Privacy and Confidentiality

Western Michigan University is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in a report of sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, intimate partner violence or stalking. All WMU employees who are involved in the University's Title IX response, including the Title IX Coordinator, investigators and sanction panel members, receive specific instruction about respecting and safeguarding private information.

The policy distinguishes between privacy and confidentiality.

Privacy

Information related to a report of misconduct will only be shared with a small circle of individuals. The use of this information is limited to those University employees who are directly involved in the resolution of a report under this policy. While not bound by legally-privileged confidentiality, these individuals will be discreet and respect the privacy of all individuals involved in the process.

Confidentiality

Information shared by an individual with designated campus or community professionals cannot be revealed to any other individual without express permission of the individual. Those campus and community professionals who can hold legally-privileged conversations recognized by law include medical providers, mental health providers, ordained clergy/pastoral counselors and rape crisis counselors.

These individuals are prohibited from breaking confidentiality without express permission of the individual seeking services, unless there is an imminent threat of harm to self or others, or the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor.  When a report involves suspected abuse of a minor under the age of 18, these confidential resources are required by state law to notify child protective services and/or local law enforcement. 

Assistance and support

The University provides two general categories of assistance and support: confidential resources and responsible employees. Confidential resources are licensed or specially trained professionals who, by law, cannot share information without the consent of the individual seeking assistance. Responsible employees encompass a wider range of University administrators and departmental staff who will maintain an individual's privacy but are also required to share information with the Title IX Coordinator or other administrators within a small circle of those involved in responding to a report under this policy.

Confidential resources

The following confidential resources are available to individuals seeking confidential assistance:

  • Counselors at Counseling Services in Sindecuse Health Center or the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services in Sangren Hall and at the Grand Rapids clinic.

    Counseling Services at Sindecuse Health Center: (269) 387-1850
    Counseling and Psychological Services in Sangren Hall: (269) 387-5105
    Counseling and Psychological Services in Grand Rapids: (616) 771-4171
  • Medical/clinical staff at Sindecuse Health Center: (269) 387-3287.
  • WMU's Employee Assistance Program:(269) 372-4500 or (800) 523-0591.
  • Off-campus resources, including rape crisis counselors, domestic violence resources, local state assistance agencies or ordained clergy/pastoral counselors.

University employees who are confidential resources may submit anonymous statistical information for Clery Act purposes, but will not otherwise share identifying information without the permission of the complainant. Confiding in a confidential resource does not trigger an investigation or another action by the University.

Responsible employees

Many University employees have reporting obligations under Title IX. Those employees are designated as responsible employees. Under Title IX, the University is required to take immediate and corrective action if a responsible employee knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about sexual or gender-based harassment or violence prohibited under Title IX.

A responsible employee includes any employee who:

  • Has the authority to take action to redress sexual or gender-based harassment or violence.
  • Has the duty to report to appropriate school officials sexual or gender-based harassment or violence or any other misconduct covered by this policy.
  • A individual could reasonably believe has the authority or responsibility to take action.

The University requires that all responsible employees immediately report allegations of violation of this policy to the Title IX Coordinator or designee. This connects a complainant to information and resources and enables the University to take appropriate action to eliminate, prevent and address any hostile environment that may exist. 

The following officials have been designated as responsible employees for complaint reporting purposes:

  • Title IX Coordinator or any deputy coordinator.
  • Public Safety officers and employees.
  • President, vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents and directors.
  • Administrative unit heads. 
  • Housing and Residence Life staff, including resident assistants.
  • Student affairs staff.
  • Human Resources staff.
  • Deans, associate deans and assistant deans.
  • Academic department and school chairs and directors, and other academic unit heads.
  • Athletic coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, directors, assistant directors, advisors, associate directors and managers.
  • Academic advisors.
  • Faculty members, part-time instructors, adjunct instructors,  teaching assistants, research assistants, graduate assistants and graduate service assistants.
  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion/Multicultural Affairs staff with any supervisory responsibilities.
  • Other administrators with supervisory responsibilities.
  • Individuals designated as campus security authorities.

Responsible employees will safeguard an individual's privacy and only share information with a small circle of individuals who are directly involved in the resolution of a report under this policy. Responsible employees are nonetheless required by the University to immediately share all known details of the incident (date, time, location), the names of the parties involved and a brief description of the incident with the Title IX Coordinator or designee in person, by telephone or by email.