Luther College Chips

Online incident report forms introduced

Gillian Klein, Staff Writer

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As part of a recent effort to increase the number of reports filed, Luther implemented new bias and sexual violence report forms on Oct. 30. This form is available online.

According to Associate Director of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator Matthew T. Bills, the creation of online report forms give reporters a different avenue to file reports.

“These forms are implemented through Google forms,” Bills said. “The choice of anonymity appeals to students who have experienced sexual incidents or bias and do not want their identities to be revealed in fear of there being retaliation against them.”

Online forms for bias incident reports are seeking to increase the number of incidents reported. According to the 2016 Luther Security Report, no hate crimes were reported in 2014, two were reported in 2015, and none were reported again in 2016. The bias incident form includes a statement emphasizing its importance.

“At Luther, acts of bias go against our mission and our community values,” the statement said. “We seek to provide you a timely response and support. Bias refers to language and/or behaviors against persons because of, but not limited to, others’ actual or perceived: age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, marital status, national origin, parental status, physical appearance, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and/ or veteran status.”

Reports of bias incidents will go to the bias response team consisting of Vice President and Dean for Student Life Corey Landstrom, Interim Dean for Institutional Equity and Inclusion Lisa Scott, Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Development Jeff Wilkerson, Director of Campus Safety and Security Bob Harri, Assistant Dean for Student Life and Director of Residence Life Kris Franzen, Director of Human Resources Marsha Wenthold, and Bills.

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the 2015 National Clery Act report stated that 89% of U.S. college campuses disclosed zero reported incidences of rape, but this contradicts the national statistics on the number of rapes that occur on college campuses. This data suggests that some students on college campuses feel uncomfortable reporting sexual and bias incidents.

The Clery Act requires that colleges and universities receiving federal funding publicly disclose campus crime statistics. Luther’s reported incidents of reported rape have seen a rise from one in 2014, to three in 2015, and to seven in 2016, as well as a rise in fondling and dating violence incidents from 2014 to 2016. The crime reports are shared with students annually.

Reports of sexual assault incidents go to the sexual assault response team which includes Associate Director of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator Matt Bills, Director of Campus Security and Safety Bob Harri, and Assistant Dean for Student Life and Director of Case Management Janet Hunter.

Autumn Maas (‘20) highlighted the importance of the increasing reports each year.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there are more reports each year,” Maas said. “It takes courage to report and [courage is] something that is building in our school culture as well as society. It’s a sign that we are more willing to open up about these incidents.”

Anonymous reporting limits the extent of resulting investigations that Luther can conduct. According to Matthew Bills, an investigation cannot be initiated against an accused individual if the report came from an anonymous source. Conducting an investigation requires additional information from the initial reporting of the case, and anonymous reporting does not allow for this. Student Life Director of Case Management and Assistant Dean Janet Hunter highlighted the importance of the having people file reports.

“Though there are limits to reporting anonymously if students choose to, it’s the report forms being available to students that matters,” Hunter said. “If this is an avenue that allows students to report more of these incidents, then [the forms] are serving their purpose.”

According to Hunter, while there are limitations to the reports, giving students an opportunity to report and talk about the incidents is the ultimate cause of these forms being created. The additional method of reporting puts the power of choice into the survivor’s hands according to junior and residential assistant, Alex Shaw (‘19).

“With this form, the choice students have is 1. Report on their own time, 2. Choose if it is anonymous or not and 3. To share their story to give a better idea what our community is experiencing,” Shaw said. “Those struggling with sexual incidents deserve a voice, and the voice behind the incident deserves to control the overline timeline in these situations.”

The forms are now open to students as of last week and the Student Life Office expects the forms to be well utilized by the student body.

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