Educational environments are supposed to offer safe atmospheres conducive to learning. While these experiences typically are the ones that students encounter, you may have received unwanted attention from a teacher or administrator that hinders your learning experience and makes you feel uncomfortable. Knowing the steps to take in these situations can help to bolster the safety of the campus as a whole and assist in your own recovery from the situation.
Understand Mandating Reporting
Talking to someone about the issue should be a priority. Working toward a resolution will involve sharing what happened. Keep in mind that some individuals are mandated reporters. In other words, if you tell certain individuals about a situation involving harm, these people have to report the issue. For example, if a student told a professor about sexual assault, the professor would have to report the issues. These types of issues should certainly be reported, but in some scenarios, you may still be working out the details in your mind. You may wish to speak to a counselor briefly before reporting the issue or going to someone who is required to report the issue. College campuses usually have counseling centers available, and students are invited to walk in to speak with a professional. In the long term, you may find that you want to speak with a counselor regularly as you are working through what happened with the incident.
Know Your School's Policies
Your college campuses absolutely should have policies in place to protect against these types of issues. Furthermore, the campus should have a clear system established that tells you exactly how to report what happened. Even if you have not received unwanted attention from a teacher or administrator, you should know what protocols are in place for this situation and similar ones. The campus likely has a list of numbers that you can call and perhaps even an online system for documenting the details of what happened. Policies are often broken down into categories as well. For example, you can likely find information about what to do in the case of sexual harassment, illegal drug usage or offering and other cases.
Review Retaliation Policies
When you are navigating these difficult scenarios, you may feel frightened about retaliation. For example, you might worry that the professor whom you report will deduct your grade as a warped type of punishment for issuing the report. You should know that colleges typically have policies that protect against retaliation. In addition to reviewing the policy, you should speak with a representative to fully understand the ways in which you are protected. Knowing this information can make you feel more secure and confident in moving forward with the report.
Document the Details
You might think that the situation was so jarring that you will never forget the details. However, as time moves on, memories can start to fade. You may also not immediately realize all of the small details that are important. As soon as you feel that unwanted attention has happened, write down all of the information that you can. Providing as many details as possible later can help the person representing you to better understand what happened and how to move forward.
Speak to the Chair
Some cases of unwanted attention are serious violations, and others are misunderstandings. While confronting the professor or administrator involved directly could lead to an escalation of tension or potentially a dangerous situation, you may want to schedule a meeting with the individual's chair. Do keep in mind that the chair is likely a mandated reporter. The chair might be able to offer a perspective on the situation that you had not yet considered.
Contact the Title IX Coordinator
A crucial person in this process is the Title IX coordinator at your school. A college or university absolutely should have this individual on staff. Even in the event that no such scenario has happened to you, finding out this person's contact information is extremely important. If you receive unwanted attention from a teacher or an administrator, you should absolutely contact the Title IX coordinator. This person can help you to move through the process, provide the necessary information and seek further assistance if needed. You might feel shy about speaking with the Title IX coordinator; however, keep in mind that this person's job is to handle situations like the one that you are going through.
Visit Public Safety
On a college campus, you will also find a public safety department. The public safety department is likely going to point you in the direction of the Title IX coordinator as well; however, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to immediately report a problem. Levels of unwanted attention can vary, and some of them might be threatening. In the event that you feel threatened, for example, you would want to let the safety office know. You do not want to put your safety or the safety of other people on the campus at risk, and reporting to public safety can help in minimizing that risk. In a seriously threatening situation, know that you may need to call the police as well.
Schedule an Advisement Appointment
Ultimately, you will have to speak to the resources on campus that are directly involved with the reporting of such issues. You may want to gain some perspective on which resource to consult first though. While the main purpose of an academic advisor is to provide you with academic guidance, keep in mind that these individuals are also aware of the resources available on campus to assist you. If you are able to schedule an appointment with your advisor immediately, you may want to take this approach so that you have someone to talk to.
Chat with Your Resident Assistant
Living on campus is a wonderful way to have new opportunities. When challenging situations arise, however, you may feel more alone in the moment. Ask your resident assistant if you could sit down to chat. This individual can steer you in the right direction and provide you with the necessary resources as well. Also, letting your resident assistant know what is going on can prove helpful. Above the resident assistant is typically the resident director who can also play a crucial role in providing you with support.
No matter which step you take first, remember that you are encouraged to open up and talk about the scenario. Doing so can help you to start to heal and to protect others from a similar situation. College campuses have many resources available to you to help you with this circumstance.