The discrimination, harassment, retaliation or bias incident reporting form is used by mandatory reporters to notify relevant authorities about incidents on campus. (Courtesy of the Lehigh University website.)

The role of mandatory reporters, explained


At Lehigh, mandatory reporters are faculty, staff and students who — in their capacity as official representatives of the university — are required to report incidents that violate university policy.

This policy encompasses drug and alcohol abuse, harassment, discrimination, bias incidents, gender violence and other offenses. These offenses are reported to various offices around campus such as the Advocacy Center or LUPD, depending on the severity of the offense.

KAREN A SALVEMINI“The LUPD and advocates center are 24/7, 365 resources that are always options, all the time, any time of the year,” said Karen Salvemini, Lehigh’s Title IX coordinator and equal opportunity compliance coordinator.

Mandatory reporters do not receive a specific certification, but they are required to tell students they must report anything that violates university policy. There are two confidential resources on campus where students can go to speak freely — the Counseling Center and the Chaplain’s Office.

All Lehigh faculty and staff members, including graduate assistants, teacher assistants and research assistants, are mandatory reporters. Faculty and staff are made aware of this responsibility throughout the school year and receive training sessions every semester.

“We are here to get people connected with support resources and to show them their options,” Salvemini said.

For example, the university does not want students to fall behind in class because of difficult experiences taking place outside of the classroom, so they will provide those students with resources and put measures in place to help them be successful in and out of the classroom.

Mandatory reporters have various options of reporting, which can change depending on the situation. The most commonly used option is an online form that is sent out to various groups at once. Salvemini said this form may be the most popular option because it meets all required obligations at one time.

Besides faculty and staff, students who are in positions in which they represent the university are also mandatory reporters. Such roles include Gryphons, orientation leaders and Break the Silence members. All student members receive training on how to recognize a university offense and how to report the incident.

Students are responsible for reporting the same offenses as other mandatory reporters but often have more experience with drug and alcohol offenses than faculty members.

“Reporting is difficult because we’re students too, and we’re in the same environment,” said Divya Sirdeshpande, ’18, the head Gryphon of Dravo.

Gryphons are not trying to get students in trouble, she said, but are coming from a place of concern and want to ensure that students have the right resources available to them.

Sirdeshpande said the three biggest offenses are gender violence, hazing and bias-related incidents. Gryphons frequently deal with drug and alcohol offenses, which are typically more common on weekends .

Gryphons are always mandatory reporters, regardless of whether they are on duty. Members of Break the Silence are only mandatory reporters when they are serving in their role as a member.

Dana Gallant, ’15, the Break the Silence adviser, said members are not required to be mandatory reporters when they are just being typical students, but they are highly encouraged to do so.

Break the Silence members receive 40 hours of training, which includes mandatory reporter information. A large part of their training includes identifying gender violence and understanding when to report it.

“Break the Silence is a survivor-focused resource, and we try to do our best to support the survivor,” Gallant said.

She said the “red zone” for students is the period between the beginning of the semester and Thanksgiving break. The red zone is where gender violence among students is at its highest.

Gallant said she could not say if there is a correlation between the red zone and reports on gender violence.

There are currently no statistics regarding mandatory reporting, but the Title IX office is in the process of creating a report that will detail these statistics.

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