New online tools are available to guide people on actions to take if you learn that someone on campus has experienced sexual and gender-based misconduct.
The UM-Dearborn Office of Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX (ECRT) website has created a suite of resources to help faculty and staff who are Individuals with Reporting Obligations (IROs) under the Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy.
“People usually want to help, but may second guess if it’s their place to get involved or aren’t sure about who to reach out to report it to,” said ECRT Director and Title IX Coordinator Pamela Heatlie. “We want people to recognize inappropriate behavior, feel empowered to report it, and know where to go to do so. We also want faculty and staff who are obligated to report — Individuals with Reporting Obligations, also called IROs — to have readily available information and tools to help them report.”
In the IRO suite of resources, which is a menu item near the bottom of this webpage, there’s a flowchart to help people determine if they are classified as an Individual with Reporting Obligations and what that means, since the obligations can vary depending on the position the person holds. “All campus employees should review the flowchart to determine their status,” Heatlie said.
There is also an online course that contains a quiz to help individuals determine whether they are an IRO. In addition, the online course provides examples of sexual and gender-based misconduct, information on best practices for handling a disclosure, and other helpful information, such as confidential resources on campus.
There’s a sign that individuals can share in their physical and virtual workspaces to indicate that they are an IRO. However, as noted on the website, IROs should not depend on the sign entirely and should disclose that they are an IRO, as appropriate.
In 2021, the Office of Institutional Equity transitioned to ECRT. Heatlie said this change was in part to help people clearly know where to go with Title IX questions or concerns. Title IX is a civil rights law that provides that no person can be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance.
In addition to the mission being more recognizable in name, Heatlie said the office is working on a variety of programs that campus offices and individuals can use, like creating additional resource suites to provide needed tools in one location.
“Within our campus community we continue to build upon resources and provide information in useful ways. You can have a well-written policy, and it’s very important to have a good policy, but if people don't have the time to read it or don’t use it enough to retain the information in it, it’s not helpful for this purpose. So we want to create tools to make the information accessible.”
Another important change is the addition of campus staff to allow ECRT to increase its capacity to create new programming and educational resources.
Andrea McDaniel was hired as the ECRT deputy director. In addition to conducting investigations, McDaniel will help roll out “ready resources” like the new IRO reporting online resources. And Simone Dixon, UM-Dearborn's first project manager for Violence Prevention and Response Initiatives, went from having a temporary role funded by a Department of Justice grant to a fulltime permanent position.
Heatlie said these changes demonstrate the importance that diversity, equity and inclusion have in the campus’ strategic planning. She said UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso supported and moved along these ECRT advancements.
“This was a change supported by leadership. That’s who made this happen. Chancellor Grasso is focused on supporting people in our community by providing resources that are needed for people to be successful and fulfill their potential.”
Heatlie said it's important to get the word out so people don’t feel alone and so that they get the information they need. These new resources will help spread awareness of the support available to the campus community.
“We want survivors to be only one or two people away — at most — from the information they need so that, if someone is in a situation where they experienced assault or harassment, they know where to go to get help and to stop that behavior.”
Questions about the ECRT? Ask here.