Options Available without Triggering an Investigation
Different employees on campus have different abilities to maintain a complainant’s confidentiality.
- Licensed mental health professionals can maintain near complete confidentiality regarding sexual assault; talking to them is sometimes called a “privileged communication.”
For Students Only: professional counselors and health care professionals in the Wellness Center can offer near complete confidentiality]. Confidential Advisors may or may not be a licensed mental health professional but does have 40 hours of training and 6 hours of updates each year in sexual assault counseling. Confidential Advisors may have privileged communications with students related to sexual assault.
- Confidential Resources may talk to a complainant in confidence, but are also required to fill out an anonymous university report that keeps identities private. No personally identifying information is released. Disclosures to these employees will not trigger a university investigation against the complainant’s wishes. Any member of the Dominican community can talk to a Confidential Resource. For Students Only: Non-counseling and non-medical staff in the Wellness Center can also talk to a complainant in confidence but are also required to fill out an anonymous report that keeps identities private.
- All other Dominican employees—including faculty, staff, contracted employees, and designated student employees; i.e. Diversity Advocates, Circulation Desk Attendants, Peer Advisors, Resource Desk Assistants, Resident Advisors, Student Security, Welcome Desk Workers, and University Ministry student staff are required to report all the details of an incident (including the identities of both the complainant and respondent) to the CDO/Title IX Coordinator. A report to these employees (called “responsible employees”) constitutes a report to the University—and generally obligates Dominican University to investigate the incident and take appropriate steps to address the situation.
This policy is intended to make students, faculty, and staff aware of the various reporting and confidential disclosure options available to them—so they can make informed choices. Dominican University encourages anyone who experiences any kind of misconduct or discrimination to talk to someone identified in one or more of these groups.
Privileged and Confidential Communications
Complainants have the right to maintain confidentiality as described above. When deciding how they want to proceed, complainants must weigh the fact that maintaining confidentiality can impact the university’s ability to adequately investigate a particular incident or to pursue appropriate action against the respondent.
Even so, these counselors and advocates will still assist the complainant in receiving other necessary protection and support, such as victim advocacy, academic support or accommodations, disability, health or mental health services, and changes to living, working or course schedules.
A complainant who at first requests confidentiality may later decide to file a complaint with the university or report the incident to local law enforcement, and thus have the incident fully investigated. Counselors and advocates will provide the complainant with assistance if the complainant wishes to do so.
NOTE: While these professional and non-professional counselors and advocates may maintain a complainant’s confidentiality vis-à-vis Dominican University, they may have reporting or other obligations under state law. [Insert specific state-law restrictions – such as mandatory reporting to law enforcement in case of minors; imminent harm to self or others; requirement to testify if subpoenaed in a criminal case.]
ALSO NOTE: If the University determines that the alleged respondents(s) pose a serious and immediate threat to the university community the Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Students or Safety and Security may be called upon to issue a timely warning to the community. Any such warning should not include any information that identifies the complainant to the extent permitted by the law.
Confidentiality within the Roman Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance
As a Catholic, Dominican institution, Dominican University believes that the dignity of the human person and her or his restoration of right relationship with God and others is central to the profession and practice of any faith. In Roman Catholicism, the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance is a moment of sacred grace through healing. For Roman Catholic faculty, staff and students Reconciliation is made available by request or through general pastoral offerings of the University Ministry Center. For baptized Roman Catholics, the information shared within the confessional space of the Sacrament are completely confidential and remain under what the Church calls the sacramental seal. The seal prevents the confessor from sharing any information because it is “sacred, and cannot be violated under any pretext” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2490). As such, a Roman Catholic priest in good standing serving as a confessor on Dominican University’s campus shall not be required to report any information disclosed in the confessional space.
Reporting to Responsible Employees
All Dominican University employees, including faculty and designated student employees -including, Diversity Advocates, Circulation Desk Attendants, Peer Advisors, Resource Desk Assistants, Resident Advisors, Student Security, Welcome Desk Workers, and University Ministry student staff are considered “responsible employees” and must formally report the incident. Including the details of the incident and the names of the complainant or the person who discloses the incident.
When a complainant tells a Dominican employee about an incident of misconduct, the complainant has the right to expect the university to take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate what happened and to resolve the matter promptly and equitably.
Dominican University employees must report to the CDO/Title IX Coordinator all relevant details about the alleged incident shared by the complainant and the university will need to determine what happened – including the names of the complainant and respondent(s), any witnesses, and any other relevant facts, including the date, time and specific location of the alleged incident.
To the extent possible, information reported to a Dominican University employee will be shared only with people responsible for handling the university’s response to the report. Dominican University employees should not share information with law enforcement without the complainant’s consent or unless the complainant has also reported the incident to law enforcement.
Before a complainant reveals any information to a Dominican University employee, the employee should ensure that the complainant understands the employee’s reporting obligations – and, if the complainant wants to maintain confidentiality, direct the complainant to the Confidential Victim Advocates or, in the case of students only, to confidential resources.
If the complainant wants to tell the responsible employee what happened but also maintain confidentiality, the employee should tell the complainant that the university will consider the request, but cannot guarantee that the University will be able to honor it. In reporting the details of the incident to the CDO/Title IX Coordinator, the employee will also inform the Coordinator of the complainant’s request for confidentiality.
Dominican University employees will not pressure a complainant to request confidentiality, but will honor and support the complainant’s wishes, including a University investigation of an incident. By the same token, Dominican University employees will not pressure a complainant to make a full report if the complainant is not ready to do so.
Requesting Confidentiality from the University
How Dominican University Will Weigh the Request and Respond.
If a complainant discloses an incident to an employee but wishes to maintain confidentiality or requests that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted or disciplinary action taken, Dominican University must weigh that request against the university’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all.
If Dominican University honors the request for confidentiality, a complainant must understand that the university’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the respondent(s) may be limited.
Although rare, there are times when Dominican may not be able to honor a victim’s request in order to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all students.
Dominican University has designated the following individual to evaluate requests for confidentiality once an employee is on notice of alleged misconduct: Sheila Radford-Hill, PhD, Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator
When weighing a complainant’s request for confidentiality or request that no investigation or discipline be pursued, the CDO/Title IX Coordinator will consider a range of factors, including the following:
The increased risk that the alleged perpetrator will commit additional acts of sexual or other violence, such as:
- Whether there have been other sexual violence complaints about the same alleged perpetrator;
- Whether the alleged perpetrator has a history of arrests or records from a prior school indicating a history of violence;
- Whether the alleged perpetrator threatened further sexual violence or other violence against the victim or others;
- Whether the sexual violence was committed by multiple perpetrators;
- Whether violence was perpetrated with a weapon;
- Whether the complainant is a minor;
- Whether the university possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence of the violence (e.g., security cameras or personnel, physical evidence);
- Whether the complainant’s report reveals a pattern of perpetration (e.g., via illicit use of drugs or alcohol) at a given location or by a particular group.
The presence of one or more of these factors could lead the University to investigate and, if appropriate, pursue disciplinary action. If none of these factors is present, the university will likely respect the complainant’s request for confidentiality.
If the University determines that it cannot maintain a complainant’s confidentiality, the University will inform the complainant prior to starting an investigation and will, to the extent possible, only share information with people responsible for handling the University’s response.
Dominican University will remain mindful of the complainant’s well-being, and will take ongoing steps to protect the complainant from retaliation or harm and work with the complainant to create a safety plan. Retaliation against the complainant will not be tolerated.
Dominican University will also:
- Assist the complainant in accessing other available advocacy, academic support, counseling, disability, health or mental health services, and legal assistance both on and off campus (see portion of policy identifying these);
- Provide other security and support, which could include issuing a no-contact order, helping arrange a change of living or working arrangements or course schedules (including for the respondent pending the outcome of an investigation) or adjustments for assignments or tests; and
- Inform the complainant of the right to report a crime to campus or local law enforcement (or not to do so)– and provide the complainant with assistance if the complainant wishes to do so.
- Dominican University may not require a complainant to participate in any investigation or disciplinary proceeding.
What will Happen after I Report an Incident?
What follows are the procedures for a process that is intended comply with federal, state, and local laws, and is deeply grounded in Dominican’s identity and culture of commitment to social justice and the common good. The University’s intention, at every stage of the process, is to promote a more just and humane campus by effectively investigating and resolving violations of University policy, while also providing support and affirming the rights and humanity of complainants and respondent.