“There is a changed legal dynamic now where campuses are under pressure to act on reports of assault,” says Brett A. Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, a consulting and law firm that advises colleges.
When it comes to how colleges deal with sexual assault, whether it is in statements on course syllabi or in conversations with students, professors no longer are in the driver’s seat. “This is a universitywide issue,” Mr. Sokolow says. “Faculty members have always acted like they had the privilege of keeping their conversations with students confidential. But that privilege mentality is now coming to clash with federal regulations.”
It is the last part of that answer that campus officials believe requires professors to report information about assaults. That also means it is not up to faculty members, but to a university’s Title IX coordinator, to handle that information appropriately, including deciding whether a case should be pursued, says Mr. Sokolow.
Some universities already have made professors conducting research exempt from reporting details on sexual assault if the information comes up as part of a confidential study. And Mr. Sokolow believes that is how the law should be interpreted.
http://ow.ly/DVpty (subscription required)