Student view on mandatory reporting


Rebekah Madia, Senior, Social Work BS

Resident Assistants (RAs) tend to have a bad reputation for many reasons.

Yes, there is nothing worse than getting written up and thinking that your chances of being successful in life are completely over.

There is something many who were not RAs do not realize, one aspect of the RA job that is widely misunderstood. If you have ever lived in the residence halls here at UW-Whitewater, you have (hopefully) attended a floor meeting where an RA has said something along the lines of, “I’m a mandated a reporter.”

This is important for students to understand. And in my experience, many do not. Mandated reporting is something that is not special to RAs, let alone this campus. Most students I have interacted with assume that mandated reporting is reserved for faculty, but that is not the case. Mandated reporting is something that every student needs to understand.

According to the Association of Title IX Administrators, all employees are mandated reporters. Not only RAs, this includes student employees in every department. Mandated reporting means that nothing is confidential, whether an RA was told about sexual misconduct, person to person harm, self harm, or anything of the sort, he or she must report it.

This also means, according to the UW-Whitewater Student Employment Handbook, “they must report incidence of suspected or observed child abuse (physical, sexual, emotional/verbal) or neglect in the course of doing their job.” In addition, the handbook highlights the fact that employees should be aware that they are mandated reporters and should know how to respond accordingly.

If you are a student employee with a concern that this applies to you, it does. I urge you to ask your supervisor how you are supposed to respond, if you do not know already.

As pointed out by many other universities, mandated reporting can sometimes be controversial, but that is because often times it is misunderstood. For example, if a resident told the RA that they were beaten up walking down Tratt Street, the RA would have to report it.

For some, this is controversial. But let me say this: just because something is reported does not mean that it becomes public knowledge. Housing and the UW-Whitewater Police Department do not live tweet about reports that come in or speak about it loudly while sitting in the UC. Incidents are reported so that services can be more easily be provided to the survivor.

What concerns me, knowing that many student are not aware of this, is that this something not special to UW-Whitewater. Many professionals are required to be mandated reporters such as caregivers, counselors, anyone in the medical field, teachers, coaches, education administration, social workers and more. Many UW-Whitewater students will soon become mandated reporters in the next few years if they are not already.

The purpose of mandated reporting is clear: faculty and staff at UW-Whitewater care about students. All mandated reporting does is inform them of people who need help or services and lets the survivor know they are available to them.

If you need help and are too afraid to talk to a professor or a professional staff member, talk to an RA or any other student employee. We are here to help you.