Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

The Ineffectiveness of Mandatory Reporting

Last Thursday evening, students, staff and members of the Health and Wellness Crew gathered for three hours on the first floor of the student center to educate and share their experiences concerning sexual assault. This annual event, commonly known as Take Back the Night, is a time for survivors to share their stories in a safe space without worrying about the possibility of being “mandatory reported.” This safe space not only offers a chance to listen, but also to be heard.

Sarah Khaledi, a representative from the Wave Foundation and speaker at the event, explained why she volunteered to be there that night.

“The reason why I chose to speak at Take Back At the Night is basically because what has happened to me.” Khaledi said. “I feel that being quiet is not only limiting the healing process for myself, but others in a similar situation. By exposing my scars, I teach other people that healing is possible.”

Khaledi believes that by speaking one’s truth, the path to healing can start to form. But being able to share one’s story isn’t easy in all environments. At Seattle University, sharing experiences of sexual assault, depending on who it is being reported to, may have unanticipated repercussions.

At Seattle U, all staff and faculty are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct, which includes sexual assault. That means if a student confides in one of these university employees, that employee would then be required to tell Seattle U’s Title IX coordinator, who is responsible for managing these incidents.

This process, also known as mandatory reporting, approaches sexual assault in a manner that Khaledi does not agree with. She explained that when dealing with young children, mandatory reporting makes sense because it can help provide them with a voice they don’t have.

However, applying mandatory reporting to those in high school or college can be more damaging because some may want to just share their story, but don’t feel comfortable reporting it.

“For somebody who’s in highschool or college, they have a little more room to make decisions in their life, especially college students,” Khaledi said. “I do not agree with the mandatory reporting method. Because someone is going to be making the decision to talk about it…if they know that has repercussions, they would rather not talk about it…and unfortunately the court system, that brings a different level of stress, and it’s not always positive. The court system doesn’t do much for the perpetrator, they don’t really punish them in a way that really punishes them.”

Khaledi is not alone in this perspective. Former Seattle U undergraduate and current law student Keegan Tasker shares a similar view. Though Tasker acknowledges the purpose of what mandatory reporting does, she too sees the damage that the process may have on a survivor of sexual assault.

“Often times I feel like people mandatory report things to contribute to the SU sexual assault statistics on campus without actually doing anything to support the person that’s going through it,” Tasker said.

Tasker shared her story of what happened when she mandatory reported her sexual assault. Through the story, she wanted to make it clear that the only reason the mandatory reporting wasn’t as damaging as it may be to others is because she knew about the process that was going to happen.

“I think it can be damaging if you do not know it is coming…I don’t know if I can put the words to it, but I do think it takes away from that feeling of being able to be authentic with someone and just needing them to hear you,” Tasker said. “Because instead of being a confidant they turn into someone in a work role. Since I knew it was coming…I knew that was going to happen, if someone’s not expecting it and they come to you as a confidant, I think it can just shut someone down, and that can be damaging.”

For those who may feel unsure how to begin their healing process, or weary to even think about, Tasker wanted to put it out there that how one approaches their experience is entirely up to them.

“However you choose to make yourself feel healed, it’s valid. If you don’t want to tell somebody on campus you don’t have to. If you don’t want to tell anyone at all, you don’t have to. I hope for you that you are finding ways to feel everything you need to feel to start the healing,” she said.

If looking for a professional to talk with off campus, Psychology Today and your insurance company may have suggestions. If wanting to keep on campus, SSN, HAWC and CAPS are available to students. All three organizations do not require mandatory reporting.

Shelby may be reached at
[email protected]

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