choice in Reporting Policies

At the National Academy of Science’s 2nd Public Summit of the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education there was a panel discussion about mandatory reporting, Finding Common Cause Centering Survivors in Reporting Policies. Video recordings of the presentations and slides are available for the public.

February/March 2019 Update:

The American Psychologist has published in the February/March 2019 issue a comment and our response to our 2018 article "Compelled disclosure of college sexual assault."

Comment: Newins, A. R. (2019). Ethical considerations of compelled disclosure of sexual assault among college students: Comment on Holland, Cortina, and Freyd (2018). American Psychologist, 74(2), 248-249. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000363

Our Response: Holland, K. J., Cortina, L. M., & Freyd, J. J. (2019). Advocating alternatives to mandatory reporting of college sexual assault: Reply to Newins (2018). American Psychologist, 74(2), 250-251. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000415

April 2018 Update:

The American Psychologist, the official peer-reviewed scholarly journal of the American Psychological Association, published in April 2018 our analysis of mandatory reporting policies.

Holland, K. J., Cortina, L. M., & Freyd, J. J. (2018). Compelled disclosure of college sexual assault. American Psychologist. 73(3), 256-268. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000186 ; Press Release

(This paper was selected for the Distinguished Publication Award, Association for Women in Psychology, 2019)

May 2018 Update: Professor Merle Weiner from the University of Oregon School of Law has written an important legal analysis:

Merle H. Weiner, A Principled and Legal Approach to Title IX Reporting, 85 Tenn. L. Rev. 71 (2017). Available on Westlaw.   The published version is also on SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3133270

May 2017 Update:

On 12 April 2017 there was again unanimous support by the University of Oregon Senate for our new proposed reporting policy that does NOT make most employees mandatory reporters but instead obligates them to provide information, support the students and follow the wishes of the survivor/student. (Here is more about the task force that proposed the policy.) On 23 May, the university president signed this policy effective 15 September 2017. We also hope this policy can serve as a model for other campuses and organizations -- one in which we shift the focus from required reporting to required supporting.

News Articles

National News

UO Campus Specific News

 

Video: Student-Directed Sexual Violence Reporting Policy Approved, 12 April 2017, University of Oregon Senate (16 mins) (also see Video of University of Oregon Senate, 18 May 2016 when mandatory reporting was rejected.)

 

Statements from Organizations Opposing Wide-Brush Mandatory Reporting Requirements

National & International Organizations

Campus Specific Organizations

Statements Supporting Wide-Brush Mandatory Reporting Requirements

Faculty Commentary

student-directed

Section from commentary by Freyd, 2016

Student and Survivor Voices

Scholarly and Scientific Research

Some Universities with Policies that may NOT Require all Faculty to be Required Reporters

Note: This list was mostly compiled in 2015 and 2016 and may be out of date.

  1. University of Michigan
  2. NYU
  3. Cal Tech
  4. CUNY
  5. Hofstra
  6. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  7. George Washington University
  8. University of Miami
  9. University of South Carolina
  10. Catholic University
  11. University of Nebraska
  12. Brown University
  13. Vanderbilt University
  14. University of Oregon effective 15 September 2017

(More details about specific policies here.)

See Also