Mandatory Reporting FAQs

Reporting Questions (General)
  • Why is reporting important?

    Reporting is important because it ensures that the University is able to appropriately respond when there are RVSM incidents occurring on campus, within a University sponsored program or activity or otherwise adversely impacting our campus community. Persons who have been impacted by RVSM incidents still have the agency to decide whether and how to move forward and will receive information about access to resources and support.

  • Where can I learn more about MSU's mandatory reporting obligations?

    Please review the Mandatory Reporting for Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct, and Stalking Policy.

    If you are unsure about whether you are required to report, what information must be reported, or if you have any other questions, please contact OCR at (517) 353-3922 or oie@msu.edu.
  • Am I a mandatory reporter?

    All University employees, including graduate student and undergraduate student employees, as well as many University volunteers have reporting obligations. A limited number of employees on campus are exempt from reporting under this Policy when they are providing services within their role for the offices listed in the exempt section of the Policy.

  • What types of incidents need to be reported?

    Policy Section 

    RVSM Prohibited Conduct 

    Title IX Prohibited Conduct 

    III.A 

    Sexual Harassment (includes gender-based harassment) 

    Sexual Harassment 

    III.B.1 

    Non-Consensual Sexual Contact 

    Fondling 

    III.B.2 

    Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration

    Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration

    III.B.3 

    Incest 

    Incest 

    III.B.4 

    Statutory Rape 

    Statutory Rape 

    III.B.5 

    Sexual Exploitation 

     

    III.C 

    Relationship Violence 

    Dating/Domestic Violence 

    III.D 

    Stalking 

    Stalking 

    III.E 

    Retaliation 

    Retaliation 

    The definitions for these types of prohibited conduct can be found in the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy.

  • Where do I report a RVSM incident?
    Reports under the Mandatory Reporting for Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct, and Stalking Policy should be made to the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance.
  • How do I report?
    Reports can be made using the online reporting form, https://msu.guardianconduct.com/incident-reporting/ , by phone (517) 353-3922, or email at oie@msu.edu. You may also walk in and file a report on Monday through Thursday 8-12:00pm and 1:00-5:00pm and on Fridays by appointment. Reports can be made using the online reporting form outside of regular business hours.
  • Am I still required to dual report RVSM incidents to MSU Department of Police and Public Safety?

    Generally, no. Responsible employees and volunteers required to report under the Mandatory Reporting for Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct, and Stalking Policy are no longer required to dual report to OCR and MSU Department of Police and Public Safety (DPPS). However, there are still instances in which an employee or volunteer will be required to report to MSU DPPS, including, but not limited to:

    -For emergencies, please call 911

    -Child abuse and other harm to children, see University Reporting Protocols: Child Abuse and Other Harm to Children

    -Campus Security Authorities (CSA’s) are still required to report to MSU DPPS, please review your obligations as a CSA here

    - Other state and federal reporting requirements that may be applicable.
  • If a report is made to the MSU DPPS, will it be reported to OCR?
    Yes. MSU DPPS will report all incidents of relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct to OCR.  In response to the report, OCR will provide information about resources, support services, and the OCR investigation process.
  • If a report is made to OCR, will it be reported to the MSU DPPS?
    OCR refers all reports of potential crimes to MSU DPPS. It is then the survivor’s decision whether or not to pursue a criminal investigation with the police.
  • Are certain employees or offices considered exempt from reporting?

    Employees and volunteers who work in the offices listed below are exempt from reporting responsibilities, but only during provision of services.

    • MSU Center for Survivors [including MSU Safe Place, MSU Sexual Assault Healthcare Program and MSU Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention (SACI) Team]
    • MSU OCR Advising Services
    • MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)
    • MSU Couple and Family Therapy Clinic
    • MSU Employee Assistance Program
    • MSU Health Care Inc.
    • MSU Psychological Clinic
    • MSU Gender and Sexuality Campus Center
    • MSU Prevention, Outreach and Education (POE)
    • MSU Campus Health Services
    • University Ombudsperson
  • Do I have reporting obligations if I learn about RVSM in my personal capacity and not as an employee?
    Generally, no. If a family member, friend, or other individual discloses a sexual assault or other potential violation of this policy to you outside of the employment context, you are not required to report to OCR unless that disclosure involves suspected child abuse.  If the individual who made the disclosure to you is a member of the University community, you are strongly encouraged to provide them with information about available campus resources and encourage them to report the matter to the MSU DPPS and OCR.  Information on campus resources can be found on OCR’s website.
  • What if several people learn of an incident together? Can one person report on behalf of the group?

    Yes. Several employees or volunteers may simultaneously learn information that needs to be reported (e.g., during a meeting; via email or other communication sent to more than one person). In those instances, a group of employees or volunteers may coordinate to report to OCR by designating one individual to send an email to OCR containing the information and copying all the other individuals on the email.

    Individuals that are copied on the email will need to respond to the group email and state they have no additional information. Responding to the group email fulfills their individual responsibility to report.

    However, if anyone copied on the email has additional or different information, they must report that to OCR separately.

     Template for coordinated report email:

     

    To: oie@msu.edu

    From: [Name of Responsible Employee]

    Cc: [additional Responsible Employees or Volunteers]

     

    I am reporting the following information on behalf of myself and [list name(s)].

    [Provide all information known by the group of individuals about the conduct or incident that may be prohibited by the RVSM and Title IX Policy, including what happened, who was involved, when the incident occurred, and where the incident occurred, if known.]

    If anyone copied on this email has any information other than described above, please independently report. If you do not have any additional or differing information, please confirm by responding to this email that you have no additional or different information to report.

  • What information do I have to give when I report?

    You must report all relevant details about the incident or conduct that you are aware of. Please do not investigate the incident yourself. Simply provide what was made known to you.  If known, Include the names of the impacted individual as well as the individual who potentially engaged in prohibited conduct. Additionally, if you are aware of  any witnesses or other individuals who may have information, as well as  other relevant facts, (including the date, time, and specific location of the incident), please include these as well. After you report, OCR may reach out to ask follow-up questions related to your report.

    You are not required to investigate the incident to obtain additional details.

  • What if I don’t know if the incident really happened or happened the way someone told me it happened? Do I have to report if I think something is just a rumor?
    Responsible employees must report information they learn about, even if it may be a rumor or they do not know all of the details.
  • What happens after I make a report?

    OCR will provide outreach by email to the person impacted and offer resources, supportive measures, and an offer to meet with a staff member to discuss their options.

    Available options include supportive measures, requesting an investigation, alternative resolution options, etc. Individuals who have been impacted are not required to speak with OCR. If they choose to meet with OCR, they can bring a support person and/or an Advisor. OCR has dedicated Advisors on staff who can assist parties through the investigation and resolution process.  

    In order to ensure the health and safety of campus, OCR may move forward in certain cases even when the person impacted has chosen not to participate. These situations are limited, and the person impacted will be notified if this happens.
  • What if the person disclosing to me does not want me to report?

    You are still required to report, and you are encouraged to let the person know you are required to report. You can also inform them they do not have to interact with OCR or move forward with a process if they are uncomfortable.

    Please visit the University’s Culture of Support website for more information about how to respond when a person discloses a reportable incident to you.
  • Are there times that OCR moves forward with an investigation when the impacted person declines to participate or wants to remain confidential?

    As a public institution, OCR makes genuine attempts to keep information as private and confidential as possible. OCR also attempts to center their process around the decisions of the impacted person, especially on when and how they want to move forward before a formal complaint is filed. However, there are times when that is not possible:

    • If a significant safety risk is identified, OCR may still move forward with the process and take action to keep the university community safe.
    • If the information is similar to many other reports and may establish a pattern of behavior when compiled all together
    If the information is requested through a subpoena or FOIA (identifying information is removed in these processes).
  • The policy mentions obligations that are about University Community Members. Who does this include?

    An individual is a University Community member if they have a formalized relationship to the University (or had at the time of the incident), including but not limited to:

    • Students, meaning individuals enrolled or participating in a collegiate-level, University-sponsored program or course, regardless of program level; full-time or part-time status; credit, degree, or certificate awarded; location; or mode of instruction[1];
    • All employees, including but not limited to, executive management, faculty, academic staff, support staff (including regular, temporary, and on-call), post-doctoral fellows, graduate student employees (including research assistants, teaching assistants, and lab assistants), leased employees, and contract employees;
    • Persons with paid or unpaid appointments or titles provided by the University, including but not limited to, visiting and emeritus professors, post-doctoral or clinical fellows and research trainees;
    • Contractors, consultants, suppliers or other entities engaged by the University to provide services or goods;
    • Individuals enrolled and participating in a University sponsored program or activity, including youth programs;
    • Members of registered student groups and student governing bodies; and
    • All individuals living in University housing, including minor children.

     

    [1] A person remains a student until graduation or completion of the program, permanent dismissal, or non-attendance for three full, consecutive semesters (including summer semester). This definition includes a person who is on a leave of absence, withdraws, recess, or graduates after an alleged violation of student conduct policies.

  • What should I do if I know that a Responsible Employee failed to report?
    You may wish to remind the individual of their reporting obligations. If you are required to report, you also must report the information you have about the incident. Potential violations of the Policy should also be reported to OCR.
  • If I am attending a public event and a disclosure is made, am I required to report it ?

    No, public awareness or activism events and other public forums at which students or employees disclose their RVSM experiences are not considered notice to the University for the purposes of the Policy .  This includes disclosures made at events like Take Back the Night or during public activism events such as protests. 

    Event organizers are encouraged to make the reporting/privacy parameters known if they are able. If you are unsure if your event is exempt from reporting, please contact OCR.

    However, if the disclosure is made  in class, during office hours, meetings, or other conversations with faculty, staff, or administrators must be mandatorily reported to OCR.

    Students and employees are strongly encouraged to talk with a confidential office if they do not wish to have a disclosure referred to OCR and the MSU DPPS.

  • Do the reporting obligations change if a student disclosing a violation of this policy is under the age of 18?

    Yes, in addition to the reporting obligations under the Mandatory Reporting for Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct, and Stalking Policy, you have a separate obligation to report under the University Reporting Protocols: Child Abuse and Other Harm to Children Policy. All such reports should be made immediately to MSU DPPS and OCR. 

    Some employees may also be mandated reporters under state law and may also have a legal obligation to report suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services. Please review these policies for additional information.
  • What is Public Act 50 (2023) and what do I need to know?

    In 2023, the Michigan Legislature passed a new public act, and amendment to the Michigan Penal Code, which would make it a misdemeanor punishable up to one year in prison, and or $1,000 fine for an individual to intentionally use their professional position of authority over another to prevent the other person from reporting an incident of child abuse or sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator at a post-secondary educational institution. State legislators have described the bills as necessary to prevent a situation where someone comes forward and then is discouraged from reporting. University employees and volunteers could be viewed as being in a professional position of authority over another person, including other employees, students, athletes, and participants in youth programs. MSU policy and protocol have imposed broad reporting responsibilities for many years. Responsible employees and volunteers are required to promptly report suspected child abuse and sexual assault of which they become aware in the context of their working or professional capacity. MSU policy also makes clear that reporting is encouraged even when not required. As discussed in the attached memorandum from the University’s Office of General Counsel, employees and volunteers, following MSU policy and reporting all known information to the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety (DPPS) and/or the MSU Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance (OCR) should mitigate any risk of criminal exposure.

Reporting Questions Regarding Individuals Seeking or Accessing Confidential Resources

Reporting Questions Regarding “Off-Campus” Incidents

  • Does the university review reported incidents of RVSM that occurred off campus?
    Yes. The University will review all reports of relationship violence, stalking, and sexual misconduct involving members of the University community, regardless of where the conduct occurs, to determine if the University has coverage to investigate.  Coverage means that the incident falls within the purview of the RVSMTIX Policy. The University has coverage to investigate many types of off-campus conduct.  For example, the University has coverage to investigate sexual assault that occurs off-campus when that conduct creates a hostile educational or work environment on campus.  The University also has coverage to investigate off-campus conduct when the conduct occurred at a University sponsored or registered student organization sponsored event or activity.
  • What constitutes “on University Property” for purposes of mandatory reporting and investigating?
    All buildings and land owned or controlled by Michigan State University, including, but not limited to, MSU’s campuses in East Lansing, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids.
  • A student disclosed to me that they were sexually assaulted by an unknown individual while on spring break in Florida. Am I required to report this?
    Yes.  Although the University may not be able to investigate the incident and hold the individual accountable, the disclosure will permit the University to assure that the student has been provided with information on resources and support services available on campus.
  • A student disclosed to me that they were sexually assaulted by an unknown individual on a MSU study abroad program. Am I required to report this?
    Yes, although the incident occurred off campus, it is considered a University program and reporting is required.  Although the University may not be able to investigate the incident and hold the individual accountable, the disclosure will allow the University to ensure that the student has been provided with information on resources and support services available on campus.  Additionally, MSU may be able to take other actions such as conducting a review of policies and procedures, reviewing safety measures, or providing additional training or education.
  • As a mandatory reporter, what social media comments or posts am I required to report?

    Employees are required to report social media disclosures about incidents or conduct that may be prohibited by the RVSM and Title IX Policy when the disclosure is directed to a University social media account and the disclosure:

    • Occurred at a University-sponsored event or on University property
    • Involves a member of the University community while they were a member of the University community

    University accounts include top-level, public facing MSU accounts (e.g. MSU, MSU Today, MSU Alumni Association, etc.) as well as accounts associated with University departments and programs that are maintained by MSU.  This does not include personal social media accounts.  A disclosure is characterized by a post or message that includes information about a specific experience or incident.  Social media posts or comments making only general reference to someone’s identity as a survivor, public awareness campaigns and events, or social protests are not considered a disclosure.

Reporting Questions Regarding Timeline for Reporting

  • What is considered reporting “promptly”?

    All responsible employees and volunteers are required to report promptly. “Promptly” generally means as soon as practicable based on circumstances. Swift reporting is especially important when there is a concern for safety. The University’s response may be impeded by delayed reporting.

  • Are there any limitations to reporting for incidents that occurred in the past?

    Generally, no. Even something that occurred several decades ago would be reportable if it occurred on University property or within a University program or activity, or if it involves a University community member with respect to conduct that may have occurred while they were a University community member. If it is clear from the information provided to you that the incident does not meet one of these criteria, then you may not need to report. If you are unsure, please contact OCR at (517) 353-3922 or by email at oie@msu.edu.

    For example, if a person who is now an employee discloses to you in your employment capacity, that 10 years ago, when they were a student at MSU, they were sexually assaulted but did not disclose where it occurred or who was responsible, this would still be reportable as it involves a members of the University community and they were a community member at the time the incident occurred.

    Conversely, if a student discloses to you that they were sexually assaulted while they were a high school student and the person responsible was arrested and convicted, this would not be reportable because the incident occurred before they were a community member and likely does not involve a member of the community. Even if you are not required to report, you are encouraged to provide the student information about reporting options (OCR and MSU DPPS), resources and support.

Reporting Questions (Student Employees)

Reporting Questions (Faculty)

  • If I am required to report sexual assault or other policy violations that are disclosed to me as a faculty member, should I advise students of my reporting obligations in advance?

    Faculty members are encouraged to include language on their syllabus to notify students about their reporting obligations. As well as discuss their obligations during class. The following is sample language that might be included on a syllabus:  

    Limits to Confidentiality.  Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues based on external legal obligations or that relate to the health and safety of MSU community members and others.  As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices if you share it with me:

    • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,
    • Incidents of relationship violence, stalking, or sexual misconduct that occurred on campus, in a University program or activity, or while you were a University Community Member (e.g., student, employee, etc.); and
    • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.
    These reports may trigger contact from a University official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. It will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual.   If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to seek assistance in one of these confidential resources: https://poe.msu.edu/resources 
  • I conduct research in the area of sexual assault. How will these reporting obligations affect my research and ability to promise confidentiality to research subjects?
    Disclosures made by research subjects in the context of the research project do not trigger reporting obligations if the study has received an exception from the IRB.  If a faculty member believes a research project may elicit personal accounts of sexual misconduct or relationship violence, the researcher should make clear to research participants in advance that disclosures made during the research project are not considered notice to the school for the purposes of initiating an investigation.  It is recommended that if research is likely to elicit such disclosures, information on campus support resources is made available to participants.
  • Do I have a reporting obligation if I observe bruises on a student and I suspect the student is being physically abused, but the student has not shared any information with me about the cause of the bruises?

    No, this is a situation where there is no reporting obligation but the employee is strongly encouraged to ask the student if the student is ok and to encourage the student to contact Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), Center for Survivors, or MSU Safe Place for any counseling or survivor advocacy services needed. For more information about these resources, including contact information, please visit OCR’s Resources Page.

    If the employee knows the student is a minor and suspects the student may be the victim of child abuse, the faculty member should follow the University Reporting Protocols: Child Abuse and Other Harm to Children located at https://www.hr.msu.edu/policies-procedures/university-wide/reporting_protocols.html.

Reporting Questions (Exempt Offices)

  • If I work in an office that is considered exempt from reporting while providing services, when am I “providing services” and when would I need to report?

    “Providing services” generally means performing a role that assists individuals in receiving medical care, advocacy, counseling, or other support services. If you receive information about incidents or conduct that may be prohibited by the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy (RVSMTIX Policy) while performing that role (e.g., someone discloses to you, your office, or a colleague while seeking assistance), you do not need to report to OCR.

    If you witness or learn of conduct that may be prohibited by the RVSMTIX Policy outside of providing services , you must report it. For example, you would need to report in the following circumstances:

    • if you witness someone making unwelcome sexual comments in the workplace at MSU
    • if you witness an incident of sexual harassment or assault on campus or during a university sponsored event not in the scope of your provision of service
    • if you are a supervisor and someone complains to you about the conduct of one of your employees which may indicate the employee has engaged in prohibited conduct
  • If I work in an office that is exempt from reporting and someone discloses to me, what information am I responsible to give them?

    It is important that anyone who is impacted by RVSM has the information they need to navigate resources and options from the university. This is why it is critical every exempt employee should provide the following after a disclosure:

    (i) That the impacted person has the right to file a complaint with OCR and/or law enforcement and how to report

    (ii) That the impacted person has protection from the university against retaliation and what that means t

    (iii) How to access supportive resources, including confidential services therapeutic, counseling or advocacy services, medical, treatment and academic. support

  • I am a licensed mental health professional and I am prohibited by state law from disclosing confidential information learned from my clients. It is part of my role with the University to provide mental health services under my license. If something is disclosed to me by a client in my role as a licensed mental health professional, am I still required to report to OCR?

    No; however, you need to request exempt status by notifying the Title IX Coordinator (ocr.laurarugless@msu.edu) that you meet these criteria. Please include confirmation from your supervisor that they have reviewed your professional license and your job responsibilities and you will be providing services under your license as part of your role for the University. Failure to confirm exempt status with the Title IX Coordinator may result in an investigation for failure to report under the University’s Mandatory Reporting for Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct, and Title IX Policy.

    Also, even if a disclosure is made during the provision of services as a mental health professional, in accordance with the Policy, you still need to provide the following information to the individual who discloses to you:

    Employees exempted during provision of services are required to provide individuals with information regarding reporting options and available resources whenever possible, including (i) the right to file a complaint with OCR and/or law enforcement; (ii) the University’s prohibition of retaliation; and (iii) supportive resources, including counseling, medical, and academic.

    If you have any questions about your obligations under this Policy, please contact OCR at (517) 353-3922.
Reporting Questions (Health Care Professionals)
  • What reporting obligations do health care professionals have under the policy and under state law?

    The Policy does not require health professionals to report RVSM incidents to OCR when disclosures are made to a health professional within a privileged context.  The Policy does not override the normal confidentiality protections for discussions between health care providers and their patients.  Health care providers who also have other roles (such as faculty or administrators) should be aware that reporting obligations still exist when the individual is acting within their faculty or administrative role, but not within their clinical role.

    Michigan law requires physicians to report wounds or injuries inflicted by means of a knife, gun, pistol, other deadly weapon, or by other means of violence, to the police immediately.  This means that physicians must report to the MSU DPPS when a patient presents with wounds or injuries inflicted during a sexual assault or relationship violence.  A “wound” or “injury” may include pain and/or discomfort resulting from the assault.  The statutory requirement is limited to physicians, surgeons, hospitals, and pharmacies.  It does not apply directly to nurses, nurse practitioners, or physicians assistants; however, a report would need to be made if a physician is informed of the injury. 

    Finally, the above obligations relate solely to disclosures involving adults.  Disclosures involving minors may implicate child abuse or neglect and are governed by the University Reporting Protocols for Child Abuse and Other Harm to Children located online at https://www.hr.msu.edu/policies-procedures/university-wide/reporting_protocols.html.

  • Are athletic trainers who are asked by athletes to accompany them to a medical examination as a chaperone still mandatory reporters it relates to disclosures made by the athlete during an examination?
    While athletic trainers are generally mandatory reporters, when acting as a chaperone during treatment by a medical professional providing patient care, the athletic trainer/chaperone is not a mandatory reporter of information disclosed by an athlete/patient while chaperoning. However, if during the treatment the athletic trainer/chaperone observes conduct by the medical professional that may violate the RVSM and Title IX Policy, the athletic trainer/chaperone is required to report the conduct.