Executive Committee members expressed concern that the university's Sexual Harassment Policy would seem to require all faculty to report allegations of sexual harassment to the Office of Affirmative Action, even if the alleged victim requested that no further action be taken, i.e., faculty were "mandatory reporters." The Executive Committee feared that this might result in a violation of faculty members' professional ethics and in student reluctance to approach faculty members with reports of sexual harassment.
The Executive Committee met with Marc Mills, from the Office of the General Counsel, and Charlotte Westerhaus, Assistant to the President and Director of Affirmative Action, to address this issue. The current policy includes all faculty members as mandatory reporters if they advise students, however, since nearly all faculty members will at some time advise students, this implies that nearly all faculty members are mandatory reporters. Westerhaus pointed out that htis was never the intention, but rather that the intention was to include only those faculty and staff who have advising as a "major" activity.
To avoid confusion, a recommendation was made to Mills and Westerhaus to omit entirely any references to “academic advisor” or “student advisor,” and the resulting revised policy honored this recommendation. With respect to advising students, the revised policy applies only to a “staff member whose primary job responsibility is to provide advice regarding a student's academic pursuits."
Notwithstanding the above, AAUP Counsel Donna R. Euben advises (Sexual Harassment in the Academy: Some Suggestions for Faculty Policies & Procedures, October 2002), “In all cases, faculty and administrators should make clear that they seek to honor requests for confidentiality, but cannot guarantee it.” Clearly the issue of confidentiality is not straightforward.