When something like assault, bias motivated incidents, crime, harassment, intimate partner violence, sex assault or, stalking happens people often want justice, and sometimes want to report. Did you know that there are more options than just the police? It depends on what you want.
Basic options for reporting:
First, think about what you want from a system, and find out about whether you are likely to be able to get it. Ask questions to:
- people you know who have been involved in a similar situation
- a confidential advocate at the Office of Victim Assistance (303-492-8855)
- people in the system you are considering using (see below, usually not a confidential option unless you talk hypothetically).
Reasons you might want to report could include:
- wanting a community to validate your experience,
- wanting the person to know what they did to you was wrong,
- wanting to give the person an opportunity to change,
- wanting to try to stop the behavior from happening again,
- whatever the outcome, wanting to make a larger community aware that these things happen,
- you believe it will help you heal,
- you believe it will contribute to change in the long run.
Systems vary in their ability to produce desired outcomes.
Reasons you might not be able to get what you want could include:
- reporting itself is too risky (i.e. you are aware you may lose relationships, your physical safety, your job, or your ability to continue to live in the US),
- that the law, policy, or system you might use doesn’t cover the experience you had,
- the people and techniques used to investigate, sanction or resolve the situation are not effective for your situation,
- the experience of being involved with the process complicates your ability to heal,
- what you want is not a possible outcome in the system you are attempting to use.
Not every system is appropriate for every kind of situation, but here’s an overview.
In the University
If the person who harmed you is or was a student at the time of the incident they could be sanctioned under the Student Code of Conduct which is administered by the Office of Student Conduct. These cases are investigated by an investigator in the Office of Student Conduct, and decided by a hearing officer. You can have an advocate with you from the Office of Victim Assistance or another accompanying support person. While you are not required to have a lawyer, some participants do choose to have a lawyer involved, especially if there is another (criminal or civil) process involved. (http://www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/studentconduct/ (303- 492-5550)
If the person who harmed you was a staff or faculty member at the time of the incident, the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (http://www.colorado.edu/odh/index.html 303-492-2127) or the Office of Labor Relations (http://www.colorado.edu/humres/support/ 303-492-0956) can inform you of the variety of system wide policies (http://www.colorado.edu/policies/) and job related standards that may apply to your situation. If, after an investigation, the Office of Discrimination and Harassment or Office of Labor Relations find that a violation of policy has occurred, they will pass on the finding to the supervisor, who will decide on a sanction. Informal processes may be recommended if the behavior does not reach the level of a policy violation.
If you are seeking a confidential, informal resolution, staff or students can use the Ombuds Office (303-492-5077). The Ombuds Office can facilitate a process such as mediation or restorative justice and inform you of resources.
If you are seeking a confidential place to tell your story, you can start with Confidential Reporting.
Outside the University
Criminal: What happened to you might be a crime. These cases are investigated by the police, and if there is enough evidence that a crime has been committed, the District Attorney’s office takes the case on your behalf. You can have an advocate, and there are certain standards (Victims Rights) about how you are to be informed and included in this process. Consult the police in your jurisdiction or the Office of Victim Assistance for more information. Boulder County DA: (http://www.bouldercounty.org/da/ (303-441-3700) and CU police department http://police.colorado.edu (303-492-6666).
Civil Law: Much of the policy that governs behavior inside the university derives from various Federal and State laws and so you may decide to seek recourse against an individual or organization under those laws. In the case of Federal law, the Department of Education (http://www.ed.gov/index.jhtml) the Office for Civil Rights (http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (http://www.eeoc.gov/) are among the Federal agencies responsible for enforcing these laws.
In bringing a civil case, you need your own lawyer with expertise in that area of law.
There are other entities active on and around campus that have their own standards of behavior and sanctioning processes, like ROTC, and fraternities or sororities. The Office of Victim Assistance and other advocacy centers on campus can assist you in assessing and interacting with these resources as well.
In addition, reporting anonymously to the University via the CU Confidential Reporting site is available at www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/confidentialreporting/.
Reporting and engaging with systems are only a few strategies for change. Connecting with other people who share your experience can be a step towards exploring all the ways of making meaning and use of your experience.