Many students may not know that Drake has an anonymous reporting tool, and that it’s now easier to use than ever.
EthicsPoint is a third party web portal that Drake pays to use to provide students and faculty with another way to make reports in a variety of categories provided on EthicsPoint, such as Violence or Threat, Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct/Discrimination and Discrimination, Harassment or Bias. Reports have the option to include the name of the person making the report, or to stay anonymous, even through the EthicsPoint phone number, which is (877) 295-7940.
“It’s another tool and another option for anyone on campus, especially for students if they’re not comfortable coming in,” said Katie Overberg, Drake’s Title IX Coordinator. “It’s a way that they can start a process and feel comfortable that they’ve taken some steps and can go at their own pace.”
Once a report is made, a staff member assigned to the category the report was made in will reach out to the individual, either with questions or to provide further resources, regardless if the report is anonymous or not. Communication is primarily done through EthicsPoint.
People who make the report do not have to respond if they don’t want to.
“If you say you want to go anonymously, it generates a report and a contact to an assigned Drake employee,” Overberg said. “For example, I get the sexual and interpersonal misconduct reports. Scott Law would get the one about violence and threats.”
According to Venessa Macro, the Chief Administration Officer, EthicsPoint has been around for quite some time – since around 2008 or 2009. But it wasn’t until recently that changes were made to the reporting tool to make it easier for students and faculty to find, with the help of two students, first-year Brittany Freeman and sophomore Senator-at-Large Samantha Bayne.
“Making it clear on how it works and that we wanted to make people really understand that if you report from your email address, you can communicate with a member of administration, but they don’t know who you are,” Macro said. “And that wasn’t really clear that that was a two-way communication, and we really wanted to emphasize that because that is a really nice feature to this tool. It allows us to follow up with questions and say, tell more about this, or the date that it happened.”
After coming up with the idea of an anonymous blog where campus issues could be discussed and Overberg could be involved, Overberg told Freeman about EthicsPoint being “that resource that no one really knows about,” according to Freeman.
“I did some research beforehand, I was like okay, well let me look it up and see what it’s all about and I a. couldn’t really find it, and b. had no idea what I was looking at and I was like. this is not conducive to someone who had just gone through trauma and is trying to report what had happened,” Freeman said. “So we kind of went from there and talking about what we needed to adjust with EthicsPoint.”
The two students, along with Overberg and Mary Alice Hill, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Human Resources, worked with Drake IT Services to make the website more accessible and more user-friendly. A link to EthicsPoint can now be found on Blueview under the Student Services tab and on Drake’s website at http://www.drake.edu/ethicspoint/.
“When you were clicking on things, it was really confusing as to how to actually do it. And the problem is that if you’re doing it anonymously, there’s not much you can really do aside from telling the campus that it happened,” Freeman said. “There’s not really many punitive actions that come after it, so one of the things we wanted to work on is wanting to informing people that that’s what will happen. Say that they filed a complaint and they went with the anonymous aspect of it, that they would not have many actions after just saying it, unless they chose to release their name.”
Having more people reporting things, even anonymously, is worth it, according to Freeman.
“It’s never too late to report something. That’s really what we’re combating now is trying to brand EthicsPoint as something that people know when they’re talking about the issue at hand. That’s what we’re kind of moving forward to for second semester,” Freeman said.
Freeman and Bayne started meeting with Overberg and Hill in the beginning of last fall semester. The link to EthicsPoint came up on Blueview around early December, and the landing site on Drake for EthicsPoint came shortly after.
“There were some major flaws in the system, especially when we’ve been using it as a resource for when incidents happen on campus,” Bayne said. “For example, there was not a category for discrimination or harassment that was not sexual in nature on the website itself.”
Bayne said the old website made it “uncomfortable and stressful” without the Discrimination, Harassment or Bias category.
“It is our anonymous reporting system that is used for a wide variety of incidents whether it’s sexual harassment or discrimination, or to be used by faculty or staff members if someone was stealing from the budget or something like that. Because of that, it really needed to be explained,” Bayne said.
Bayne plans on meeting with Overberg soon to discuss how to promote EthicsPoint on campus.
“I want students to know that there are a variety of ways to make their concerns known, and we will hear them in whatever way they’re most comfortable telling us. But the whole point is that we want them to tell us,” Overberg said.