Easier now to report harassment, racism

By Lariena Nokes

Sitting in a class with a disruptive student, being inappropriately touched by anyone on campus, or being left out because of your gender, race, or faith can make college a miserable place to be.

The option to report has always been open to anyone, but now the Threat Assessment, Incident Management and Prevention Services, or “TIPS” makes reporting complaints with anonymity possible.

Here at HCC, Jacob Gunden, coordinator of equity and compliance, is in charge of campus Title IX issues.

Working with a team that includes Dana Hinshaw, director of residence life and student activities, the fair and equal opportunity for all students to learn is safeguarded.

The college recently activated the TIPS reporting system, “to improve campus safety and increase efficiencies in threat assessment and investigation processes,” Gunden said.

The system is ran by an off-campus reporting service that allows pseudonyms or alias emails to be included in reports.

If an individual filing a report makes use of that option, it keeps his or her name out of the matter.

The information is recorded, Gunden said, and then emailed to the proper HCC official to follow up on the report.

Reports on the system allow either private or college-based emails to be used. This option allows for more detailed follow up and investigation.

“TIPS expands the methods by which any member of the campus community can share matters they feel need to be elevated or addressed,” he said.

Resources like Title IX help to create a safe learning environment for students and staff here at HCC and on colleges all over America.

Title IX can appear to be a complicated topic, so it is important to know what laws you are dealing with.

“There are a couple of different laws that govern Title IX,” Hinshaw said “The U.S. Office of Civil Rights, or OCR is in charge of Title IX.”

A Title IX complaint can be about sex discrimination, gender equality, or opportunities for students, Hinshaw said.

Victims “could be women, could be men, could be anybody,” she said.

College, these days, is a whole new ballgame.

The casual mood of the students in the dorms and on campus, about matters involving sex, or substance abuse, can create a new situations for Title IX.

Now students have the TIPS system to report any Title IX issue.

While the system allows the reporting party to file a complaint anonymously, that may lead to a complication.

The anonymous mode does not provide a way for direct follow-up, to the reporting party, and in some cases it could end without an investigation.

But it can be serious.

After a report is filed, the investigation starts.

“First of all, HCC conducts its own investigation.

Then the person who the complaint was filed about can be removed from the dorms, dismissed from the institution, or have only the report logged against them,” Hinshaw said.

Issues such as Americans with Disabilities Act concerns and student code of conduct violations can now be addressed with anonymity.

If you do not wish to be contacted about the report, set up a alias or pseudonym email before you start your report.

From the HCC online homepage, click on the Equity and Compliance page, then scroll down and click on the blue, highlighted TIPS link; it will open the reporting page.

Every report is reviewed and every situation is handled as its own case.

“It all depends on what the person reporting wants,” Hinshaw said. “Sometimes the reporting party just wants to make a report and let it end there.”

After a report is filed, the investigation starts.

“First of all, HCC conducts its own investigation. Then the person who the complaint was filed about can be removed from the dorms, dismissed from the institution, or have only the report logged against them,” Hinshaw said.

“In many cases it depends on what the individual making the report wants done.”

Each report is taken seriously.

“Immediately, things are being looked at,” she said.

“There are investigators who are involved.”

“It’s about educating our students about what is, and what is not OK,” she said.

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