Resources and Confidentiality
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
EDIT: We wanted to post a clarification/edit to our original blog post after some confusion. Ears does not have the same level of confidentiality as CMHS, the CARE office, and the chaplaincy - it’s really more about anonymity. Jumbos who call or text do not give a caller ID or phone number to the Ear, meaning there is no way for us to know who the caller is. For the other confidential resources, they are truly confidential in the sense that they may know your identity but will not share or report information (as long as they are not a threat to themselves or others).
I’m writing this post to give you all a little more information about some resources that are available to you, specifically those that are completely confidential (and others that aren’t but are greatly helpful).
Before we get into it, I want to give a content warning due to the discussion of sexual misconduct in this post. There will not be any specific details but rather a discussion of resources that are available to those who are victims or even perpetrators of sexual misconduct. Another content warning is the topic of suicide and self-harm which is covered briefly.
You’ve most likely seen stickers in dorm bathrooms and other places around campus about resources available to you if you’ve experienced sexual misconduct. These stickers are created by the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) at Tufts whose goal is to create and maintain a campus free from discrimination and harassment and “to affirm Tufts’ commitment to equal opportunity, Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, and affirmative action” (OEO). Part of their role on campus is to provide support to members of the Tufts community who have experienced sexual misconduct on campus or discrimination of any kind based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion, disability, sex, or gender. It is important to note here that the OEO is not a confidential resource,
and under Tufts’ policy on mandated reporting, they are required by the University under Title IX to report instances or allegations of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator at OEO. This does not mean that they will immediately open an investigation (which is not required), but rather they may reach out to ask about further information (which you are also not required to reply back to). The OEO is a great resource and can help “stay away or no contact orders, residential changes, schedule and academic changes and many other informal supports and resources” (OEO).
Overall, most faculty and staff at Tufts are required by university guidelines to report harmful behaviors to the OEO; these people are called mandated reporters. Mandated reporters at Tufts are anyone who gets a paycheck from the university. This could be professors, TAs, staff, facilities, etc. So, then, what are mandated reporters mandated to report? In short, reporters must report anything that goes against the university’s Student Code of Conduct (you can find the whole document here). By enrolling at Tufts, all students voluntarily agree to abide by this set of rules, and if a reporter witnesses you breaking these rules, a report can be made. The Code of Conduct is extensive, but some examples include discrimination (as outlined previously), underage drinking, hazing, theft, academic misconduct (such as cheating or plagiarism), and a long list of others.
That being said, there are a few mandated reporter exceptions: Ears for Peers, the chaplaincy, Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS), and the CARE office. These organizations are confidential resources, meaning if you disclose information about sexual misconduct, that information will not go anywhere without your permission. The only exception to this that would require any affiliates of these organizations to disclose private information to resources like the OEO or TUPD would be if the individual disclosing this information suggested that they were a dangerous threat to themselves or others. I want to be clear here though that a formal report would only be made if these are imminent threats; if someone contacted Ears and disclosed to the Ear that they have experienced suicidal ideation but don't have a plan yet, a formal report will not be made, but the caller/texter may be encouraged to talk to the counselor on call at CMHS or utilize other resources. In general, we as Ears (as well as the other confidential resources) will not report instances of breaking the rules outlined in the Student Code of Conduct if you aren’t in danger to yourself or others. For example, if you wanted to talk to an Ear about an experience that involved drinking alcohol, using drugs, gambling, etc., you will not be reported. Our goal is to listen and support you, NOT to get you in trouble.
One of the confidential resources mentioned before was the Center for Awareness, Resources, and Education (CARE) office which is a fantastic resource for anything related to sexual health and sexual misconduct. Located on the 2nd floor of the Campus Center, the CARE team is available for you to drop in or by appointment via their website. Both victims and perpetrators of sexual misconduct can meet with the CARE team, and these meetings are completely confidential. You can even request to meet at another location on campus or on Zoom, and if you wish to remain anonymous, you can even keep your camera off and change your name. The CARE office is also happy to act as an intermediate to the OEO; if you want to file a formal report, they can help you by contacting the OEO themselves.
One more thing I want to mention here is that if you feel uncomfortable or are in danger or you see someone else who is uncomfortable or in danger but are worried about getting in trouble or being reported, please ask for help. The goal of the University and the Student Code of Conduct is to keep people safe. If you see someone who has consumed a considerable amount of alcohol and could be at risk of alcohol poisoning or took too much of a certain drug, call TEMS or TUPD. These are the kind of things that are covered under the Good Samaritan Law, which states that the caller nor the person who the call is being made for will be penalized or persecuted for things like underage drinking or drug possession.
We, as well as all the other resources mentioned, recognize that reaching out for help is not easy, especially when it comes to matters of self-harm or sexual misconduct. Some people may want to take different steps than others, and that is perfectly okay. For some, filing a formal report to the University or launching an investigation may be preferred. For others, this may open up wounds that haven’t properly healed, and they might just want someone to talk to about it. No matter what the desired outcome is, we want everyone to know that there are resources and people on our campus who are there to help.